"Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere...Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch...One if by land, two if by sea..."
These lines are from the poem, Paul Revere's Ride, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was born FEBRUARY 27, 1807.
His grandfather had been a Revolutionary War general and his uncle, after whom he was named, was Navy hero Henry Wadsworth, who was killed fighting Muslim Barbary Pirates at the Battle of Tripoli, 1804.
An American poet and Harvard Professor, Longfellow wrote such classics as: The Song of Hiawatha; The Courtship of Miles Standish, which sold 10,000 copies in London in a single day; and Evangeline, in which he penned:
"Man is unjust, but God is just; and finally justice triumphs."
Longfellow's house at 105 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, had been used by General George Washington as his Headquarters during the British's Siege of Boston, July 1775-April 1776.
Longfellow's poems imparted cultural and moral values, focusing on life being more than material pursuits.
In 1842, Longfellow expressed his public support for abolishing slavery by publishing a collection, Poems on Slavery, which was reprinted by The New England Anti-Slavery Association.
The most popular poet of his day, Longfellow was praised by contemporaries John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., James Russell Lowell and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In 1884, he became the first non-British writer to be represented by a sculpted bust in London's Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.
In A Psalm of Life, 1838, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote:
"Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul...
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,-act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us,
Footprints on the sands of time;
-Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again."
American Minute with Bill Federer FEBRUARY 27. Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Bless Your Heart (series II) (Eden Prairie, MN: Heartland Sampler, Inc., 1990), 6.12. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Landlord's Tale of Paul Revere's Ride" 1860, which he began writing after visitng Boston, noting in his diary April 19th "I wrote a few lines in Paul Revere's Ride; this being the day of that achievement.'" (Editor, p. 25.) http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1331.html Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "A Psalm of Life, What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist" (Composed July 20, 1838, published October 1838, Knickerbocker Magazine; Voices of the Night, 1839.) -"Mr. Longfellow said of this poem: `I kept it some time in manuscript, unwilling to show it to any one, it being a voice from my inmost heart, at a time when I was rallying from depression.' Before it was published it was read by the poet to his college class at the close of a lecture on Goethe. Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto. Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries. http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1339.html
The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, with Bibliographical and Critical Notes, Riverside Edition (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1890), I, 20-22. PS 2250 E90 Robarts Library.