Saturday, December 18, 2010
Great article in the New York Times on Longfellow
Jill Lepore writes, “Listen, my children, and you shall hear/ Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.” Before Longfellow published those lines, Revere was never known for his ride, and Longfellow got almost every detail of what happened in 1775 wrong. But Longfellow didn’t care: he was writing as much about the coming war as about the one that had come before. “Paul Revere’s Ride” is less a poem about the Revolutionary War than about the impending Civil War — and about the conflict over slavery that caused it. That meaning, though, has been almost entirely forgotten."
Click here to read the article:
One of the things I found interesting in the article was the fact that Longfellow used his money to help slaves. Here is an account from the Harvard Library website,
"Public Poet, Private Man, Longfellow at 200,"
"These two pages cover the years 1855 (when Song of Hiawatha appeared) to 1856. The ex-slave Josiah Henson, widely known as the model for Harriett Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom, is mentioned as the recipient of donations in Longfellow's account books until the mid-1870s. Longfellow met Henson in the summer of 1846, when the preacher called at Craigie House to get the poet to sponsor his school, which Longfellow apparently did, and over a longer period of time (in March 1875, for example, "Father Henson" received $20.00 out of a total of $122.00 in donations for that month)."
Click here to see a facsimile of Longfellow's ledger: