All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Longfellow at 13

Next Tuesday is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Maine's greatest poet. Here is a passage from the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow website, created by the Maine Historical Society:
At 13 Longfellow published his first poem in the "Portland Gazette," signing it simply "HENRY." The poem, "The Battle of Lovell's Pond," was a heroic tale of battle between colonists and Indians; it appeared on the front page of the "Gazette." There was no praise forthcoming, for no one in the family (except his sister Anne with whom he had shared his secret) realized that their Henry had written the poem. Later that evening while at a friend's house, he overheard the father say to another friend how terrible the poem was. Young Henry was devastated but it did not put a stop to his literary aspirations. [Link]
And here is that first published poem, which told of the death of Captain Lovewell and several of his men at Pigwacket, or Pequawket (now Fryeburg):
(May 8, 1725)
Cold, cold is the north wind and rude is the blast
That sweeps like a hurricane loudly and fast,
As it moans through the tall waving pines lone and drear,
Sighs a requiem sad o'er the warrior's bier.

The war-whoop is still, and the savage's yell
Has sunk into silence along the wild dell;
The din of the battle, the tumult, is o'er,
And the war-clarion's voice is now heard no more.

The warriors that fought for their country, and bled,
Have sunk to their rest; the damp earth is their bed;
No stone tells the place where their ashes repose,
Nor points out the spot from the graves of their foes.

They died in their glory, surrounded by fame,
And Victory's loud trump their death did proclaim;
They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast,
And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest.


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