By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807-1882
The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;—
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;— a Fairy Tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.
Stephen Longfellow was a member of that enlarged Board of Directors of the American Peace Society elected in 1833. He remained active on this Board until shortly before his death, in 1946. Among the eight children born to Stephen and his wife Zilpah (Wadsworth) Longfellow was the great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
“For the space of a whole generation he has been the most popular and beloved of American poets. No poet who has ever written in the English language has addressed a wider audience among his contem poraries in other countries as well as in his own, and none has ever attached his readers to himself with firmer ties of personal regard. The distinguishing characteristic of his poetry was its simple, sincere, and exquisite expression of sentiment and emotion common to the hearts of men, and of the sympathy of the poet, at once strong and deli cate, with the deepest and the most familiar experiences of human life. His poetry evoked the sympathy of his readers, and it strengthened their best feelings by giving natural, appropriate, and beautiful utter ance to them. The service is incalculable which Mr. Longfellow has thus rendered in refining, purifying, and elevating the moral disposition of his numberless readers. His broad and liberal culture, his native sense of poetic melody, his fine and critical taste, his admirable skill and culture as an artist in verse, all contributed to the worth and to the success of his work. But its chief source of power lay in the character of the man. His poems in their excellence were the true image of the poet. It was the man speaking in them that gave to them their force of good. Sincerity was in the very tone of their music.
The range of the subjects of his poetry was astonishingly wide. The legends of the Old World and of the New, of the North and of the South, deeds of patriotism and of devotion, stories of the past and of the present, themes of household and domestic concern, of birth and death, If joy and sorrow, were equally familiar to his lyre of many strings.
In his volumes there was something for every age and every taste.But in this variety, diverse as it was in motive and in interest, there was an essential and controlling unity of spirit. It was all inspired with the sweet and generous nature of the poet, his faith in man, his trust in God, his high purpose and principle, his allegiance to duty. Modest, simple, kind, tender-hearted, beloved by all who knew him, famous throughout the world, he has left a memory in which there is nothing to regret, and which will forever be cherished by his country.”
Source: Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 17 (Jun., 1881 – Jun., 1882), pp. 406-408
Published by: American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2513866 Accessed March 2nd. 2017