“Listen, my children, and you shall hear…”

Interesting essay on Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride.” “Before Longfellow published those lines, Revere was never known for his ride, and Longfellow got almost every detail of what happened in 1775 wrong,” writes Harvard professor Jill Lepore. “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.

A passionate abolitionist, Longfellow “secretly spent money he earned from his best-selling poems, like “The Song of Hiawatha,” to buy slaves their freedom.” “Paul Revere’s Ride” was published December 19, 1860, the same day South Carolina seceded from the Union.

Of the Library of America’s 2000 edition of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Though he may never regain his onetime prestige, Longfellow at his best was more fun, smarter, deeper, and a better craftsman than readers nowadays imagine; this hefty volume may finally let them know.

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Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

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