'Republic , The' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on the fate!
We know what Master laid the keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, - are all with thee!

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Republic by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: A Grand Journey through the Human Psyche

As a literary masterpiece, The Republic by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a profound and complex poem that delves into the depths of human psychology, politics, and morality. Published in 1850, this epic work explores the tensions between individuality and community, reason and passion, and power and justice. By examining the Platonic dialogue, Longfellow offers a poetic interpretation of Plato's philosophy and gives us a glimpse of his own vision of the ideal society.

At the core of the poem lies the character of Socrates, the great philosopher who represents the voice of reason and wisdom. Through his conversations with Glaucon, Adeimantus, Thrasymachus, and other interlocutors, Socrates investigates the nature of justice, the role of the individual in the state, and the virtues that make a just society possible. While Plato's original text is primarily concerned with the problem of knowledge, Longfellow expands the scope of the dialogue to encompass a wider range of philosophical and ethical issues.

One of the most striking features of The Republic is its use of epic conventions and poetic devices to create a sense of grandeur and drama. Longfellow employs a variety of meters, including blank verse, rhymed couplets, and terza rima, to give the poem a musical and rhythmic quality. He also makes frequent use of alliteration, enjambment, and metaphor to heighten the emotional impact of the text. For example, in the opening lines of Book I, Longfellow writes:

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

Here, Longfellow creates a vivid image of the forest as a timeless and mystical place, inhabited by ancient spirits and imbued with a sense of mystery and foreboding. By using anapestic meter and repeating the "s" and "m" sounds, he evokes the rustling of the leaves and the whispering of the wind, adding to the sense of enchantment and wonder.

Another notable aspect of The Republic is its exploration of the human psyche and the dynamics of power and domination. Longfellow portrays the characters as complex and multi-dimensional beings, each struggling with their own desires, fears, and ambitions. Thrasymachus, for instance, represents the voice of cynicism and skepticism, challenging Socrates' notion of justice and arguing that it is simply a tool for the ruling class to maintain their power. Glaucon, on the other hand, embodies the spirit of idealism and hope, seeking to create a society where individuals can fulfill their potential and live harmoniously with each other.

Through these characters, Longfellow reveals the darker side of human nature and the dangers of unchecked ambition and greed. He shows how the desire for power can corrupt even the noblest of intentions, leading to a society where might makes right and justice is merely a facade. At the same time, he highlights the importance of reason, compassion, and self-knowledge in creating a just and harmonious community. As Socrates says in Book VI:

The true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is.

Here, Socrates argues that true knowledge and enlightenment come from a gradual ascent towards the highest form of beauty, which he identifies with the divine. This idea of the "ascending scale of being" is central to Platonic philosophy and reflects Longfellow's own belief in the power of reason and imagination to transcend the limitations of the physical world.

In conclusion, The Republic by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a remarkable work of literature that combines the grandeur of epic poetry with the depth and complexity of philosophical inquiry. Through its exploration of the human psyche and the dynamics of power and justice, it offers a profound and insightful vision of the ideal society. Longfellow's use of poetic devices and epic conventions adds to the beauty and power of the text, making it a timeless and enduring masterpiece. As we read this poem, we are invited to embark on a grand journey through the human psyche, to explore the mysteries of the universe and our own inner selves, and to discover the true meaning of justice, wisdom, and love.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Poetry Republic is a classic poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most celebrated American poets of the 19th century. This poem is a beautiful tribute to the power of poetry and its ability to inspire and uplift the human spirit. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of this timeless masterpiece.

The poem begins with the speaker describing a magical land called the Poetry Republic. This land is a place where poetry reigns supreme and where the people are devoted to the art of verse. The speaker describes the landscape as being filled with beautiful gardens, sparkling fountains, and majestic palaces. This imagery creates a sense of wonder and enchantment, drawing the reader into the world of the poem.

As the poem progresses, the speaker introduces us to the people of the Poetry Republic. These are individuals who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of poetry. They are described as being wise, kind, and gentle, with a deep understanding of the power of words. The speaker tells us that these people are not concerned with material possessions or wealth, but rather with the beauty and truth that can be found in poetry.

The theme of the poem is the transformative power of poetry. The speaker tells us that in the Poetry Republic, poetry is not just a form of entertainment or a way to pass the time. It is a way of life, a way of seeing the world, and a way of connecting with others. The people of the Poetry Republic use poetry to express their deepest emotions, to explore the mysteries of the universe, and to connect with the divine.

The structure of the poem is simple but effective. It is written in free verse, with no set rhyme or meter. This gives the poem a natural, flowing feel, which is appropriate for a poem about the beauty of poetry. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each of which describes a different aspect of the Poetry Republic. This structure allows the reader to explore the world of the poem in a systematic way, building up a picture of this magical land piece by piece.

The language of the poem is rich and evocative. Longfellow uses a range of poetic devices to create a sense of wonder and enchantment. For example, he uses imagery to describe the landscape of the Poetry Republic, using words like "sparkling fountains" and "majestic palaces" to create a sense of grandeur and beauty. He also uses metaphor to describe the power of poetry, comparing it to a "magic spell" that can transform the world.

Longfellow also uses repetition to great effect in this poem. The phrase "in the Poetry Republic" is repeated throughout the poem, creating a sense of unity and coherence. This repetition also emphasizes the importance of poetry in this world, reinforcing the central theme of the poem.

In conclusion, The Poetry Republic is a beautiful tribute to the power of poetry. Longfellow's use of language, structure, and imagery creates a sense of wonder and enchantment, drawing the reader into the world of the poem. The theme of the transformative power of poetry is explored in a thoughtful and nuanced way, showing us how poetry can connect us with the divine and with each other. This poem is a timeless masterpiece, and a testament to the enduring power of poetry to inspire and uplift the human spirit.

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