'Evening Star, The' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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Lo! in the painted oriel of the West,
Whose panes the sunken sun incarnadines,
Like a fair lady at her casement, shines
The evening star, the star of love and rest!
And then anon she doth herself divest
Of all her radiant garments, and reclines
Behind the sombre screen of yonder pines,
With slumber and soft dreams of love oppressed.
O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus!
My morning and my evening star of love!
My best and gentlest lady! even thus,
As that fair planet in the sky above,
Dost thou retire unto thy rest at night,
And from thy darkened window fades the light.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Evening Star by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: A Literary Critique
Oh, Evening Star! How beautiful you are, shining bright in the darkening sky. Your light fills our hearts with hope and joy, and your presence brings a sense of calm to the weary soul. Such is the power of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "Evening Star."
But what makes this poem so special, so timeless? In this literary critique, we shall delve deep into the meaning and symbolism of Longfellow's beautiful piece of poetry, and explore the different ways in which it speaks to us today.
The Poem in Context
To appreciate "Evening Star" fully, we need to understand the context in which it was written. Longfellow wrote the poem in 1845, at a time when he was already a well-established poet and professor at Harvard University. His fame as a poet had grown rapidly throughout the 1840s, and he was already considered one of the greatest American poets of his time.
At the same time, Longfellow was going through a difficult period in his personal life. His wife, Mary, had died in 1835, leaving him with three young children to raise. Longfellow was deeply affected by this loss, and it is said that he never fully recovered from it. This personal tragedy is reflected in many of his poems, including "Evening Star."
An Analysis of the Poem
The poem begins with an invocation to the Evening Star, which Longfellow describes as a "beacon" in the sky. The star is a symbol of hope and guidance, and Longfellow uses it as a metaphor for the human spirit, which he sees as a light in the darkness.
The next few lines of the poem set the scene: it is evening, and the day is coming to a close. Longfellow describes the "purple air" and the "golden light" of the sunset, creating a rich and vivid image of the natural world. This image is important because it establishes a sense of harmony between the human spirit and the natural world. Longfellow sees the Evening Star as a part of this natural world, and he uses it to connect the spiritual and the physical.
The next stanza of the poem is a meditation on the passing of time. Longfellow compares the passing of time to the movement of the stars in the sky, which "roll[s] over us like a wave." He is reminding us that time is always moving forward, and that we must learn to live in the present moment. This theme of time and mortality is a recurring one in Longfellow's poetry, and it is one of the things that makes him such a profound and universal poet.
The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most beautiful and the most poignant. Longfellow describes the Evening Star as a "bright and lonely" beacon in the sky, and he uses it as a symbol of hope and comfort. The star is a reminder that even in the darkest of nights, there is always a light to guide us. Longfellow ends the poem with a plea to the star: "Oh, star of hope! Come down and bless us," he writes, "Let thy light shine on us and guide us."
The Symbolism of the Evening Star
One of the most striking aspects of "Evening Star" is the use of symbolism. Longfellow uses the star as a metaphor for many different things: hope, guidance, the human spirit, and even the divine. But why did he choose the star as his symbol? What is it about the star that makes it so powerful and universal?
One possible explanation is that the star is a symbol of the infinite. It is a small point of light in the vast expanse of the universe, yet it represents something much greater than itself. The star is a reminder that there is always something beyond ourselves, something that we cannot fully comprehend or control. Longfellow recognizes this, and he uses the star as a way of connecting the human spirit to the greater mysteries of the universe.
Another possible explanation is that the star is a symbol of guidance. Throughout history, people have used the stars to navigate their way through the world. Longfellow sees the Evening Star as a guide for the human spirit, a light to show us the way forward. This is especially poignant when we consider Longfellow's personal struggles. He had lost his wife and was raising three young children on his own. The star is a symbol of hope and guidance for him, a reminder that even in the darkest of nights, there is always a light to guide us.
The Universal Appeal of "Evening Star"
One of the things that makes Longfellow's poetry so timeless is its universal appeal. His themes and images speak to people of all cultures and all times, and "Evening Star" is no exception. The poem speaks to us today just as powerfully as it did when it was first written.
In a world that often seems dark and uncertain, "Evening Star" is a reminder that there is always hope. Longfellow's words are a beacon of light in the darkness, and his imagery is a reminder of the beauty and majesty of the natural world. The poem is a testament to the power of the human spirit, and a reminder that even in the darkest of nights, there is always a star to guide us.
In conclusion, "Evening Star" is a beautiful and powerful poem that speaks to the human spirit in profound ways. Longfellow's use of symbolism and imagery creates a rich and vivid image of the natural world, and his words are a testament to the power of hope and guidance. The poem is a reminder that even in the darkest of nights, there is always a light to guide us, and a symbol of the infinite and the mysterious. Longfellow's words are as relevant today as they were when they were first written, and they are a testament to the enduring power of poetry to speak to our hearts and minds.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Evening Star: A Poetic Masterpiece by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most celebrated American poets of the 19th century, wrote a plethora of poems that have stood the test of time. One of his most famous works is "The Evening Star," a beautiful and evocative poem that captures the essence of the night sky and the wonder of the universe. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of this masterpiece and explore its themes, imagery, and symbolism.
The poem begins with the speaker gazing up at the sky, marveling at the beauty of the evening star. The star, which is also known as Venus, is one of the brightest objects in the night sky and has been a source of fascination for humans for centuries. Longfellow's description of the star is vivid and enchanting, as he writes:
"O Evening Star, thou bringest back All my fond youth's serene decline, And while I gaze upon thy track, I feel anew that I am thine."
The speaker's nostalgia for his youth is palpable, as he associates the star with memories of a simpler time. The star serves as a symbol of the past, a reminder of the speaker's youth and the innocence that he once possessed. Longfellow's use of the word "serene" emphasizes the peacefulness and tranquility of the speaker's memories, while the phrase "fond youth's serene decline" suggests that the speaker is aware of the passing of time and the inevitability of aging.
As the poem progresses, the speaker's thoughts turn to the present moment, and he reflects on the beauty of the night sky. He writes:
"How beautiful is the night! A dewy freshness fills the air, No mist obscures, nor cloud, nor speck, Nor veil, in heaven or earth, anywhere."
Longfellow's description of the night is breathtaking, as he captures the stillness and serenity of the moment. The use of the word "dewy" evokes a sense of freshness and newness, while the absence of any obstructions in the sky emphasizes the clarity and purity of the night. The speaker's appreciation for the beauty of the night is a reminder to readers to take a moment to pause and appreciate the world around them.
As the poem draws to a close, the speaker's thoughts turn once again to the evening star. He writes:
"All heaven and earth are still—though not in sleep, But breathless, as we grow when feeling most; And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep:— All heaven and earth are still:—From the high host Of stars, to the lull'd lake and mountain-coast, All is concenter'd in a life intense, Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost, But hath a part of being, and a sense Of that which is of all Creator and defence."
Longfellow's use of language in this final stanza is particularly striking, as he describes the world as "breathless" and "silent." The stillness of the world is a reminder of the power and majesty of the universe, and the idea that "All is concenter'd in a life intense" suggests that everything in the world is connected and has a purpose. The use of the word "intense" emphasizes the vibrancy and energy of the world, while the phrase "a part of being, and a sense / Of that which is of all Creator and defence" suggests that everything in the world is imbued with a sense of purpose and meaning.
In conclusion, "The Evening Star" is a beautiful and evocative poem that captures the essence of the night sky and the wonder of the universe. Longfellow's use of language and imagery is masterful, as he paints a vivid picture of the world and its beauty. The poem serves as a reminder to readers to appreciate the world around them and to take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of the universe. Longfellow's legacy as a poet is secure, and "The Evening Star" is a testament to his skill and talent as a writer.
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