'Endymion' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The rising moon has hid the stars;
Her level rays, like golden bars,
Lie on the landscape green,
With shadows brown between.

And silver white the river gleams,
As if Diana, in her dreams,
Had dropt her silver bow
Upon the meadows low.

On such a tranquil night as this,
She woke Endymion with a kiss,
When, sleeping in the grove,
He dreamed not of her love.

Like Dian's kiss, unasked, unsought,
Love gives itself, but is not bought;
Nor voice, nor sound betrays
Its deep, impassioned gaze.

It comes,--the beautiful, the free,
The crown of all humanity,--
In silence and alone
To seek the elected one.

It lifts the boughs, whose shadows deep
Are Life's oblivion, the soul's sleep,
And kisses the closed eyes
Of him, who slumbering lies.

O weary hearts! O slumbering eyes!
O drooping souls, whose destinies
Are fraught with fear and pain,
Ye shall be loved again!

No one is so accursed by fate,
No one so utterly desolate,
But some heart, though unknown,
Responds unto his own.

Responds,--as if with unseen wings,
An angel touched its quivering strings;
And whispers, in its song,
"'Where hast thou stayed so long?"

Editor 1 Interpretation

Endymion - A Masterpiece of Romantic Poetry

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Endymion is a poetic masterpiece that embodies the essence of romanticism. The poem delves deep into the theme of love and explores the beauty and mystery of nature in a way that is both enchanting and captivating. It is a work that speaks to the heart and soul of every reader, drawing them into a world of imagination and wonder.

The Plot

Endymion tells the story of a young shepherd named Endymion who falls in love with the moon goddess, Cynthia. The poem is divided into four books, with each book exploring different aspects of the story. The first book sets the scene, introducing Endymion and his love for Cynthia. The second book takes us on a journey through the natural world, with the narrator describing the beauty of the mountains, forests, and rivers. The third book sees Endymion travelling to the underworld to seek the help of the goddess, Tellus, in his quest for Cynthia. Finally, in the fourth book, Endymion and Cynthia are reunited, and their love is consummated.

The Theme of Love

At its heart, Endymion is a love story, and the theme of love permeates every aspect of the poem. Longfellow portrays love as a force that is both powerful and mysterious, capable of transcending time and space. Endymion's love for Cynthia is all-consuming, and he is willing to risk everything to be with her. Longfellow's portrayal of love is both idealistic and realistic, capturing the complexities and nuances of human emotions.

Nature and the Sublime

Another major theme in Endymion is the beauty and mystery of nature. Longfellow's descriptions of the natural world are vivid and evocative, capturing the awe-inspiring grandeur of the mountains, forests, and rivers. He uses language to create a sense of the sublime, invoking feelings of wonder and amazement in the reader.

One of the most striking passages in the poem is the description of the Grecian forest in Book II. Longfellow's use of imagery paints a picture of a wild and untamed place, full of life and energy:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more, From these our interviews, in which I steal From all I may be, or have been before, To mingle with the Universe, and feel What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

This passage captures the essence of romanticism, with its celebration of nature and the sublime. Longfellow's use of language creates a sense of awe and wonder, drawing the reader into the natural world and allowing them to experience its beauty and mystery.

Symbolism and Allegory

Endymion is also rich in symbolism and allegory, with each character and event representing a deeper meaning or idea. The moon goddess, Cynthia, for example, is a symbol of beauty and perfection, while Endymion represents the human desire for love and transcendence. The journey to the underworld is an allegory for the human quest for knowledge and understanding, while the consummation of Endymion and Cynthia's love represents the unity of the physical and spiritual worlds.

Longfellow's use of symbolism and allegory adds depth and complexity to the poem, allowing the reader to explore its themes in a more profound way.


In conclusion, Endymion is a masterpiece of romantic poetry that explores the themes of love, nature, and the sublime in a way that is both powerful and moving. Longfellow's use of language is evocative and vivid, creating a world that is full of mystery and wonder. The poem's themes of love and nature are timeless, resonating with readers of all ages and backgrounds. Endymion is a work of enduring significance, a testament to the power of poetry to inspire and transform.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Endymion: A Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Endymion is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. This poem is a beautiful and romantic work that tells the story of Endymion, a shepherd who falls in love with the moon goddess, Selene. The poem is full of vivid imagery, beautiful language, and powerful emotions that make it a timeless masterpiece.

The poem is divided into four parts, each of which tells a different part of the story. The first part introduces us to Endymion, a young shepherd who is in love with the moon. He spends his days tending to his sheep and dreaming of Selene. The language in this part of the poem is rich and descriptive, painting a vivid picture of the pastoral landscape and the beauty of the moon.

In the second part of the poem, Endymion falls asleep on a hillside and is visited by Selene in a dream. She tells him that she loves him and that she will come to him every night in his dreams. This part of the poem is full of passion and longing, as Endymion and Selene express their love for each other.

The third part of the poem is where the story takes a darker turn. Endymion becomes obsessed with Selene and begins to neglect his duties as a shepherd. He spends all his time dreaming of her and waiting for her to visit him in his dreams. This part of the poem is full of tension and conflict, as Endymion struggles with his love for Selene and his responsibilities as a shepherd.

In the final part of the poem, Endymion is visited by the goddess Diana, who tells him that he must leave his love for Selene behind and return to his duties as a shepherd. Endymion is heartbroken, but he knows that he must obey Diana’s command. The poem ends with Endymion returning to his life as a shepherd, but still dreaming of Selene and the love that they shared.

One of the things that makes Endymion such a powerful poem is the way that Longfellow uses language to create vivid images and convey powerful emotions. The poem is full of beautiful metaphors and similes that help to bring the story to life. For example, in the first part of the poem, Longfellow describes the moon as “a silver boat, that in the sky/ Sails with soft motion.” This image of the moon as a boat sailing through the sky is both beautiful and evocative, and it helps to create a sense of wonder and magic.

Another example of Longfellow’s use of language can be found in the second part of the poem, where he describes Selene’s visit to Endymion in his dream. He writes, “Her voice was like the voice of his own soul/ Heard in the calm of thought.” This comparison of Selene’s voice to the voice of Endymion’s own soul is both poetic and powerful, and it helps to convey the depth of their love for each other.

Longfellow also uses imagery to create a sense of contrast between the beauty of Endymion’s love for Selene and the harsh realities of his life as a shepherd. In the third part of the poem, he writes, “The shepherd’s crook, the wattled fold/ Were left for damsels bright and gold.” This image of the abandoned shepherd’s crook and fold helps to create a sense of the contrast between the beauty of Endymion’s love for Selene and the mundane realities of his life as a shepherd.

In addition to its beautiful language and vivid imagery, Endymion is also a powerful exploration of the nature of love and the human experience. The poem explores the themes of passion, obsession, and sacrifice, and it asks important questions about the nature of love and the choices that we make in life.

One of the key themes of the poem is the idea of sacrifice. Endymion must choose between his love for Selene and his responsibilities as a shepherd, and he ultimately chooses to obey Diana’s command and return to his duties. This choice is a powerful example of the sacrifices that we must make in life, and it helps to underscore the importance of duty and responsibility.

Another important theme of the poem is the idea of obsession. Endymion becomes obsessed with Selene and neglects his duties as a shepherd, and this obsession ultimately leads to his downfall. This theme is a powerful exploration of the dangers of obsession and the importance of balance in our lives.

Overall, Endymion is a beautiful and powerful poem that explores important themes and asks important questions about the human experience. Longfellow’s use of language and imagery is masterful, and his exploration of the nature of love and sacrifice is both poetic and profound. This poem is a true masterpiece of literature, and it deserves to be read and appreciated by generations to come.

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