'Burial of the Minnisink' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

AI and Tech Aggregator
Download Mp3s Free
Tears of the Kingdom Roleplay
Best Free University Courses Online
TOTK Roleplay

On sunny slope and beechen swell,
The shadowed light of evening fell;
And, where the maple's leaf was brown,
With soft and silent lapse came down,
The glory, that the wood receives,
At sunset, in its golden leaves.

Far upward in the mellow light
Rose the blue hills.One cloud of white,
Around a far uplifted cone,
In the warm blush of evening shone;
An image of the silver lakes,
By which the Indian's soul awakes.

But soon a funeral hymn was heard
Where the soft breath of evening stirred
The tall, gray forest; and a band
Of stern in heart, and strong in hand,
Came winding down beside the wave,
To lay the red chief in his grave.

They sang, that by his native bowers
He stood, in the last moon of flowers,
And thirty snows had not yet shed
Their glory on the warrior's head;
But, as the summer fruit decays,
So died he in those naked days.

A dark cloak of the roebuck's skin
Covered the warrior, and within
Its heavy folds the weapons, made
For the hard toils of war, were laid;
The cuirass, woven of plaited reeds,
And the broad belt of shells and beads.

Before, a dark-haired virgin train
Chanted the death dirge of the slain;
Behind, the long procession came
Of hoary men and chiefs of fame,
With heavy hearts, and eyes of grief,
Leading the war-horse of their chief.

Stripped of his proud and martial dress,
Uncurbed, unreined, and riderless,
With darting eye, and nostril spread,
And heavy and impatient tread,
He came; and oft that eye so proud
Asked for his rider in the crowd.

They buried the dark chief; they freed
Beside the grave his battle steed;
And swift an arrow cleaved its way
To his stern heart!One piercing neigh
Arose, and, on the dead man's plain,
The rider grasps his steed again.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetic Analysis of "Burial of the Minnisink" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Have you ever read a poem that left you speechless, or a work of literature that moved you beyond words? The kind that leaves you pondering, questioning and admiring the author's skill long after you've finished reading it? That's the effect Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Burial of the Minnisink" had on me. This classic poem, first published in 1847, is a masterpiece of storytelling and poetic prowess.

Historical Context

Before delving into the analysis and interpretation of the poem, it's important to understand the historical context in which it was written. "Burial of the Minnisink" was inspired by a real-life event that occurred during the American Revolution. In July 1779, a group of American soldiers, led by Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Tusten, were ambushed by a group of Native American warriors while traveling through New York's Ramapo Mountains. The soldiers were outnumbered and outgunned, and only a few managed to escape. Tusten and the rest of the soldiers were killed and subsequently buried by the Native Americans.

Longfellow's poem tells the story of this event, but with a twist. Instead of focusing on the soldiers or the Native Americans, Longfellow shifts the focus to the community of Minisink, who come together to bury the fallen soldiers. The poem is not just a retelling of a historical event, but an ode to the virtue of community and the human spirit.

Poetic Devices

The first thing that strikes me about the poem is its use of poetic devices. Longfellow employs a range of literary techniques to create a vivid and emotive picture of the events. For instance, he uses repetition to emphasize the magnitude of the loss suffered by the community of Minisink. The refrain "And weep like women, though we fight like men" appears multiple times throughout the poem, and each time it serves as a reminder that even the bravest of soldiers can succumb to their mortal fate.

Longfellow also uses imagery to great effect in the poem. His descriptions of the natural world are not just ornamental, but serve to create a world that is alive and vibrant in the reader's mind. The opening lines of the poem, for example, paint a picture of a peaceful and idyllic world:

On sunny slope and beechen swell,
The shadowed light of evening fell;
And, where the maple's leaf was brown,
With soft and silent lapse came down
The glory that the wood receives,
At sunset, in its golden leaves.

The juxtaposition of the beauty of nature with the violence of war creates a sense of tragedy and loss that lingers throughout the poem.


One of the main themes of the poem is the idea of community. Longfellow depicts the people of Minisink as a close-knit group who come together in times of crisis. Despite the tragedy that has befallen them, the community does not break down, but instead rallies together to honor the fallen soldiers. Longfellow writes:

The warriors, that had watched all day,
Who now would track that moving clay?
Perhaps their funeral piles arise
Flames, that shall dim the midnight skies,
Till, folded in the sable shroud,
Shall sleep beneath the starry crowd.

Here, Longfellow emphasizes the importance of honoring the dead and the role of community in doing so. The poem is not just about the soldiers who fought and died, but about the people who came together to mourn and bury them.

Another theme in the poem is the fragility of human life. Longfellow portrays the soldiers as brave and valiant, but ultimately human. They are not invincible, and death can come for them at any moment. This is seen in the following lines:

Alas! How dreary would be life,
If, when this glow of pride is past,
And hope in grief is all we have,
If, then, the shadow of a strife,
In which the heart found peace at last,
Must, ever, ever come between,
And us, and that unchanging shore,
Where, linked with bliss, we part no more!

These lines remind us that, no matter how brave or powerful we may seem, our mortality is a fact that cannot be denied. The poem is a reminder that life is fleeting and that we should cherish every moment we have.


In conclusion, "Burial of the Minnisink" is a masterpiece of poetry that tells the story of a tragic event in American history while also reminding us of the importance of community and the fragility of human life. Longfellow's skillful use of poetic devices and vivid imagery creates a world that is both beautiful and tragic, and his themes resonate with readers to this day. This poem is a testament to the enduring power of literature and the human spirit.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Burial of the Minnisink: A Classic Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is one of the most celebrated poets of the 19th century, known for his lyrical and narrative poems that capture the essence of American life and history. Among his many works, one poem that stands out is "The Burial of the Minnisink," a stirring account of a tragic event that took place during the American Revolution. This classic poem is a masterpiece of storytelling, vivid imagery, and emotional depth, and it continues to inspire readers and poets alike.

The poem tells the story of a group of Minnisink Indians who fought alongside the British during the Revolutionary War. After a fierce battle with American forces, the Indians were forced to retreat, and many of them were killed or captured. The survivors, led by their chief, sought refuge in the mountains, but they were pursued by the Americans, who were determined to wipe them out. In the end, the Indians were surrounded and outnumbered, and they fought bravely to the last man. The poem describes their final moments and the burial of their bodies by their enemies.

The poem opens with a description of the Minnisink Indians, who are portrayed as proud and noble warriors. Longfellow uses vivid imagery to bring them to life, describing their "feathers waving in the wind," their "war-paint and their beads," and their "tomahawks and bows." He also emphasizes their loyalty to the British, who had promised to protect them from the Americans. This loyalty is a key theme of the poem, as it highlights the complex alliances and loyalties that existed during the Revolutionary War.

The poem then shifts to the battle itself, which is described in graphic detail. Longfellow uses powerful language to convey the horror and brutality of war, describing the "shrieks of agony and fear" and the "clash of steel and wood." He also emphasizes the courage and determination of the Minnisink warriors, who fight fiercely despite being outnumbered and outgunned. This section of the poem is a testament to the human spirit and the resilience of those who face adversity.

After the battle, the surviving Minnisink warriors retreat to the mountains, where they make their last stand. Longfellow describes their desperate situation, as they are surrounded by the Americans and have no hope of escape. He also emphasizes their bravery and defiance, as they refuse to surrender or beg for mercy. This section of the poem is particularly moving, as it captures the tragic fate of those who are caught up in the violence of war.

The final section of the poem describes the burial of the Minnisink warriors by their enemies. Longfellow uses this moment to reflect on the futility of war and the human cost of conflict. He also emphasizes the common humanity of all people, regardless of their race or nationality. The poem ends with a poignant reminder of the Minnisink warriors' sacrifice, as their "bones lie whitening in the sun."

Overall, "The Burial of the Minnisink" is a powerful and moving poem that captures the essence of the American Revolution. Longfellow's use of vivid imagery, powerful language, and emotional depth make this poem a classic of American literature. It is a testament to the human spirit and the resilience of those who face adversity, and it continues to inspire readers and poets alike.

Editor Recommended Sites

Erlang Cloud: Erlang in the cloud through elixir livebooks and erlang release management tools
Enterprise Ready: Enterprise readiness guide for cloud, large language models, and AI / ML
PS5 Deals App: Playstation 5 digital deals from the playstation store, check the metacritic ratings and historical discount level
WebGPU Guide: Learn WebGPU from tutorials, courses and best practice
ML Startups: Machine learning startups. The most exciting promising Machine Learning Startups and what they do

Recommended Similar Analysis

He is more than a hero by Sappho analysis
Written With a Pencil Upon a Stone In The Wall of The House, On The Island at Grasmere by William Wordsworth analysis
Nurse 's Song by William Blake analysis
E Tenebris by Oscar Wilde analysis
At Sea by Sarah Teasdale analysis
Bored by Margaret Atwood analysis
Child by Sylvia Plath analysis
Unknown Girl In A Maternity Ward by Anne Sexton analysis
So proud she was to die by Emily Dickinson analysis
One Art by Elizabeth Bishop analysis