'Voices Of the Night' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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Pleasant it was, when woods were green,
And winds were soft and low,
To lie amid some sylvan scene,
Where, the long drooping boughs between
Shadows dark and sunlight sheen
Alternate come and go;
Or where the denser grove receives
No sunlight from above
But the dark foliage interweaves
In one unbroken roof of leaves,
Underneath whose sloping eaves
The shadows hardly move.
Beneath some patriarchal tree
I lay upon the ground;
His hoary arms uplifted he,
And all the broad leaves over me
Clapped their little hands in glee,
With one continuous sound;-
A slumberous sound,-a sound that brings
The feelings of a dream,-
As of innumerable wings,
As, when a bell no longer swings,
Faint the hollow murmur rings
O'er meadow, lake, and stream.
And dreams of that which cannot die,
Bright visins, came to me,
As lapped in thought I used to lie,
And gaze into the summer sky,
Where the sailing clouds went by,
Like ships upon the sea;
Dreams that the soul of youth engage
Ere Fancy has been quelled;
Old legends of the monkish page.
Traditions of the saint and sage,
Tales that have the rime of age,
And chronicles of Eld.
And, loving still these quaint old themes,
Even in the city's throng
I feel the freshness of the streams,
That, crossed by shades and sunny gleams,
Water the green land of dreams,
The holy land of song.
Therefore, at Pentecost, which brings
The Spring, clothed like a bride,
When nestling buds unfold their wings,
And bishop's-caps have golden rings,
Musing upon many things,
I sought the woodlands wide.
The green trees whispered low and mild,
It was a sound of joy!
They were my playmates when a child
And rocked me in their arms so wild!
Still they looked at me and smiled
As if I were a boy;
And ever whispered, mild and low,
"Come, be a child once more!"
And waved their long arms to and fro,
And beckoned solemnly and slow;
O, I could not choose but go
Into the woodlands hoar;
Into the blithe and breathing air,
Into the solemn wood.
Solemn and silent everywhere!
Nature with folded hands seemed there,
Kneeling at her evening prayer!
Like one in prayer I stood.
Before me rose an avenue
Of tall and sombrous pines;
Abroad their fan-like branches grew,
And, where the sunshine darted throught
Spread a vapor soft and blue,
In long and sloping lines.
And, falling on my weary brain,
Like a fast-falling shower,
The dreams of youth came back again,
Low lispings of the summer rain,
Dropping on the ripened grain,
As once upon the flower.
Visions of childhood!Stay, O stay!
Ye were so sweet and wild!
And distant voices seemed to say,
"It cannot be! They pass away!
Other themes demand thy lay;
Thou art no more a child!
"The land of Song within thee lies,
Watered by living springs;
The lids of Fancy's sleepless eyes
Are gates unto that Paradise;
Holy thoughts, like stars, arise,
Its clouds are angels' wings.
"Learn, that henceforth thy song shall be
Not mountains capped with snow,
Nor forests sounding like the sea,
Nor rivers flowing ceaselessly,
Where the woodlands bend to see
The bending heavens below.
"There is a forest where the din
Of iron branches sounds!
A mighty river roara between,
And whosoever looks therein,
Sees the heavens all black with sin,-
Sees not ita depths, nor bounds.
"Athwart the swinging branches cast,
Soft rays of sunshine pour;
Then comes the fearful wintry blast;
Our hopes, like withered leaves, fall fast;
Pallid lips say, 'It is past!
We can return no more!'
"Look, then, into thine heart, and write!
Yes, into Life's deep stream!
All forms of sorrow and delight,
All solemn Voices of the Night,
That can soothe thee, or affright,-
Be these henceforth thy theme."
Editor 1 Interpretation
Voices of the Night by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: A Journey through the Poems of the Master Wordsmith
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a master wordsmith of the 19th century. He is known for his most famous works such as "Paul Revere's Ride" and "The Song of Hiawatha." However, his lesser-known work, "Voices of the Night," is equally impressive and deserves more recognition. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve into the world of Longfellow's poetry and explore how "Voices of the Night" is a masterpiece of its own.
Overview of Voices of the Night
"Voices of the Night" is a collection of poems that was first published in 1839. The collection consists of various themes such as love, death, nature, and spirituality. The poems are written in Longfellow's signature style of using simple language and vivid imagery to convey complex emotions and ideas.
The collection is divided into two parts. The first part, "Prelude," consists of shorter poems that serve as an introduction to the larger themes of the collection. The second part, "Poems of the Night," is where the collection really shines. It is in this section where Longfellow explores the deeper and darker aspects of life, particularly the themes of death and spirituality.
Poetry Analysis: Prelude
The Prelude section of "Voices of the Night" consists of eight poems. These poems serve as an introduction to the larger themes of the collection and establish the tone and style of Longfellow's poetry.
In the first poem, "Hymn to the Night," Longfellow personifies the night as a mysterious and powerful force. He describes the night as a "mighty being" that has the power to heal and restore. This poem sets the tone for the rest of the collection, as Longfellow uses the night as a metaphor for the deeper and darker aspects of life.
In the second poem, "A Psalm of Life," Longfellow explores the theme of mortality and the purpose of life. He encourages the reader to live a meaningful life and make a positive impact on the world. This poem is a call to action that is both inspiring and uplifting.
The third poem, "The Reaper and the Flowers," is a meditation on death and the cycle of life. Longfellow uses the metaphor of a reaper harvesting flowers to represent the inevitability of death. However, he also emphasizes the beauty and fragility of life, which makes it all the more precious.
The fourth poem, "The Light of Stars," is a reflection on the wonder and beauty of the night sky. Longfellow uses vivid imagery to describe the stars as "the thoughts of God" and "the burning tears of angels." This poem is a tribute to the natural world and its ability to inspire awe and wonder.
The fifth poem, "Footsteps of Angels," is a contemplation on the idea of angels and their role in our lives. Longfellow suggests that angels are always present, guiding us and protecting us. This poem is a reminder that we are never truly alone.
In the sixth poem, "Flowers," Longfellow celebrates the beauty and fragility of flowers. He uses various metaphors to describe the flowers as "the smiles of God" and "the thoughts of spring." This poem is a tribute to the natural world and its ability to inspire joy and wonder.
The seventh poem, "The Beleaguered City," is a powerful political poem that reflects on the state of the world during the 19th century. Longfellow uses the metaphor of a besieged city to represent the struggles and hardships of humanity. This poem is a call to action that encourages the reader to fight for justice and equality.
In the final poem of the Prelude section, "Midnight Mass for the Dying Year," Longfellow reflects on the passing of time and the inevitability of change. He uses the metaphor of a funeral to represent the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. This poem is a meditation on the fleeting nature of life and the importance of cherishing every moment.
Poetry Analysis: Poems of the Night
The Poems of the Night section of "Voices of the Night" consists of ten poems. These poems explore the deeper and darker aspects of life, particularly the themes of death and spirituality.
In the first poem, "The Skeleton in Armor," Longfellow tells the story of a Viking warrior who reflects on his life as he faces death. This poem is a meditation on mortality and the human experience of facing death. Longfellow uses vivid imagery to convey the warrior's emotional journey and the inevitability of death.
In the second poem, "The Wreck of the Hesperus," Longfellow tells the tragic story of a ship that is caught in a storm and sinks. This poem is a meditation on the destructive power of nature and the fragility of human life. Longfellow uses vivid imagery to convey the horror of the shipwreck and the tragedy of the lives lost.
The third poem, "Chaucer," is a tribute to the famous English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. Longfellow uses vivid imagery to describe Chaucer's life and work, and celebrates his contribution to English literature. This poem is a reminder of the power of art and its ability to transcend time and place.
In the fourth poem, "The Cross of Snow," Longfellow reflects on the death of his wife and his grief. He uses the metaphor of a cross made of snow to represent his pain and loss. This poem is a meditation on the human experience of grief and the power of love to endure.
In the fifth poem, "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport," Longfellow reflects on the history and culture of the Jewish people. He uses vivid imagery to describe the cemetery and celebrate the lives of the people buried there. This poem is a tribute to the diversity and richness of human culture.
In the sixth poem, "The Arsenal at Springfield," Longfellow reflects on the power of weapons and the destructive nature of war. He uses vivid imagery to describe the arsenal and the weapons it contains, and encourages the reader to pursue peace and nonviolence. This poem is a call to action that urges the reader to work towards a more peaceful world.
In the seventh poem, "The Bridge," Longfellow uses the metaphor of a bridge to represent the connection between life and death. He reflects on the human experience of facing death and the hope that there is something beyond this life. This poem is a meditation on the mysteries of life and death and the power of faith to guide us.
In the eighth poem, "Sandalphon," Longfellow reflects on the idea of angels and their role in our lives. He uses the story of Sandalphon, a Jewish angel, to explore the idea of prayer and its power to connect us to the divine. This poem is a meditation on spirituality and the human experience of seeking connection and meaning.
In the ninth poem, "The Witnesses," Longfellow reflects on the idea of memory and its power to shape our lives. He uses vivid imagery to describe the witnesses of history and the importance of remembering the past. This poem is a reminder of the power of history and its ability to shape our understanding of the world.
In the final poem of the collection, "A Dream Within a Dream," Longfellow reflects on the fleeting nature of time and the human experience of facing change. He uses vivid imagery to describe the impermanence of life and the inevitability of change. This poem is a meditation on the mysteries of life and the importance of cherishing every moment.
In conclusion, "Voices of the Night" is a masterpiece of poetry that explores the human experience of facing death, spirituality, and the mysteries of life. Longfellow's simple language and vivid imagery convey complex emotions and ideas with ease, making this collection accessible and powerful. The themes explored in this collection are timeless and relevant, making it a must-read for anyone interested in poetry and the human experience. Longfellow's legacy as a master wordsmith is secure, and "Voices of the Night" is a shining example of his talent and skill.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry has always been a medium of expression that has the power to stir emotions and evoke feelings that are often difficult to put into words. One such poem that has stood the test of time and continues to inspire readers even today is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Voices of the Night." This classic poem, first published in 1839, is a beautiful ode to the power of nature and the human spirit. In this article, we will take a closer look at the poem and explore its themes, structure, and literary devices.
The poem is divided into three parts, each of which explores a different aspect of the human experience. The first part, "Prelude," sets the tone for the rest of the poem and introduces the reader to the idea of the "voices of the night." Longfellow describes the night as a time when the world is quiet and still, and the only sounds that can be heard are the whispers of nature. He writes, "The night is come, but not too soon; / And sinking silently, / All silently, the little moon / Drops down behind the sky."
The second part of the poem, "The Evening Star," is a beautiful tribute to the power of love and the human spirit. Longfellow uses the image of the evening star to represent the hope and inspiration that love can bring into our lives. He writes, "O star of evening, bright and fair, / That showest the way to heaven's pure air, / Where soul shall find its kindred soul, / And drink of bliss from the eternal bowl!"
The final part of the poem, "Midnight Mass for the Dying Year," is a poignant reflection on the passage of time and the inevitability of death. Longfellow uses the image of the dying year to represent the fleeting nature of life and the importance of cherishing every moment. He writes, "And the year that's dying in the night / Gives up to the world's white hand / A hostage for the dawning light."
One of the most striking aspects of "Voices of the Night" is Longfellow's use of imagery and symbolism. Throughout the poem, he uses vivid descriptions of nature to create a sense of atmosphere and mood. For example, in the first part of the poem, he describes the moon as "sinking silently" and the stars as "twinkling" in the sky. These images create a sense of tranquility and stillness that is characteristic of the night.
In the second part of the poem, Longfellow uses the image of the evening star to represent the power of love and the human spirit. The star is described as "bright and fair" and as showing the way to "heaven's pure air." This image creates a sense of hope and optimism that is central to the theme of the poem.
In the final part of the poem, Longfellow uses the image of the dying year to represent the passage of time and the inevitability of death. He writes, "And the year that's dying in the night / Gives up to the world's white hand / A hostage for the dawning light." This image creates a sense of sadness and loss that is central to the theme of the poem.
Another important aspect of "Voices of the Night" is Longfellow's use of rhyme and meter. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which means that each line has four iambs, or metrical feet. This creates a sense of rhythm and flow that is characteristic of Longfellow's poetry. Additionally, the poem uses a variety of rhyme schemes, including ABAB, AABB, and ABCCB. This creates a sense of musicality and harmony that is central to the poem's themes.
In conclusion, "Voices of the Night" is a beautiful and timeless poem that explores the themes of nature, love, and the passage of time. Longfellow's use of imagery, symbolism, and rhyme creates a sense of atmosphere and mood that is both powerful and evocative. Whether you are a lover of poetry or simply appreciate the beauty of language, "Voices of the Night" is a must-read for anyone who wants to experience the power of words.
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