The Best Works from the “Fireside Poets”. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whitter, and James Russell Lowell. “Paul Revere's Ride,” “The Song of Hiawatha,” “Old Ironsides,” “The Chambered Nautilus,” “The First Snowfall”. Why the name “Fireside Poets”?.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
Oliver Wendell Holmes,
John Greenleaf Whitter,
and James Russell Lowell
“Paul Revere's Ride,” “The Song of Hiawatha,” “Old Ironsides,” “The Chambered Nautilus,” “The First Snowfall”
American settings and
however, were borrowed
from English tradition
were literary giants of their
Listen my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere . . .
Listen my children and you shall hearOf the midnight ride of Paul Revere,On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;Hardly a man is now aliveWho remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British marchBy land or sea from the town to-night,Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry archOf the North Church tower as a signal light,--One if by land, and two if by sea;And I on the opposite shore will be,Ready to ride and spread the alarmThrough every Middlesex village and farm,For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
On the Mountains of the Prairie, On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry, Gitche Manito, the mighty, He the Master of Life, descending, On the red crags of the quarry Stood erect, and called the nations, Called the tribes of men together. From his footprints flowed a river, Leaped into the light of morning, O'er the precipice plunging downward Gleamed like Ishkoodah, the comet. And the Spirit, stooping earthward, With his finger on the meadow Traced a winding pathway for it, Saying to it, "Run in this way!"
In a battle in the War of 1812, the American frigate Constitution routed the British Guerriere and suffered so little damage that it became known as “Old Ironsides.” However, in 1830, the ship, lying untended in a Boston navy yard, was called unseaworthy, and plans were made for its demolition. Holmes wrote the following poem as a protest against the destruction of the ship. First published in the Boston Daily Advertiser, it was copied in newspapers and scattered on broadsides all over the country. Such indignation was aroused that the ship was preserved as a national memorial. Holmes was then twenty-one, and the poem made him famous virtually overnight.
“Ay, tear her tattered ensign down! Long has it waved on high, And many an eye has danced to see That banner in the sky; Beneath it rung the battle shout, And burst the cannon's
roar; -- The meteor of the ocean
air Shall sweep the clouds
“Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,Where knelt the vanquished foe,When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,And waves were white below,No more shall feel the victor's tread,Or know the conquered knee;--The harpies of the shore shall pluckThe eagle of the sea!”
“Oh, better that her shattered bulkShould sink beneath the wave;Her thunders shook the mighty deep,And there should be her grave;Nail to the mast her holy flag,Set every threadbare sail,And give her to the god of storms,The lightning and the gale!”
A meteor has a brief, brilliant glory and then disappears. The Constitution seemed headed for a similar fate.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
“This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,Sail the unshadowed main,--The venturous bark that flingsOn the sweet summer wind its purpled wingsIn gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,And coral reefs lie bare,Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.”
“Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;Wrecked is the ship of pearl!And every chambered cell,Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,Before thee lies revealed,--Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!”
“Year after year beheld the silent toilThat spread his lustrous coil;Still, as the spiral grew,He left the past year's dwelling
for the new,Stole with soft step its shining
archway through,Built up its idle door,Stretched in his last-found home,
and knew the old no more.”
message brought by thee,Child of the wandering sea,Cast from her lap, forlorn!From thy dead lips
a clearer note is bornThan ever Triton blew
from wreathed horn;While on mine ear it rings,Through the deep caves of thought
I hear a voice that sings:--”
“Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,As the swift seasons roll!Leave thy low-vaulted past!Let each new temple, nobler than the last,Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,Till thou at length art free,Leaving thine outgrown shell
by life's unresting sea!”
James Russell Lowell
The First Snowfallby James Russell Lowell The snow had begun in the gloaming, And busily all the night Had been heaping field and highway With a silence deep and white. Every pine and fir and hemlock Wore ermine too dear for an earl, And the poorest twig on the elm-tree Was ridged inch deep with pearl. From sheds new-roofed with Carrara Came Chanticleer's muffled crow, The stiff rails were softened to swan's-down, And still fluttered down the snow. I stood and watched by the window The noiseless work of the sky, And the sudden flurries of snow-birds, Like brown leaves whirling by.