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Page 345

GREAT AMERICAN AUTHORS
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

Washington had been quartered when he came to Cambridge in 1775 to take command of the Continental army.
The events of Longfellow's life were few, but his service to his country was as real as though he had been a great general or a statesman. Tlte weak and struggling nation had become powerful and wealthy. Pioneer hardships were being forgotten, and with growing wealth came increasing need for keeping alive the plain household virtues of simplicity and sincerity.
Longfellow is our "Household Poet." Poems like "The Arrow and the Song," "The Psalm of Life," and scores of others have become household treasures. Like Franklin's homely proverbs of thrift, they appeal not to the few but to all sorts of people. To those youths who long to do great things he says,

" All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time."
The village blacksmith teaches how,
" At the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought."

Longfellow's gift lay in his power of telling stories. He could translate a legend into ringing verse, and he told colonial history and legend in such form that children and their parents alike take delight in them. He studied the legends of the Indians and wrote about them in a long poem, "Hiawatha," one of the most precious possessions of American literature. He translated poems from foreign literature in such a way as to make them seem our own. He is the poet of history and legend, of the culture that Europe had possessed ior centuries but that America, the new country, had to make for herself.
He is, finally, the poet of childhood and youth. This is because he loved children. He said to them:
" Ye are better than all the ballads That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems, And all the rest are dead."

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