Family: Henry was the son of Stephen Longfellow and Zilpah Wadsworth Longfellow. He was born February 27, 1807, in Portland, Maine. Portland was a seaport, and this gave its citizens a breadth of view lacking in the more insular New England towns. The variety of people and the activity of the harbors stirred the mind of the boy and gave him a curiosity about life beyond his own immediate experience
EDUCATION : He was sent to school when he was only three years old. When he was six, the following report of him was received at home: "Master Henry Longfellow is one of the best boys we have in school. He spells and reads very well. He can also add and multiply numbers. His conduct last quarter was very correct and amiable." Longfellow's father was eager to have his son become a lawyer. But when Henry was a senior at Bowdoin College at 19, the college established a chair of modern languages. The recent graduate was asked to become the first professor, with the understanding that he should be given a period of time in which to travel and study in Europe.
CAREER: Much tribute is due him as a teacher. Just as he served America in making the world conscious of its legend and tradition, so he opened to his students and to the American people the literary heritage of Europe. He created in them the new consciousness of the literature of Spain, France, Italy, and especially writings from the German, Nordic, and Icelandic cultures. His storytelling ability and simple direct poetic style make his writing quite enjoyable. He wrote several popular longer poems such as the familiar The Song of Hiawatha. He used many poetic techniques such as figures of speech.
Figures of speech in literature are expressions that clarify the meaning. Two figures of speech used often in poetry are alliteration and simile.
Alliteration is the repetition of sounds at the beginnings of two or more words in a line of poetry. An excellent example is this childhood verse; Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A simile compares two seemingly different things by saying one is like or as the other. If you said, she eats like a bird, you have created a simile.
These poetic devices are found in Excelsior by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This is a narrative poem that deals with the pursuit of a high or lofty goal. In it a young man sets such a goal and is tempted by various means to keep him from attaining it. He keeps saying, Excelsior, or higher, higher yet.
The shades of night were falling fast, As through an Alpine village passed A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, A banner with the strange device, Excelsior!
His brow was sad; his eye beneath Flashed like a falchion from its sheath, And like a silver clarion rung The accents of that unknown tongue, Excelsior!
In happy homes he saw the light Of household fires gleam warm and bright; Above, the spectral glaciers shone, And from his lips escaped a groan, Excelsior!
"Try not the Pass," the old man said; "Dark lours the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide!" And loud that clarion voice replied, Excelsior!
"O stay," the maiden said, "and rest Thy weary head upon this breast!" A tear stood in his bright blue eye, But still he answered, with a sigh, Excelsior!
"Beware the pine-tree's withered branch! Beware the awful avalanche!" This was the peasant's last Good-night. A voice replied, far up the height, Excelsior!
At break of day, as heavenward The pious monks of Saint Bernard Uttered the oft- repeated prayer, A voice cried through the startled air, Excelsior!
A traveller, by the faithful hound, Half-buried in the snow was found, Still grasping in his hands of ice That banner with the strange device, Excelsior!
There in the twilight cold and gray, Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay, And from the sky, serene and far, A voice fell, like a falling star, Excelsior!
A) dawn B) midnight C) dusk (early evening) D) noon E) morning
A) dogs were sent to look for the young man, B) the monks who live in out-of-the-way places heard the youths voice C) the monks welcomed the young man into their monastery D) the monks remembered the young man in their morning prayers E) none of these
A) The shades of night were falling fast B) The roaring torrent is deep and wide C) his eye beneath flashed like a falchion from its sheath" D) This was the peasants last Goodnight E) A voice cried through the shattered air Correct Answer: C
falling fast, as an Alpine, brow beneath, flashed falchion from, happy homes he, spectral shone, bright blue, still sigh, awful avalanche, there twilight, lifeless lay, sky serene, fell falling
Introduce the young man, the setting, and the idea of the pursuit of a high and lofty goal. Mention all the temptations thrown into his path as he proceeds on his journey. Discuss his death and how the poem still ends on a positive note. Bring the story to a well-rounded conclusion.
54321 IntroductionIncludes setting, young man, lofty goal Includes two of three requirement Includes one of three Doesnt mention any but has a topic sentence. Poor topic sentence. TemptationsIncludes five temptations Includes 4 out of 5 Includes 3 out of 5 Includes 2 out of 5 Includes 1 out of 5 Death/ positive note Describes death and positive note Describes one out of two No details of either but mentions both No details but mentions one No mention of this verse ConclusionSummary of poem and state purpose and oppinion Includes two out three Includes one of three No summary or purpose but has conclusion Ends with no conclusion Writing Convention No errors in grammar, punctuation One or two errors Two or three errors Three or four errors More than four errors