Feb 25, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: Celebrating Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thank you to Liz Steinglass for hosting Poetry Friday this week!
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I have been busy writing and revising lately, and it has been way too long since I’ve posted. But I wanted to jump back into Poetry Friday this week to talk about American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was born on February 27, 1807.
Longfellow is the author of many well-loved poems, including one of the first poems I ever memorized as a child:

There Was a Little Girl
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
            When she was good,
            She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

Longfellow also wrote another one of my favorite poems, The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride, which I read every year to my third graders when I was a teacher. Although not 100% historically accurate, the narrative of the poem captures the urgency and spirit of this moment in America's collective consciousness. The cadence and atmosphere is spectacular, and it is always such a joy to read aloud. Here is the opening stanza:

The Landlord's Tale. Paul Revere's Ride
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

Listen my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of 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 alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
To read the rest of this poem, click here

Thanks for stopping by to celebrate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s birthday tomorrow! Have a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!


  1. I remember "There was a little girl" -- just so easy to memorize :-) I was looking at Poetry Out Loud videos recently and noticed that Longfellow was very popular. Here's an example, plus a Longfellow reading by Sean Astin (Sam from Lord of the Rings): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rPT0yxFSZc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXKAWwSN0_s

  2. That first poem is me! I say it all the time. I have a curl right in that spot and most of the time I am very, very good. : )

    1. That is so cute, Liz! I think this poem is a lot more well-known that people think!

  3. I have slim volume of his poems. Haven't seen the Paul Revere one. It always surprises me when people can write an entire story in rhyme and it's this good! Happy Friday!!!

    1. You are right, Vijaya. It is so tough to get a good narrative and a great rhyme to merge perfectly!

  4. Dear Becky,
    You write great poetry. You also share wonderful poetry from the master poets.
    Great rhythm in these you shared today.
    Thank you very much.

    Love, Joan

  5. I remember memorizing Paul Revere's Ride when I was in 8th grade. Had fun visiting Longfellow's house in Portland, ME a couple of years ago. :)

  6. Happy Birthday Mr. Longfellow! Love these story poems. They never grow old.

  7. I love the first one, especially. Somehow the curl in the middle of her forehead just defined her adorableness.


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