In retrospect, what top 100 Poems list could exist without a Longfellow poem? How could we have left him out? Well, in the end, we didn't. There will be more Longfellow to populate the top 100 list; namely the infamous "Paul Revere's Ride" -- although equally important to American literature would be "The Song of Hiawatha", which as an epic poem, would stretch the boundaries of this blog!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is often described as the greatest American poet; -- of course that is up for debate, but he remains a legendary figure in American poetry today. He was born in Portland, Maine, February 27, 1807, and he died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 24, 1882. At a very early age Longfellow gave evidences of poetic genius. Numerous stories are told of his youthful genius; he wasn't alone in exhibiting this trait. Though much of his work is categorized as lyric poetry, Longfellow experimented with many forms, including hexameter and free verse.
He had become one of the first American celebrities and was also popular in Europe. It was reported that 10,000 copies of The Courtship of Miles Standish sold in London in a single day.
A Psalm of Life
What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.