Thursday, October 23, 2008

A short tribute to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Lake Minnetonka, Excelsior and Minnesota owe a debt to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of America's greatest poets. His writings often embodied the sprit of early Minnsota in both geography and spirit.
The “Song of Hiawatha” sent tens of thousands of travelers and tourists to Lake Minnetonka in the second half of the 19th century.
A friendly poster to this blog once wrote to me asking me if I knew when Longfellow came to Minnesota, and who he had visited. He had heard a friend tell of his grandfather dining with Henry W. near Gray’s Bay. Sadly, my research has led me to conlude that Longfelllow never came to Minnesota.
I present one of Longfellow’s most well known pieces for the apple lovers of "Excelsior!"
The Arrow and the Song:

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Notes from the Poetry Exchange:
Longfellow wrote: "October 16, 1845. Before church, wrote The Arrow and the Song, which came into my mind as I stood with my back to the fire, and glanced on to the paper with arrow's speed. Literally an improvisation."

Longfellow knew personal sadness and hardship tragically losing 2 wives. He often wrote metaphorically of the trials of a young nation. His words carry weight today.


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