Longfellow was a poet who’s known for his lyrical and melodious-sounding poems with a strong message. His style and use of words easily connect with the reader. This is what makes Longfellow great. You need not be an English major to understand and enjoy his poetry. Longfellow love poems are a rarity as most of his work had morals and minds as their core subject.
We have assorted six love poems by Longfellow along with their meaning. These love poems do not strictly pertain to romantic love or love between two specific people. These poems are under the public domain, but we recommend visiting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s official website and reading more of his poetry.
There is a love that cannot die! –
And some their doom have met
Heart-broken – and gone as stars go by,
That rise, and burn, and set.
Their days were in Spring’s fallen leaf-
Tender – and young – and bright – and brief.
There is a love that cannot die! –
Aye – it survives the grave;
When life goes out with many a sigh,
And earth takes what it gave,
Its light is on the home of those
That heed not when the cold wind blows.
With us there are sad records left
Of life’s declining day:
How true hearts here were broken and cleft,
And how they passed away.
And yon dark rock that swells above
Its blue lake – has a tale of love.
‘T is of an Indian maid, whose fate
Was saddened by the burst
Of passion, that made desolate
The heart it filled at first.
Her lover was false-hearted, – yet
Her love she never could forget.
It was a summer-day, and bright
The sun was going down:
The wave lay blushing in rich light
Beneath the dark rock’s frown,
And under the green maple’s shade
Her lover’s bridal feast was made.
She stood upon the rocky steep,
Grief had her heart unstrung,
And far across the lake’s blue sweep
Was heard the dirge she sung.
It ceased – and in the deep cold wave
The Indian Girl has made her grave.
This poem is about the tragic love story of an Indian maid whose lover was not what she had thought of. The poem first talks about true love, and how true love is undying. We get to know about the story of the Indian maid in the latter part of the poem. She fell in love with a man. However, the man was filled with false love. There was a feast prepared for their marriage but the man never came. This caused the Indian maid to take her life and mark her grave as a sign of true love.
In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
A gentle face — the face of one long dead —
Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
Here in this room she died; and soul more white
Never through martyrdom of fire was led
To its repose; nor can in books be read
The legend of a life more benedight.
There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
This poem signifies a lot of importance for the poet. Longfellow wrote this poem for his dead wife, Frances Appleton. His wife, Appleton was caught in an accident when her dress caught fire. Longfellow rushed to save her but soon after, she succumbed to her injuries. Longfellow had his face injured while saving her and hence he started wearing the iconic beard that we are all familiar with.
Cross snow signifies the life he has had after the death of his wife. How much he misses her and how seasons have turned changeless in her absence is evident in the poem. His description of her wife with phrases like a gentle face, a soul more white, etc shows his love for her.
More classic poems:
The evening star
Lo! in the painted oriel of the West,
Whose panes the sunken sun incarnadines,
Like a fair lady at her casement, shines
The evening star, the star of love and rest!
And then anon she doth herself divest
Of all her radiant garments, and reclines
Behind the sombre screen of yonder pines,
With slumber and soft dreams of love oppressed.
O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus!
My morning and my evening star of love!
My best and gentlest lady! even thus,
As that fair planet in the sky above,
Dost thou retire unto thy rest at night,
And from thy darkened window fades the light.
Longfellow wrote this poem to show his love and fascination towards the evening and morning star, which is the planet, Venus. What’s interesting to note here is that Longfellow addresses Hesperus as a woman. This is not the case as Hesperus is a man. According to Greek mythology, Hesperus is the son of the Goddess of Dawn, Eos. So why does Longfellow call her a woman?
Another peculiarity is that Longfellow refers to Hesperus as the morning and the evening star. But the morning star has a different name, Phosphorus, the half-brother of Hesperus. One interpretation of this confusing situation could be that Longfellow is referring to some woman as being the evening and morning stars of his life. It can also be that Longfellow does not care about the gender of God. It is his decision to consider it the way he does in the poem. But surely, this is a love poem.
Until we meet again! That is the meaning
Of the familiar words, that men repeat
At parting in the street.
Ah yes, till then! but when death intervening
Rends us asunder, with what ceaseless pain
We wait for the Again!
The friends who leave us do not feel the sorrow
Of parting, as we feel it, who must stay
Lamenting day by day,
And knowing, when we wake upon the morrow,
We shall not find in its accustomed place
The one beloved face.
It were a double grief, if the departed,
Being released from earth, should still retain
A sense of earthly pain;
It were a double grief, if the true-hearted,
Who loved us here, should on the farther shore
Remember us no more.
Believing, in the midst of our afflictions,
That death is a beginning, not an end,
We cry to them, and send
Farewells, that better might be called predictions,
Being fore-shadowings of the future, thrown
Into the vast Unknown.
Faith overleaps the confines of our reason,
And if by faith, as in old times was said,
Women received their dead
Raised up to life, then only for a season
Our partings are, nor shall we wait in vain
Until we meet again!
Not the conventional love poem one would expect it to be, but it is a love poem that emerges from the pain of parting. This poem is clearly dedicated to a friend of Longfellow who passed away. But apart from just showing grief and love towards the departed, Longfellow also incorporates a lot of beliefs and human psychology in the poem.
The first three paragraphs are about the absence of the loved one and the pain this absence brings. How each passing minute reminds us of the person who once was there, the face of the person, everything about that person is now just a memory. He also looks at the possibility of the people who left forgetting about their lives and loved ones here on earth. What if the people who leave this place find themselves in a worse place?
The last two paragraphs are about the possibility of life after death. It is filled with speculations about what world the dead go to. In the end, he says “Faith overleaps the confines of our reason” and this is a very crucial sentence. This is where Longfellow says that even if there is no proof about life after death or anything after demise, we still heed faith instead of reason.
The rising moon has hid the stars;
Her level rays, like golden bars,
Lie on the landscape green,
With shadows brown between.
And silver white the river gleams,
As if Diana, in her dreams
Had dropt her silver bow
Upon the meadows low.
On such a tranquil night as this,
She woke Endymion with a kiss,
When, sleeping in the grove,
He dreamed not of her love.
Like Dian’s kiss, unasked, unsought,
Love gives itself, but is not bought;
Nor voice, nor sound betrays
Its deep, impassioned gaze.
It comes,–the beautiful, the free,
The crown of all humanity,–
In silence and alone
To seek the elected one.
It lifts the boughs, whose shadows deep
Are Life’s oblivion, the soul’s sleep,
And kisses the closed eyes
Of him who slumbering lies.
O weary hearts! O slumbering eyes!
O drooping souls, whose destinies
Are fraught with fear and pain,
Ye shall be loved again!
No one is so accursed by fate,
No one so utterly desolate,
But some heart, though unknown,
Responds unto his own.
Responds,–as if with unseen wings,
An angel touched its quivering strings;
And whispers, in its song,
“Where hast thou stayed so long?”
Maiden! with the meek, brown eyes,
In whose orbs a shadow lies
Like the dusk in evening skies!
Thou whose locks outshine the sun,
Golden tresses, wreathed in one,
As the braided streamlets run!
Standing, with reluctant feet,
Where the brook and river meet,
Womanhood and childhood fleet!
Gazing, with a timid glance,
On the brooklet’s swift advance,
On the river’s broad expanse!
Deep and still, that gliding stream
Beautiful to thee must seem,
As the river of a dream.
Then why pause with indecision,
When bright angels in thy vision
Beckon thee to fields Elysian?
Seest thou shadows sailing by,
As the dove, with startled eye,
Sees the falcon’s shadow fly?
Hearest thou voices on the shore,
That our ears perceive no more,
Deafened by the cataract’s roar?
Oh, thou child of many prayers!
Life hath quicksands,–Life hath snares
Care and age come unawares!
Like the swell of some sweet tune,
Morning rises into noon,
May glides onward into June.
Childhood is the bough, where slumbered
Birds and blossoms many-numbered;–
Age, that bough with snows encumbered.
Gather, then, each flower that grows,
When the young heart overflows,
To embalm that tent of snows.
Bear a lily in thy hand;
Gates of brass cannot withstand
One touch of that magic wand.
Bear through sorrow, wrong, and ruth,
In thy heart the dew of youth,
On thy lips the smile of truth.
Oh, that dew, like balm, shall steal
Into wounds that cannot heal,
Even as sleep our eyes doth seal;
And that smile, like sunshine, dart
Into many a sunless heart,
For a smile of God thou art.