The Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Reader's Guide - Discussion Questions
- Why was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow so popular with his original audience? Which of these reasons remain valid today?
- Longfellow is often thought of as the poet who gave voice to the experiences and emotions of the common person. What examples of this do you see in his poetry?
- Poetry usually must be emotional to be effective, but some readers may then disapprovingly call it sentimental. Are there moments where Longfellow risks this accusation of sentimentality to make an emotional point?
- What might Longfellow’s Evangeline tell us about ethnic cleansing, about racial and religious persecution? How relevant is this poem for the 21st century?
- Longfellow was a national figure because he wrote for a diverse audience about broad themes. What contemporary writers or artists have a similar position today?
- In his poems and storytelling, what is Longfellow’s lasting cultural legacy?
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