are people listening to a recording of 19th century poetry?
A: As an antidote to twenty-first-century
hyperstimulation. The CD is calming, reflective, thought-provoking.
A 10-year-old boy told me he uses it as a bedtime story. A historical
society in Massachusetts wrote that the recordings reawakened
their old love of Longfellow. An architect said she gathered with
friends and listened around a fire, leading to warm, deep conversation.
I use it in my car, as a relief from noise, news, and traffic.
More than one person has told me that they listen to the CD in
the early morning, upon arising, to set their emotional thermostat
for the day.
Q: That's a pretty
A: I hope we've only begunthis recording
was originally intended for libraries and schools, to introduce
Longfellow to a new generation of students and readers. It's for
the expansion of wisdom and the opening of the heart; for reintroducing
a truly great, good, generous mind from a gentler time.
Q: Why did you
choose these particular eighteen poems?
A: They reveal both the internationally
beloved "Poet of the People" and the internationally respected
scholar. This is what I so value about Longfellow's poetryhe
speaks to your heart from his heart, using his exceptional mind
as interpreter. This collection shows the breadth of his sensibility,
his cultural courage, his myth-making vision. Poems range from
popular works like "Evangeline," "The Children's Hour," and "Hiawatha,"
to the lesser known, such as the antislavery poems of 1842. "What
do you think of the slavery poems?" he wrote to his father. "Some
wish I had not written them, but my heart bade me do so and my
mind agreed." That is the very measure of a man, and of a peoplethat
the mind should affirm the impulse of the heart and bring it forth.
Q: Why at this
particular time? As we speak, America is at war.
A: We think a great deal now about what
it means to be American, and so very much depends on our answer.
Longfellow articulated the major American myths within which we
have lived for generations. He was likely the most internationally
popular and domestically influential American poet in history.
More than any other poet, he teaches us where we came from. How
better to know where we were headed?
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Dream That Would Not Die >