Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Poetry
Dreams that Cannot Die

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poetry, adapted for performance by Layne Longfellow, has had a striking effect on a wide population of lovers and non-lovers of poetry. Here are some of each.

"It is high time that the sense and the sound of this major American voice were brought freshly to our ears."

Billy Collins
Poet Laureate of the United States

"I believe my great grandfather and my grandmother would have loved this work. I am enchanted by it."

Dr. Ann Hutchinson Guest, creator, Language of Dance
Granddaughter of Longfellow's "Edith with golden hair"

"A triumph of Longfellow family genetics! Like a fine wine, to be taken in sips of reflection, as poet and reader build castles in the mind."

Art Linkletter, radio and TV legend

"My students love your CD. Longfellow set to music helps them to see how peaceful poetry can be. They like the fact that some words are changed; it makes 19th century poetry easier to understand."

Cynthia Daigle, Wisdom Middle/High School, St. Agatha, Maine

"Layne Longfellow has led the good grey poet Henry Wadsworth right out of the grave that modernist criticism dug for him. By reading against the regular meters, like the trochaic tetrameter of 'Hiawatha,' that so pleased Longfellow's 19th century readers, he has created a Longfellow for our own time."

Rebecca B. Faery, Ph.D.
Director, First Year Writing Program, MIT

"Longfellow's words, which were lost to me, have now come alive."

Vivian Shipley, Ph.D., Editor, Connecticut Review

"Layne Longfellow brings far more than his name to these readings—he invokes the contemplative strength of Henry Longfellow with grace and resonance. The fabric of music, poetry, and voice that Michael Hoppe creates with the Longfellows is always pleasurable, and constantly reaffirms the power of poetry."

Matthew Pearl, author, The Dante Club

"Like finding a letter in the attic from a long-forgotten friend. Layne Longfellow's enchanted readings bring Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poetry back to life, and refresh our memory of a gentler, more innocent time."

Sam Keen, author, Fire in the Belly

"It is at first jarring to hear changes in these poems; my curatorial instinct asks that works be preserved. I surmise that Longfellow himself, a perennial champion of amazingly diverse popularizations of his work, would be quite untroubled. In the proper spirit of Longfellow Poetry, it is soothing, reassuring."

Matthew Gartner, Ph.D., Asst. Professor of English, City University of New York
Author, Becoming Longfellow, Longfellow's Place

"Your CD is stunning, poignant, and hits deep—the beauty of Michael Hoppe's work and how well it serves the poetry, your plangent reading voice, your ability to read poetry so that the rhymes do not dominate unduly, your reworking of the poems themselves—it seems a cooperative venture between you and Henry, a bridge across time."

Peggy Seeger, singer, songwriter, activist

"I have known these poems all my life, and have never heard them read so powerfully. Longfellow would be honored by this reading of his work."

Diana Der Hovanessian, author, The Burning Glass
President, New England Poetry Club

"I did not know Longfellow's poetry. Through this moving CD, I have heard his passion, met his rich characters, and seen his world. Layne Longfellow's heartfelt readings and Michael Hoppe's inspired music unfold these poems in soul-centering visualization."

Shakti Gawain, author, Creative Visualization

"If one person can bring about a rediscovery of the sound and feeling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poetry, it will be you. Bravo."

Diana Korzenik, Founder, Friends of the Longfellow House

"The confluence of Hoppe's music, your voice modulation, and Longfellow's poems is an extraordinary experience! No one who heard your readings at my seminar remained unmoved, or will ever forget it."

Brugh Joy, M.D., author, Joy's Way

"These readings are archival; they will endure."

Richard P. Dober, Campus Designer, Historic Preservationist

"Michael Hoppe's distinctive style...keep(s) me in awe of his genius."

Helga Sandburg, poet, author

"Your adaptations transform 19th-century poems into emotional expressions that are accessible to listeners of the 21st century. You skillfully preserve the emotion behind the poetry, lifting it from the distracting versification that is so much of the period. The music is more than a "score," it is a "hat trick."

John Robert Colombo, Editor,
The Penguin Treasury of Popular Canadian Poems and Songs

"I had a grand midnight ride home, with you and your grand ancestor speaking to me through the dark. Your friend Michael's music goes well with your mellifluous voice, which deftly shapes and shades HW's verse. Great to hear good poetry read well."

F.D. Reeve, Golden Rose Award Recipient,
New England Poetry Club

"Layne Longfellow reads life and warmth into Henry Longfellow poetry, and the windows of the Wayside Inn gleam red with firelight once more."

Bob Purrington, Innkeeper, Longfellow's Wayside Inn

"Layne Longfellow's readings are evocative and compelling. Beautifully complemented by Michael Hoppe's music, they draw us into the magic of Henry Longfellow's world."

Esther Myers, author, Yoga and You

"Great poets pierce the veil of life to the purity of existence. Layne Longfellow's reading of Henry Longfellow's poetry work parts the veil. I was left speechless, mind quieted, soul stirred. Our children's lives could be changed by hearing this honored American poetry presented with such care and intelligence."

Harry S. Dent, Jr., economist, author, The Roaring 2000s

"If you are not sure you enjoy poetry, listen to Longfellow Reads Longfellow. You will fall in love with it. If you are a fan of either Longfellow, this combination will open a whole new world."

Patricia Fripp, Past President, National Speakers Association,
author, Speaking Secrets of the Masters

"Listening to your CD, I am amazed by the range of Longfellow poetry. I am moved by this work; it is a genuine treasure."

Eleanor Millard, author, River Child,
former Minister of Education, Yukon Territory

"Longfellow read by Longfellow with the passion and delicacy that comes through the genes. It doesn't get better than this."

Rosita Perez, CPAE, Cavett Award Winner, National Speakers Association

"Powerful, rich, heart-opening—that was my response on the first hearing. My appreciation deepens with each listening. Longfellow's classics come alive again on this beautiful, wonderfully accessible CD."

Sudha Carolyn Lundeen, author, teacher, Kripalu Gentle Yoga

"I love this elegance—recorded at the Longfellow Houses; lavished with art from the period; timeless music; cover art from Longfellow heirlooms; read by the poet's cousin; enhanced by sensitive rewording for listening versus reading. How good can it get?"

Jim Cathcart, Past President, National Speakers Association,
Golden Gavel Winner

"A sense of absolute balance in which reader, poet and composer complement each other to perfection. Chills arise in the listener, as when the spirit receives wonderful news."

Matuschka, artist, Rachel Carson Award recipient

"Longfellow Reads Longfellow is a glorious blend of feeling, meaning and sound. A great poet, a great interpreter, just a great idea. Now I have to carefully pick those I want to send it to, as a pathway to some deliciously serious conversation."

Jack Linkletter, business executive, TV host


Some Letters We've Received:

"You have rekindled our old love of Longfellow poetry!"

President, Historical Society of Old Abbington

"I am a Japanese scholar in American literature and culture. The Standard Edition was such a spellbinder that I placed an extra order for the Illustrated Edition. This expanded version turned out to be enlightening as well, because your additional notes helped me learn more about the poet and his works."

Yoji Sawairi, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

"Longfellow Reads Longfellow is a mesmerizing work, unlike anything I've ever heard or seen. Congratulations on creating a superb work of art."

Jon Elliott, consultant and writer, retired naval officer

"I lay there, becoming more and more enthralled, listening and really living the experience presented to me. I grew beyond your voice to the poet and became curious to know more about his life and work."

Gail Saul, computer programmer

"I had planned to begin writing holiday greetings this evening, but instead I have sat and soaked in the words, the thoughts, and the universe of feelings contained in this extraordinary CD. What a treasure it is!"

Marc Fredette, Harvard Divinity School

"These readings are like fine jewelry—the stones cut by the poet Henry Longfellow, then finely polished by Layne, and finally placed in an exquisite setting by the music of Michael Hoppe."

John Leslie, Personal Coach

Hello Layne — I'm on tour—Western Kentucky to Maine, then back to North Carolina. Today in the car I listened for the fourth or fifth time through your CD.
It is stunning.
Quite apart from the beauty of Michael Hoppe's work and how well it serves the poetry, apart from your plangent reading voice and from your ability to read poetry so that the rhymes do not dominate unduly—
I must congratulate you on your reworking of the poems themselves. You have made it possible to read them aloud.
I believe it was Wordsworth who said that it was his dearest wish to create an anonymous ballad, i.e. a folksong—a poem so natural that the folk would take it into their mouths and pass it down. Those "folk," the people who render songs "anonymous," would have changed his ballad, made it their "own," by rearranging, changing, removing and adding words, by putting the stamp of their local manner of speaking upon it.
I think that is what you have done with Longfellow's somewhat laboured poetry, and you've done a beautiful job. It seems a cooperative venture between you and him, a bridge across time.
His poems often seemed to me rather wooden and sometimes pretentious. You've brought them alive by making them yours. People do that to my songs all the time; it's a kind of odd compliment.
Once again—the album is poignant and hits deep. Good that you read several of the poems without music, as a change for the ear. If the old L-fella's up there listening, who knows? He might be crying too, as he drives through the snowy wilds of Pennsylvania listening to sad happy voices from the past present set to real computer music.
As Garrison Keiller says, keep in touch. Peggy Seeger

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