creating possibly perishable objects for a ready market


The bicentenary of the birth of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the most revered and reviled of all American poets, falls in 2007. Perhaps the most that can be hoped is that his third century will be kinder to his reputation than his second. Longfellow was the most famous American writer of his age, and the most widely admired, but even before his death in 1882 he was mercilessly parodied and pilloried. Edgar Allan Poe dismissed Longfellow’s work as fit only for “negrophilic old ladies of the north” and repeatedly accused him of plagiarism. Margaret Fuller likened his derivative poetry to “a tastefully arranged Museum” in which there were “flowers of all climes, and wild flowers of none”. Literary nationalists like Emerson and Whitman, while less hostile to the genial Longfellow, thought there was something un-American in his catholic tastes in literature and wine.

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