Thursday, April 05, 2012

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Every summer for several years when I was little, my siblings and I, and mother would take a vacation to spend a week at my Greatgranny's in Jay, Oklahoma.  The most wonderful time of my life.  I digress though...

In the "town" of Jay there were a couple of junk stores, not antique, because back then there were not antique stores in the country, only junk stores.  We loved to go in them and find treasures.  We would save our money from chores and spend it in those dusty and mildewy junk stores buying dishes, toys and books.  One of my finds was this 4x6 little poetry book called "Longfellow's Poems".  It was only 25 cents and for me it was the best treasure find I could have ever had.
It has a copyright of 1902, so this precious little book is 110 years old now and I LOVE IT!  It also fed my love for poetry.  
 I read this little book often and one of my favorite ones, although very sad was

The Slave's Dream
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Beside the ungathered rice he lay,
   His sickle in his hand;
His breast was bare, his matted hair
   Was buried in the sand.
Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,
   He saw his Native Land.

Wide through the landscape of his dreams
   The lordly Niger flowed;
Beneath the palm-trees on the plain
   Once more a king he strode;
And heard the tinkling caravans
   Descend the mountain-road.

He saw once more his dark-eyed queen
   Among her children stand;
They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks,
   They held him by the hand!--
A tear burst from the sleeper's lids
   And fell into the sand.

And then at furious speed he rode
   Along the Niger's bank;
His bridle-reins were golden chains,
   And, with a martial clank,
At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel
   Smiting his stallion's flank.

Before him, like a blood-red flag,
   The bright flamingoes flew;
From morn till night he followed their flight,
   O'er plains where the tamarind grew,
Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts,
   And the ocean rose to view.

At night he heard the lion roar,
   And the hyena scream,
And the river-horse, as he crushed the reeds
   Beside some hidden stream;
And it passed, like a glorious roll of drums,
   Through the triumph of his dream.

The forests, with their myriad tongues,
   Shouted of liberty;
And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud,
   With a voice so wild and free,
That he started in his sleep and smiled
   At their tempestuous glee.

He did not feel the driver's whip,
   Nor the burning heat of day;
For Death had illumined the Land of Sleep,
   And his lifeless body lay
A worn-out fetter, that the soul
   Had broken and thrown away!

Such a sad poem for me to read as a child but I thought it was beautiful. 

My love for poetry started at a very young age.  Mother read to us all the time, all kinds of books but I discovered poetry on my own.

I've written about these books before but will share again.  We had the entire set of these, The Children's Hour, sort of like an encyclopedia of literature. 
Mother would read to us from these and when we were old enough, we read to ourselves.  There are a few pages with crayola markings but they were much loved.  I still have these and cherish them, and am looking forward to sharing and reading to our first grandchild soon.
My favorite one was Best Loved Poems.  I read that one front to back and adored the art.   
I even have a second copy of Book #5 just in case I want to frame some of the pictures in it but I'm not sure I can tear out pages.   
Not only did I find my love for poetry here I found my love for art.  I would draw these pictures all the time and still have my attempts stashed away in my trunk.
How can you not just love this book with art and poetry like this. 


Sweet Tea said...

Grat post FULL of nostalgia. love it.
I would love to have a book or toy from my childhood, but have none. I do have detailed scrapbooks of my childhood and theybare my treasures.

Beryl said...

I recognized the Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod picture right away. I had A Child's Garden of Verses and still think of the Swing poem every time I pass a playground. Nice post!