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Longfellow's The Courtship of Miles Standish

A historical and plot summary of Longfellow's poem about America's first love triangle.

nathan crenshaw

on 10 February 2010

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Transcript of Longfellow's The Courtship of Miles Standish

Photo of Longfellow Henry Wadsworth Longfellow b. 27 Feb 1807 @ Portland, Maine
d. 24 Mar 1882 @ Cambridge, Mass. Began college at age 15
Published about 40 poems as a student
Toured Europe
College professor at Harvard
Very skilled with languges and translation
Quit teaching in 1854 to write full-time

Education and Educator Prominent Friendships Nathaniel Hawthorne
Washington Irving
Ralph Waldo Emerson
George Stillman Hillard
Cornelius Conway Felton
Love Life m. Mary Potter in 1831 (at age 24)
d. four years later, after miscarriage
Longfellow grieved for years

m. Frances Appleton in 1843
Inspired his only love poem
Died in 1861
"[V]ictory hangs doubtful. The lady says she will not! I say she shall! It is not pride, but the madness of passion" "inwardly bleeding to death"

"The Cross of Snow" (1879) Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died. "One thought occupies me night and day... She is dead—She is dead! All day I am weary and sad"
Published 1858
Real historical figures
Longfellow claimed to be a descendent of John Alden
Claimed the story was real Myles Standish Lived about ten years in Plymouth
Military captain contracted by Pilgrims
Wife died shortly after arrival

The Courtship of Miles Standish
Full transcript