Written by cycleguy on December 16th, 2019

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is considered by many to be America’s greatest poet.  He is quoted as once saying, “Believe me, every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.”  He was writing from experience.   A Hallmark movie his life was not!

He was married in 1831 and by 1834 had a wonderful wife, a dynamic reputation, and a house overlooking the Charles River.  He seemed to have it all, yet within a year of moving to that home in Massachusetts, his wife became ill and died.

It took him seven years before he recovered enough to marry again. With a new love, the good life returned to him. The Longfellows welcomed five children into their home. It was during this time that he wrote some of his greatest works- The Song of Hiawatha and The Courtship of Miles Standish, to name two. In 1861, at the height of his greatness, tragedy struck again. While lighting a match, his wife’s dress caught fire and she burned to death. Then before he could hit his stride, his faith was challenged by the American Civil War.

He hated the Civil War-it tore at his heart to see the land he loved, the United States, to be so fractured. Longfellow was an ardent believer in the power of God to move on earth, and he pleaded with God to end the madness. When his oldest son was injured during the war, while tending to his wounds and seeing others around him doing the same, his prayers turned to rage. He asked his friends, and his God, where is the peace? He took pen to paper and penned the refrain from the song we often hear at Christmas: “I heard the bells on Christmas day/Their old familiar carols play/And wild and sweet the words repeat/Of peace on earth good will to men…And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth I said/For hate is strong and mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

I suspect if we are honest we have all asked the same question about peace and have stated it (perhaps without as much clarity). The angel’s announcement to the shepherds that night was “peace on earth among men on whom God is pleased.”  May we all come to know the peace He promises us.


6 Comments so far ↓

  1. Lisa notes says:

    I think everyone seeks peace at their deepest level, even if it means they create war to try to get in. God knew what we needed. I’m thankful as his children that we can have peace, even when we’re not aware it is our gift for the taking.

  2. Betty Jo says:

    I have to admit, I did not know these things about Longfellow. Thank you, Bill, for sharing. The Song of Hiawatha has been a favorite since I was ten.

    Yes, I’m definitely a peace seeker too, and try to live and speak peace daily. I’d love to see world peace.

    I’m not sure if I’ve visited your blog before. I’ve not blogged in years, due to health reasons, but thought I’d give it another go. I read your comments often at Floyd’s blog, so thought I’d drop by for a visit. Blessings!!

  3. What an inspiring story! I’m checking in through my phone as our Chrome book doesn’t want to hook up here at the cabin. I might we’ll be absent the rest of the week. Blessings to you!

  4. Ed says:

    And peace throughout the world is so needed in this hour! My prayer is that if the world cannot obtain peace that we, as God’s children, can stay in it as the hour of our Father’s return approaches!

  5. floyd says:

    It’s never in our timing. All we can do is strive for peace. “Blessed are the peace keepers…”

    I didn’t know the history of his life. Very interesting. Out of such pain and anguish God used his words to help do what it is his heart desired.

    It’s never in our timing…