Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"We judge ourselves by what we feel
capable of doing, while others judge us
by what we have already done."
The most popular American poet of the 19th century started out as a student of literature and languages. After many years travelling in Europe, Longfellow could read and write French, Spanish, Italian, Finnish, Swedish, German, Danish and Dutch, as well as Latin, and taught modern languages for 20 years at Harvard.
He retired when his poetry and tales became popular enough to support him. Works such as ėThe Psalm of Life,î ėThe Wreck of the Hesperus,î and his epic poem ėThe Song of Hiawathaî were enormous hits in America and abroad.
Longfellow was the first professional American poet, and a literary superstar of his time. His phrases ėships that pass in the nightî and ėthe patter of little feetî became firmly established in common parlance. In later works such as ėThe Courtship of Miles Standishî and ėPaul Revereís Ride,î he created an American mythology that is still alive today.