Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans - Edward Eggleston
Longfellow and the Bird
Long-fel-low was a noble boy. He always wanted to do right. He could not bear to see one person do any wrong to another.
He was very tender-hearted. One day he took a gun and went shooting. He killed a robin. Then he felt sorry for the robin He came home with tears in his eyes. He was so grieved, that he never went shooting again.
He liked to read Irving's "Sketch Book." Its strange stories about Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle pleased his fancy.
When he was thirteen he wrote a poem. It was about Lovewell's fight with the Indians. He sent his verses to a newspaper. He wondered if the editor would print them. He could not think of anything else. He walked up and down in front of the printing office. He thought that his poem might be in the printer's hands.
When the paper came out, there was his poem. It was signed "Henry." Longfellow read it. He thought it a good poem.
But a judge who did not know whose poem it was talked about it that evening. He said to young Longfellow, "Did you see that poem in the paper? It was stiff. And all taken from other poets, too."
This made Henry Longfellow feel bad. But he kept on trying. After many years, he became a famous poet.
For more than fifty years, young people have liked to read his poem called "A Psalm of Life." Here are three stanzas of it:—
"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time,—
"Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, may take heart again.
"Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait."