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Poems on Slavery

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Book Overview: 

This is a short volume of abolitionist poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, first published in 1842. As Wikipedia notes, Longfellow himself was not entirely satisfied with his work: "However, as Longfellow himself wrote, the poems were 'so mild that even a Slaveholder might read them without losing his appetite for breakfast'. A critic for The Dial agreed, calling it 'the thinnest of all Mr. Longfellow's thin books; spirited and polished like its forerunners; but the topic would warrant a deeper tone'. The New England Anti-Slavery Association, however, was satisfied enough with the collection to reprint it for further distribution." Despite these shortcomings, however, this volume is of historical importance and will interest many listeners.

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Book Excerpt: 
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Community Reviews

I know hardly a thing about 19th c poets, let alone Longfellow, but apparently HWL was the most popular poet of his day. For him to publish these in 1842 may not have been much, but it wasn't nothing, and indeed the New England Anti-Slavery Association was happy enough with this collection to reprin

I have to say, this is the weakest of the ones I've read so far. It's topic and, if I may say, it's attempt to discuss said subject is fine. But really, the attempt was not a success. It's poems, while perhaps convincing enough to the abolitionists of the mid-19th century; really doesn't perform wel

3 stars

(Found "The Witnesses" poem most moving)

Magnificent group of poems. Does in 30 pages what it took Harriet Beecher Stowe to do in 500.

This collection, published in 1842, vividly describes the predicament of slavery. It makes a case of natural philosophy of why slavery is immoral. Works like Longfellow's began to sway the northern U.S. towards the the emancipation of slaves and the abolition of slavery (through the bloody carnage o


Only eight poems in this collection.
Powerfully sensitive. I am loving Longfellow!