Thursday, March 24, 2011

Today in Language: Crosby and Longfellow

Fanny Crosby, known to many Christians as the writer of such songs as "Blessed Assurance" and "All the Way My Savior Leads Me," was born on March 24, 1820.

The New York Institute for Special Education reports that Crosby penned the following lines as part of her first poem (at least it is the first poem we are aware of, I suppose) at the age of eight:
Oh what a happy soul I am,
Although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, another American known to many as one of America's most-acclaimed poets (though many would regard his verse as trite), died on March 24, 1882. Decidedly more pessimistic, or perhaps some would say simply realistic or practical, than Crosby in his poetry, Longfellow nonetheless wrote the following in his poem "A Psalm of Life," more forward-looking than he tends to be:

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
    Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
    Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Crosby did, of course, have her share of heartache and personal problems, not the least of which was her oft-troubled marriage. And Wadsworth had his share of joy and success in life. But I can't helping looking at one's poetry as definitely joyful and the other's as decidedly melancholy. And I think this was largely shaped by their views of God and their mindset in regard to the situations and troubles that they found themselves in. How does your personality affect your use of language? Do you identify more with Crosby or Longfellow?

And by the way, on another, entirely coincidental, inconsequential note, the man who wrote the music for "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" was named Robert Wadsworth Lowry.

No comments:

Post a Comment