"Smiling said she to me, "Recollect thee now"
"That thou this very day hast drunk of Lethe . . .""
America's most popular poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-82) spent many of his working years producing translations of
European works. During the 19th century the Classic tradition was
still vibrantly alive, in the countries across the Atlantic -- and
through his verse translations Longfellow hoped he might help it
acquire similar importance among readers in the young republic of
the United States.
Many of these translations stand alongside Longfellow's most
famous original poems -- "The Psalm of Life," "The Children's Hour"
and "Hiawatha." Perhaps his most important were those based upon
Dante, which he began in 1843. This second volume, "The Purgatory"
-- with its visions of the Wanton, the Gluttonous, the Sodomites,
the Tree of Knowledge and the River Lethe -- is second in the
three-volume poem that begins with the "Inferno."
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