Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

craig cornish's Blog

About craig cornish
(Show Details...)
Bloggers Photo
Life is an infinite continuum, feeding on its own death. Our mortality, real and imagined, lives within. We can always see these truths with a discerning eye. The mirrored images that seem like two, are but one, a parallel universe whose paths cross like a wisp of wind, we are all of one time, like prose and poems written in separate centuries, but of the same struggle. There, always there, truth never hides, except for those who don’t seek it  for fear of what they might find. From light to dark we fly in different directions though toward the same destination. What matters is what we do on our flight. Do we see the paths of leaves as they float on the pond, the reflection of the sky beyond, and the trees, who have now shed their leaves but will reflect full in the spring; beneath the leaves, the roots of the lily pads  and the stare of a wary carp who looks from his world as we do from ours? We must find time on our journey to read, play a game, or simply sit and wonder at the marvels around us, for death will come in its own time…

Longfellow plus more


Blog Posted:12/11/2013 1:29:00 PM

  I didn't write this but it is good to be reminded that faith in the time of trouble can lift us.


— Many musicians and writers of poetry will admit that some of their finest work comes when they have experienced a death or a tragedy of some kind, that the writing of poetry has an almost cathartic effect on the writer.

Such is the case of one of the best known and most beloved  carols associated with Christmas, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which came from the pen of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  (1807-1882) and was written on Christmas Day, 1864.

His had been a tortured life in last few years before that day. On July 11, 1861, his wife Fanny had clipped some long curls from the head of her seven-year-old daughter, Edith, and wanting to save them in an envelope, melted a bar of sealing wax with a candle to seal the envelope. 

Fanny Longfellow and two of her sons

Somehow the thin fabric of her clothing caught fire, and she quickly ran to Longfellow’s nearby study for help.  He immediately tried to extinguish the flames with a small rug, and when that failed, he threw his arms around Fanny to smother the flames, causing him to sustain serious burns on his face, arms, and hands. His heroic act did not suffice, and Fanny died the next morning of her injuries. Longfellow was unable to even attend the funeral.

Photographs of Longfellow taken or made after the fire usually show him with a full beard, since he was no longer able to shave properly due to the burns and scarring.

The coming of the holiday season in the Longfellow house became a time of grieving for his wife while trying to provide a happy time for the children left at home. It was during Christmas 1862 that he wrote in his journal, “A ‘merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” 

He had also suffered another disappointment when his oldest son, Charles Appleton “Charley” Longfellow, quietly left their Cambridge, Mass. home, and enlisted in the Union Army much against the wishes of his father. 

In mid-March, Longfellow had received word from Charles, saying, “I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave, but I cannot any longer.”  The determined young man continued, “I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good.”

He was 17 years old and went to Capt. W. H. McCartney, who was in charge of Battery A of the 1st Mass. Artillery, asking to be allowed to enlist. McCartney knew the boy and knew he did not have his father’s permission, so he contacted the senior Longfellow to see if he could obtain it on his behalf.  Longfellow conceded and acceded to the request.

Charles Longfellow

It was only a few months later that Charley came down with typhoid fever and malaria and was sent home to recover, not rejoining his unit until August 15, 1863.

Following the Gettysburg battle, which Charley had fortunately missed, the conflict made its way into Virginia, and it was at the Battle of New Hope Church, in Orange, VA., part of the Mine Run Campaign, that the young Lt. Longfellow sustained injuries, which seriously disabled him. He was hit in the shoulder and the ricocheting bullet took out some portions of several vertebrae. It was reported that he missed being paralyzed by less than one inch.  Longfellow traveled to where his injured son was hospitalized and brought him home to Cambridge to recover.

The war for Charley was over.

And so at Christmas of 1864, a reflective and sad poet sat down and began to write the beautiful words that we sing each Christmas:

 I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

I thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along the unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

And in despair I bowed my head:

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

“For hate is strong and mocks the song

 Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Till, ringing, singing, on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Remembering that this was written during the Civil War, even though not published until 1872, we see the concerns of the War were much on Longfellow’s mind and heart. Thus there were two other verses that appeared in the original as verses four and five and are not song today, since they emphasize his feelings surrounding the War:

Then from each black accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound,

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn,

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Longfellow’s heartfelt words of loss and hope were published and well received. John Baptiste Calkin (1827-1905), an English composer, was similarly affected by the poem, and it was he who penned the music that we know and sing today, slightly rearranging the verses or stanzas as he did.

While he was an organist and a music teacher, Calkin probably is best known as the composer of the music for Longfellow’s poem.


Actually the more contemporary arrangement of the song was done in 1956 by a man named Johnny Marks whose version was sung by many including Bing & Sinatra.  In 1958 that same Johnny marks wrote Run Rudolph Run performed by Chuck Berry, Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, and a couple years later Rockin Around the Christmas Tree sung by Brenda Lee--Among others, he also wrote A Holly Jolly Christmas which most remember Burl Ives singing--pretty amazing!




Please Login
 
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 11:14:00 PM
    i needed this break after reading a few blogs that made me watch some scenes from the zoo.. thanks, craig... longfellow is my kinda guy!... huggs

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 9:28:00 PM
    Kathryn, treat yourself to a weekend and go to his home just outside of Boston where this all happened. One of the first poems I ever committed to heart was the first verse of Paul Revere's Ride.

    Login to Reply
    cornish Avatar craig cornish Date: 12/11/2013 9:50:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    and I still know it!
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 9:13:00 PM
    How fortunate I came to soup blog today. I believe Longfellow is my favorite poet. I did not know the story behind his beard only that in pictures before his second wife's death he was clean shaven. Lines from the Children' Hour come to me every now and again. I read it to my mother when she was sick before her death. It was a lifelong favorite of hers. I may know that and Psalm of Life by heart.

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 4:42:00 PM
    I went to his childhood home in Portland last Christmas season---really awesome. We were told it is was one of the only historical homes in the US with all the original furniture primarily because no one else has ever lived there and it was donated by a member of the Longfellow family with the stipulation that it would stay as it was. Very many homes we see have period furniture but not the original furniture. BTW Most of his poems were written in his Massachusetts home and that is where this incident takes place.

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 4:25:00 PM
    sooooooo interesting! THANK YOU!!

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 4:23:00 PM
    One of my favourite songs..Thanks for sharing the story behind it.. I love 'war is over' ,as well as this beauty Always wishing an impossible wish..that the wars in the world end.. lovely blog..Wish you can post more of these.

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 3:09:00 PM
    Good thing to blog about before Xmas and I love that song!!

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 2:43:00 PM
    What a sad, yet heartfelt story of a courageous survival through difficult times. It puts so much more meaning to the words of a Christmas carol, which we might otherwise, take for granted. Thanks for sharing this amazing story.

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 2:34:00 PM
    A very interesting read, Craig. I enjoyed it...

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 12/11/2013 2:20:00 PM
    Craig, thank you for sharing this. It is beautiful indeed to know the background of this carol. I've always gleaned comfort from the thought that some of the best work in the fields of art, music, and literature come from those who have suffered the most, be it a tragic event or a mental illness. There is beauty in brokenness. It comforts me because I battle depression. Some days....I just want to crawl up in bed and shut the world out and just....BE. Other times, I can be the life of the party. It's a difficult existence, but I know that even from my broken state, beauty can come- a very comforting thought, indeed. Thanks for sharing. It has touched my heart.

    Login to Reply

My Past Blog Posts

 
Chopped III
Date Posted: 11/16/2014 11:41:00 AM
Mama's Letter We Need Smiles
Date Posted: 11/12/2014 7:20:00 AM
In Honor of a Lost Poet
Date Posted: 11/9/2014 7:40:00 AM
Chopped I
Date Posted: 11/1/2014 12:31:00 PM
Kevin Kern Responded (Lyrics)
Date Posted: 10/31/2014 9:45:00 AM
For Whom Do We Write
Date Posted: 10/23/2014 4:27:00 PM
A Heads Up
Date Posted: 10/18/2014 1:48:00 PM
Lyrics Contest Judged
Date Posted: 9/27/2014 4:25:00 PM
You Were There
Date Posted: 9/21/2014 12:54:00 PM
Lyric Contest Judged
Date Posted: 9/1/2014 12:48:00 PM
Something Special
Date Posted: 8/27/2014 9:05:00 PM
Special Stuff
Date Posted: 8/18/2014 4:18:00 PM
Lauren Bacall
Date Posted: 8/12/2014 8:10:00 PM
Inspired By Our Rose
Date Posted: 8/10/2014 9:07:00 AM
Contest Edits
Date Posted: 7/13/2014 2:30:00 PM
Goethe Stanza Contest Judged
Date Posted: 7/11/2014 10:41:00 AM
Our Cover Girl !!
Date Posted: 7/7/2014 4:53:00 PM
A Rainy 4th in New England--some fun
Date Posted: 7/4/2014 12:30:00 PM
Thanks Coach Cyndi
Date Posted: 6/28/2014 5:25:00 PM
Debussy Contest Judged
Date Posted: 6/17/2014 2:17:00 PM
New Contest and Update
Date Posted: 6/15/2014 9:53:00 AM
Some of the "Modern" sonnets
Date Posted: 6/6/2014 10:05:00 AM
Contest Inspiration Debussy
Date Posted: 5/24/2014 8:41:00 AM
Memorial Day
Date Posted: 5/23/2014 5:55:00 PM
Get Creative Contest Judged
Date Posted: 5/22/2014 12:30:00 PM

My Recent Poems

Date PostedPoemTitleFormCategories
11/24/2014 The Debutante's Ball Rhymedance,
11/22/2014 Write of Love Free verselove,war,
11/19/2014 Applause in the Wind Crystallineseasons,
11/15/2014 November Wind Crystallinenature,november,
11/10/2014 A Conspicuous Collage Rhymedeath of a friend,
11/10/2014 Your Smile Free versedeath of a friend,
11/7/2014 a lonely row Verselonely,love,
11/6/2014 Holidays Cinqkuholiday,sad,
11/4/2014 Forever Young Sonnetdaughter,grief,
11/3/2014 Almost Gone Rhymelife,
11/3/2014 Pursuing Christus Free versespiritual,
11/2/2014 In The End Blank versefaith,love,
10/30/2014 Leftover Heaven Epulaeryufood,
10/28/2014 Found and Lost Free verselife,
10/27/2014 On Niagra's Bridal Veil Falls Versenature,
10/19/2014 One Less Hill Free versememory,
10/16/2014 Her Laughter Verselife,love,
10/15/2014 Pie Eyed Rhymefunny,
10/12/2014 The Stage Blank verselife,
10/11/2014 Light Years Versespace,
10/6/2014 Hostage Rispettodepression,war,
10/6/2014 November Dreams Sijoautumn,
10/1/2014 Lights of Night Free verselife,
9/30/2014 Pickett's Charge Blank versewar,
9/26/2014 Eden Sonnetlife,
9/25/2014 Keepers of the Flame Verselife,
9/21/2014 You Were There Rhymedeath,love,
9/19/2014 The Light Keeper Verselife,
9/19/2014 southward, wing on wing Haikuimagination,seasons,
9/14/2014 Poetry Is Born Free versemother,
9/7/2014 On the Cusp of Winter Free verseautumn,
9/7/2014 The Old Man Rhymelife,nature,
9/5/2014 I'll Leave You My Tears Rhymelove,lyric,song,
9/5/2014 Peal the Bells Blank versetime,
9/2/2014 The Looking Glass Rhymeintrospection,
8/31/2014 How Could I Know Trioletfunny,
8/31/2014 Autumn Alouette Verseautumn,
8/26/2014 A Note To My Sis Free verselife,
8/21/2014 Morning's Veil Ottava rimamorning,nature,
8/19/2014 Foodles Footlefunny,
8/18/2014 The Lady Rhymefantasy,love,
8/16/2014 No Matter Where I Roam Rhymetravel,
8/13/2014 a tropical morn Haikunature,
8/9/2014 Perfectly Imperfect Poems Free verselife,
8/9/2014 The Muted Rose Iambic Pentameterinspirational,
8/8/2014 Until I Hold You Near Rhymewar,
8/6/2014 Night Owl Rhymenature,
8/4/2014 The Final Call Versedeath,
8/4/2014 Alauda Versenature,
8/4/2014 A Conch Shell Calls Quatrainintrospection,
8/3/2014 Lyrics to Peter White's Life Story Rhymesong,
7/31/2014 Never Really Gone Rhymelove,
7/31/2014 new moon Haikusummer,
7/28/2014 in the summer clouds Haikulife,rain,
7/27/2014 The Virtuoso Verseimagination,sensual,
7/26/2014 Peace and Freedom Verseinspiration,
7/19/2014 Paradise Lost Sonnetlove,war,
7/18/2014 it isn't there Senryuintrospection,
7/16/2014 The Scent of Water Sonnetlove,
7/14/2014 The Doorway Verselife,
7/8/2014 Her Dreams Were Mine Verselove,
7/4/2014 Inhaling The Sea Acrosticloss,
7/3/2014 Dorian Grey Abridged Quatrainfantasy,
6/30/2014 Born A Smile Sonnetlife,
6/26/2014 Life's Path Verselife,
6/19/2014 A Quickie Rhymefun,
6/18/2014 Morning Breaks Acrosticlife,
6/14/2014 At Rest Rhymelife,
6/12/2014 That's It Rhymefunny,
6/9/2014 My Soul Companion Free versedeath,
6/8/2014 Destiny Haikulove,
6/5/2014 Summer Love Sijolove,
6/5/2014 Garden Party Sonnetgarden,
5/31/2014 Tears on the Wind Rhymelife,
5/30/2014 Golden Pond Verselife,
5/29/2014 Distant Thoughts Sonnetlife,
5/28/2014 Kimo A Kimoholiday,
5/28/2014 TIME Versetime,
5/26/2014 Sparky Limerickfunny,
5/21/2014 Gravity Haikunature,
5/20/2014 Burning Bridges Verselove,trust,
5/19/2014 Bozo the Clown Clerihewfunny,
5/14/2014 Where Free verselife,
5/7/2014 Holiday Party Haiku Haikuholiday,
5/5/2014 Spring Quatern Quaternseasons,
5/1/2014 I Captured Today Pantoumlife,
5/1/2014 Hidden Temple Sijofaith,
4/30/2014 Haiku J Haikunature,
4/28/2014 Suspicion Always Haunts the Guilty Mind Free versetruth,
4/28/2014 A Daydream Sonnetlove,
4/24/2014 Shelter Tankalife,
4/19/2014 Too Soon Coupletlost love,
4/17/2014 Never Hopeless Kyriellefaith,hope,
4/15/2014 This Blood Moon Free verselife,
4/15/2014 Before Today Verseinspirational,
4/13/2014 Cowboys Quatraincowboy,
4/10/2014 A Spring Day Quintain (English)nature,
4/9/2014 Antiques Coupletlife,
4/9/2014 Hidden Value Free verseinspirational,
4/4/2014 Sands of Time Shapetime,

My Photos


Fav Poems

PoemTitleFormCategories
Violin Personificationdeath,love,rose,
Evening Walk Free verseintrospection,life,nature
The Sowing Free versedevotion,
Why I Weep Italian Sonnetnatureme,
LONG DISTANT DREAM Rhymenature,
An Invitation to Dance Sonnetmusic,nature,
Secrets of the Stream Free verseintrospection,nature
Grandpa Coupletchildhood,loss,sadold,chi
Double Phantasy Free verseloss,mystery,sad,
Something of a Dreamer Free verselife,
Silver Strands Biolove,mother,me,silver,
Montage Poetry Lyrichappiness,history,uplifti
A Mutual passion Blank verseromance,longing,longing,l
Spring Returned Rondeauhappiness,love,people,sou
Her Name Is January Personificationimagination,nature,new ye
Wind Power Rhymenature,
Gold Star Narrativechildhood,war,war,star,bl
Circle of Life Rhymedeath,introspection,life,
New England Rhymenature,seasons,
If Ever Sonnetfaith,hope,inspirational,
In Strangler's Wood Rhymedeath,
Bewitched Villanellelove,passion
FIRST CHERUBIC CHANCE Lyricmystery,uplifting
Wait Raven,I am coming Free versedeath
THE HOURS Sonneton writing and words,time
EULOGY FOR THE ELDON GALLERY, WATERLOO Free verseart,life,places,sad,grand
OUTGROWN Free versedaughter,life,nostalgia,d
Conquering Rainbows Free versefantasy,for children,me,r
UNFORGOTTEN Versechildhood,hope,nostalgia,
THE MIDWIFE OF MYROLFE Free versefantasy,
The Missing Sonnetdeath,loss,
AT THE BUS DEPOT Verseallegory,
Immersion Free verseintrospection,life,me,
MY NYLON BIRD Dizainhappiness,education,
The Jaded Eye Sonnetdeath,love,heart,heart,
Amongst the Dross Sonnetdepression,introspection,
Closer Free versehope,life,love,peace,blue
MY SEX Free verselife,nature,people,men,wr
God, Solstice Free versedeath,faith,religion,
Sunlit Ambrosia Free versedaughter,father,happiness
Tanglaw -- Light Free versededication,life,love,moth
One More Time Curtal Sonnetfamily,
Black Diamond Night Free verseintrospection,life,nature
Haste Quintain (Sicilian)faith,fear,introspection,
Cornflower Blue Free versehope,life,love,mystery,dr
Bastard Sun Personificationnature,parody,
Ballet is Poetry Free verseart,music,
EAST OF EDEN Sonnetfaith,nature,people,me,
SHADOWLANDS Free versedeath,faith,grief,history
SO Many Questions Quatrainromance,moon,
FLEETING VISUALS Free verseadventure,art,
LONELY Free verselife,lonely,me,people,swe
POETRY IS AN ECHO Rispettoon writing and words,me,
Poe and I Rispettolonely,lost love,
Spring's Sweet Reality Free versedream,nature,spring,dream
Kiss the Rain Quatraingirl,people,rain,romantic
A Sepia Recollection Free versefamily,grandfather,
The Old Wooden Bench Sonnetimagination,old,old,
Every now and then Lyriclove,miss you,
NIGHT STROLL Free verseinspiration,nature,
Cinder Girl Rhymelovelove,
THE OLD OAK TREE Free verseautumn,life,spring,summer
Grandpa's Study Free versefamily,life,loss,peace,
Love Poem - 29 Free verselife,love,passion,peace,w
Passing Trains in Winter Rain Rhymedepression,
A Tale of Fire and Ice Rhymedream,fire,love,lust,
The Angel Inside Rhymeallegory,angel,art,beauti
Back to Lost Rhymehistory,
SYLVIA Crown of Sonnetslife,poets,writing,
Her Requiem Rhymedeath,faith,mother,
O' Middle Child Free versei love you,love,son,
And Luke Williams Has Gone Celibate Free verselove,
WELCOMING A NEW TUNE Free versefarewell,how i feel,life,
Verses for Vivian Lyricdepression,
The Garden of Adonis Lyrics Rhymelyric,song,
The Pooka Sonnetanimal,horror,mythology,
The Swan Free versebeautiful,romantic,wife,
Una and the Lion Monorhymeanimal,girl,happiness,inn
Sleepless Night Dramatic Verse (Verse Drama)anger,death,farewell,memo
AS FATHER IS TO HIS DAUGHTER Free versefather,introspection,word
Midsummer dance on parchment paper Free verseabsence,allegory,
The Soup Reich Free versesatire,slam,
Into the Gloaming Sonnetpeace,
THE OTHER-WISE Free verseart,introspection,
-----night train------ -reverse poem- Rhymegoodbye,lost love,sad lov
Doorways to Yesterday Free versememory,
Mother and Child Narrativeangel,baby,beautiful,birt
Mending life Free verseanalogy,
You Caught The Wind Free versedeath of a friend,nostalg
Sheol Dramatic Verse (Verse Drama)abuse,dark,evil,fantasy,f
SAFEWORD Sonnetlove,lust,
Aftermath Free versebaby,loss,winter,
Waterloo Bridge Ekphrasis (Ecphrasis)art,beauty,
Facets Of Loneliness Free verseloneliness,
Love never fades Rhymelonging,love,
Recalling Her Free versegrandmother,memory,
The Good Ole Times Ghazal 
just like juliet Free verselove,
Christmas Magic Rhymeangel,child,christmas,god
Somber Days Free verseday,november,tree,

Fav Poets

No Fav Poets Selected