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05 November 2009

Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Blog Blast for Peace 2009

peace globe 09

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an incredibly talented educator and poet who endured great personal tragedy.

Internationally educated from the age of three, Longfellow taught at Bowdoin and Harvard.  The first American to translate Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and other classics, he is probably is best remembered as one of the most beloved American poets.

From the elementary school required recitation “
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Listen my children
and you shall hear

to the the epic “Song of Hiawatha”

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,

many of the lyrical phrases of our literary culture were penned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

He lost two wives.  The first to miscarriage in 1835. The second in a tragic fire he blamed himself for.  In the twenty years he lived following her death in 1861, he never fully recovered, and suffered additional tragedies.

I make note of the dates as in 1864, Longfellow hit the low point in his life. Our country, the United States, was in the depth of a horrendous Civil War. Nowadays, we say Civil War and think of cotton and Tara and reflection of the first step in our nation’s history to end slavery. Sometimes we overlook 620,000 Americans died during the Civil War.

It was on Christmas in 1864 Longfellow heard the bells on Christmas morning and thought of his wife, and agonized over the injuries his son had suffered fighting. In his darkest despair he questioned if there was any Peace on Earth, indeed if there ever would be again.

In that moment, as he wrote the poem which would become a beautiful Christmas carol, he knew in all certainty that the good in mankind would indeed prevail. That the hate which seemed so powerful would fail…and that there would be Peace on Earth.

Casting Crowns has a version of this song I am pretty fond of.  I could only find a “live” clip on youtube. It’s pretty cool to hear all the children singing “Peace on Earth” throughout the song.

Christmas Bells
the poem by HW Longfellow:

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!

And 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!

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!

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!

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."

Biography (dot com)
National Center for Public Policy and Research
The Other Pages (dot org)

As previously mentioned, today is the annual Blog Blast for Peace thanks to Mimi.  Please visit here to catch the thousands of Peace offerings from literally all over the Globe.


Desert Songbird said...

Peace to you my friend. May you and your loved ones be bathed in peace, today and every day.

The Ice Box – Dona Nobis Pacem

Sandee said...

Excellent Katherine, excellent.

Have a terrific day. Big hugs to you and The Teamster. :)

Marilyn said...

A very wonderful post. I didn't know half of that.

Peace be with you.

Travis Cody said...

Lovely. And now all the Bees are accounted for.

Peace to you and yours my dear, today and always.

I, Like The View said...


and love


Anndi said...

In the depths of despair, when we question can it be...

We stop and listen, and we hear; we stop and look, and we see...

Peace Globes, smiles, words of hope, words of love...

Faith is renewed,
and Peace is carried on the wings of the dove.

Schmoop said...

Here's to the peaceful pealing of bells everywhere. Cheers Kat!!

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

Excellent post Katherine.

The last stanza is so clear in its message as we celebrate this special day.

Thank you.

j said...

How perfect to use not only Longfellow's work, but his story in a post about Peace. He did indeed suffer and to be granted the peace to write that poem? Inspirational.

I hope you have a nice weekend.


Spadoman said...

Peace to all.

Sanni said...

Very well written, Katherine.

May peace be with you and your loved one every day...

Mel said...

k....was that suppose to make me tearful?

(((((((( katherine ))))))))

Thank you.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

'And wild and sweet
The words repeat'

The intensity of the desire for peace, the strange irony of having to fight for peace, is definitely laced throughout these lyrics.

Really enjoyed your post on Longfellow.

Peace to you, Katherine.

Mimi Lenox said...

What an outstanding historical post with the special Katherine personal touch added. I did not know much of this history of the carol. What an inspiring story.
I love the way you weaved the song and the Civil War and music and poetry all together into one fantastic post.

You are #1532 in the Official Peace Globe Gallery.

Peace on Earth.

From now on when we sing this song at Christmas, I will think of The Bees.

Cinnamon Girl said...

This was truly lovely, Kat. Thank you for sharing =)

Dawn Drover said...

Absolutely beautiful!
Peace to you and yours!

I, Like The View said...

pop over to mine, will ya?

if you don't make it, I'll come back over and post the link


Anonymous said...