During the Romantic literary period where the individual and pursuit of happiness was at its highest point. Poetry was at the heart of this wave of literary expansion. Poetry was today’s television, and families would sit around a fire and read this poetry, and these poets became known as fireside poets.
Poems such as” Old Ironsides” by Oliver Windell Holmes, “The First Snowfall” by James Russell Lowell and “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls” by Henry Wallworth Longfellow had a lasting effect on the reader. “The First Snowfall” written by James Russell Lowell, “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls” Written by Henry Wallworth Longfellow and “Old Ironsides” written by Oliver Windell Holmes all demonstrate death in a particular way and will be analyzed to understand the writers’ views on death. The first poem that will be analyzed is “Old Ironsides” written by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Holmes Interprets death as heroic, honorable thing which is implied when Holmes asserts “Her thunders shook the mighty deep/and there should be her grave;” and now the ship will die and honorable death (Holmes 19/20). Dying an honorable death according to Holmes would be a good death.
Holmes also mourns the death of the ship saying “No more shall feel the victor’s tread, Or know the conquered knee;–” (Holmes 13/14). He mourns the death because the ship was once a great battleship and will no longer engage in battle. Another way Holmes sees death is the ending of a great life. The ship’s deck was “Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood/Where knelt the vanquished foe,/When winds were hurrying o’er the flood /And waves were white below, /No more shall feel the victor’s tread, or the conquered knee;–” (Holmes 9-14). The ship was once home to great heroes’ and their deaths.
In conclusion Holmes employs death as honorable, mournful and the ending of great life. The second poem that will be analyzed is “The First Snowfall” by James Russell Lowell. Lowell views death as a peaceful, quiet part of life. The sister of the speaker died and “And again the the child I whispered/the snow that husheth all,/Darling, the merciful father/Alone can make it fall” is covering her tombstone (Lowell 33-36). Snow is peaceful and the snow covers her after her peaceful death.
Another way death is interpreted is how the snow is healing. The snow has a “With a silence deep and white” meaning it’s beautiful and soothing (Lowell 4). The snow symbolized the daughters’ peaceful death. Lowell also presents death in a religious manner. When the daughter asks “Father, who makes it snow?” the father replied telling “of the good All-father who cares for us here below” referring to God (Lowell 22/23).
With the view of death through a religious stand point, Lowell allows for a much more meaningful death. Lowell presented death in a peaceful, healing and religious way. The last poem that will be analyzed is “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow reveals how death is a cycle of life. He repeatedly asserts “The tide rises, he tide falls” (Longfellow 5/10/15). Which is a reference to how life is just a never ending cycle just like how the tide will always come and go on the shore.
Longfellow also states how life goes on after death. While the “the steeds in their stalls stamp and neigh” (Longfellow 11/12). Longfellow says this to demonstrate even though somebody dies everybody else lives on. Longfellow also states how death is nothing to fear and is just another part of life. With death being a part of life a nothing can change it it’s easy if a “day returns, but nevermore returns the traveler the shore,” meaning it’s just a part of life and to live life to the fullest (Longfellow 13/14).
Longfellow shows that death is a cycle, life still goes on after death and that there’s nothing to fear in death. In conclusion, Longfellow, Lowell and Holmes were all three fireside poets. Longfellow, Lowell and Holmes each describe death in a different light. Although they differ and how death should be seen they all agree on living life to the fullest of its potential and when death comes there is nothing left to accomplish and it’s peaceful. They all admit death as a part of life and that it’s inevitable as well.
The overall point of the poems was death and the after effects and each portrayed death in positive and spiritual manner.