Longfellow’s The Arrow and the Song

The Arrow and the Song
BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

The twelve-line poem “The Arrow and the Song was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “The Arrow and the Song “was written on October 16th, 1845, in the middle of his career as a poet. It was written in the edition of The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems 1845 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was written for a church service that Longfellow was going to lead. The poem was used for the eulogy.

In “The Arrow and the Song” poem, the last lines, “And the song, from beginning to end/I found again in the heart of a friend.” are being compared to friendship. It marks the beginning and end of a friendship. It is describing how friendship came to be fast and swift, but it is quickly found in the people closest to them. It can also be seen how words can be quick and hard but also quiet and soft.

The beginning of the poem is describing how friends or family can quickly disappear or go, as quick as an arrow. In the body, it’s describing a song is the same way, but it can be followed, unlike a person. This poem can be compared to a loss of a family member or failure of a friendship with a friend but finding a new relationship through that journey. Words can be harsh and quick, like an arrow and it can pierce into any heart. Words can also be quiet and soft like a song on the wind, soothing anyone who hears it.

“The Arrow and the Song” is a product from the loss of his first wife even though she had died years before. It still pained him to think about her and how quickly he lost her, but he also gains a friendship with his future second wife.

~Trisha Poitras

Bibliography and Further Reading:
Matt. Shadow of Iris. 2005. Web. 5 September 2018.
https://www.shadowofiris.com/the-arrow-and-the-song-by-henry-w-longfellow
Society, Maine Historical. A Maine Historical Society Website. 5 September 2018. Web.

 

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