How does Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem "The Cross of Snow" and the "Psalm of Life" relate to the Romantic time period?

1 Answer

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

1. Both poems are didactic, meaning that they strive to teach the reader something. For the Romantics, it was important that their works featured morals and lessons. In "Psalm," Longfellow discusses the importance of living life wisely because of its brevity and so that we can set an example for future generations. "Cross" uses a natural element (another trait of Romanticism) to demonstrate how grief over the loss of a loved one can scar the heart. The poem discusses a real cross of snow ingrained in a mountainside out West.

2. Romantic Poets also rely on strict rhyme schemes, meter, and theme. "Psalm" exemplifies this characteristic by using quatrains (four-line stanzas) throughout with an ABAB CDCD . . . rhyme scheme. "Cross" is even more structured because it is an Italian sonnet, meaning that it has to have 14 lines with the first 8 lines containing an ABBAABBA rhyme scheme, and the last 6 lines using a CDECDE rhyme. The theme of making life count for something worthwhile is present in both poems which fit well into the standard Fireside Poet repertoire.