What is the summary of "The Singers" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Singers" is a poem about three different singers who are sent to the Earth by God. Their purpose is to sing a variety of songs and to

touch the hearts of men,

And bring them back to heaven again.

In the poem, each singer is in a different stage of life. The first singer is a young man who plays a golden lyre. He wanders as he plays his dreamy music. He is depicted as being carefree.

The second singer has a beard and it can be assumed that he is middle-aged because of the two singers he is between. He is a serious and contemplative person. He sings in the marketplace, and is

stirred with accents deep and loud

The hearts of all the listening crowd.

The last singer is an older man, whose hair is gray. This older man appears to be wise. When he sings, it is

in cathedrals dim and vast,

While the majestic organ rolled

Contrition from its mouths of gold.

People who hear all three of the singers cannot decide who is best. God looks at all three singers and knows that they each have a special gift. The gift of the young man is to charm. The gift of the middle-aged man is to strengthen. The gift of the older man is to teach. At the end of the poem, it is concluded that

He whose ear is tuned aright

Will hear no discord in the three,

But the most perfect harmony.