Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 318
American poet Longfellow wrote “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport” when he visited Newport with his family in 1857. Originally from Maine and educated at Bowdoin College, Longfellow could read and write Hebrew. In this poem, the poet reflects on Judaism and religious freedom—two of the poem’s major themes.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 448
“The Jewish Cemetery at Newport” is about death and about the past. These are themes to which Longfellow was unusually sensitive among poets of his age. Although Longfellow’s reputation has never recovered from the drastic fall it took during the era of modernism, it should be recognized that the concern about history and memory this poem shows is rare during a period in which literature was often more concerned with an examination of the American present. Longfellow looks into the neglected odds and ends of history and finds meanings there that others overlook.
The poem contains well-researched, accurate information. It is true, for example, that the first Jews in America were Sephardim from Southern Europe. Longfellow, though, does not passively rely on this knowledge, but incorporates it into his own imaginative meditation. The story that the poet sees and finds in the cemetery in the end seems far more...
(The entire section contains 766 words.)
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