The most popular citizen of Simplex Pond was surprised and confused to learn that the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was no longer taught at Bowdoin College, the alma mater of the Portland-born poet.

Gilmore Hilton was told by the chair of the English Department that the “bearded bard is too shallow for we who travel deep into the groves of academia. Those who we teach must be consistently profound. You have not heard of Ezra Pound, but his venue is my arena.”

Hilton countered, “Au contraire, I enjoy Ezra Pound. I especially relish his “Tenzone” and these lines:

‘I beg you, my friendly critics,

Do not set about to pressure me an audience.

I mate with my free kind upon the crags.’

“Also, with all due respect, your ‘we’ should be an ‘us,’ your ‘who’ should be a ‘whom,’ and your ‘deep’ should be a ‘deeply,'” Hilton added.

Somewhat miffed, Professor Chamberlain kept his poise and again attacked Longfellow, “His subjects are too simple: battles, blacksmiths, rain, arsenals and driftwood. How trite! Also, he restricted himself by poetic devices like rhyme, symbolism, personification, onomatopoeia and rhythm. His moral messages are too trivial. The rewards of hard work and unrequited love have been in verse for three millennia.”

Hilton countered, “Longfellow was innovative in his verse. He took Vergil’s dactylic hexameter and made it better. Rhyme and other poetic devices did not impact his message. There is nothing simple about these lines:

‘The grave is not Life’s goal.’

‘God had sifted three kingdoms to find

The wheat for his planting.’

‘The long mysterious Exodus of death.'”

The two sages parted with a handshake that was agreeable but not congenial.

Later that day Gilmore Hilton saw the town’s librarian. Margaret Miller mentioned, “a Professor Chamberlain took out a copy of Longfellow’s poetry today.”

The Simplex Pond scholar reacted, “I’m not surprised.”


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