Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s interest in nostalgia is the focus of an upcoming series of events in downtown Brunswick. Longfellow Days is held annually to honor the life and work of the celebrated poet, a Bowdoin graduate of 1825, and this year’s festivities—which get underway February 4—are called “The Heart Hath Its Own Memory,” a quote from Longfellow’s 1880 poem “From My Arm-Chair.”
The Brunswick Downtown Association, which runs Longfellow Days, noted on its website how the poet was “fascinated with heroic figures of antiquity,” and “wrote sensitively, emotionally about his own life experiences and the aging process.” The intention is also to “look back at Longfellow’s reputation, the ways in which his talents have been viewed through the decades.”
Cinema studies professor Tricia Welsch is among this year’s speakers. On February 14 she’s talking about her new book project, Loose Leaves, which reflects on a lifetime of reading. On February 17, Welsch presents a screening and discussion of a film adaptation of the literary classic Little Women, which was written by one of Longfellow’s contemporaries, Louisa May Alcott.
Co-organizer Amy Waterman told The Forecaster more about the inspiration for this year’s Longfellow Days theme. “He wrote with a lot of feeling and he was fascinated with these sagas from all over the world, and stories of antiquity,” said Waterman, noting how Longfellow would adapt Norse legends into poetry.
Previous Longfellow Days themes, she said, have included his attitudes to slavery and the environment.