From Portland to Cambridge

HWL. "Manuscript Gleanings," 1846.


Longfellow Papers MS Am 1340 (146). Houghton Library.

A commonplace book Longfellow presented to his second wife, Frances ("Fanny") Elizabeth Appleton ("To Fanny, the Beloved, October 6, 1846"). Longfellow had met Fanny in Switzerland in the summer of 1836. Rejecting his advances for seven years, she finally relented on 10 May 1843. Longfellow's "Vita Nuova of happiness" (10 May 1844) began, and he tried to share with Fanny-as he does in this notebook about the composition of the poems later included in Voices of the Night-what she had missed during the years they had not been together. At the same time, he also, wisely enough, made clear that what is most important about his past life is having met her.

Here Longfellow reminds Fanny of a translation of a poem by the German writer Ludwig Uhland (1787-1862) they had collaboratively undertaken when they first met: "The other translations in this volume were made at various times, and for various purposes. That which has the most delightful associations of all is ‘The Castle by the Sea'. It was written at Zurich, August 9. 1836. You will remember it, dearest Fanny; the lovely drive along the lake, down the hill-side to the town. You held the little volume of Uhland in your hand, and we put a stanza or two into verse as we drove along in the spacious traveling Carriage. In the evening we completed it; you recording as I translated. Some of the best lines are yours."