Sunday, April 5, 2015

Morning Star vs Evening Star

Photo by kariobinja.
I realize that only a small set of people enjoy poetry (if you discount song lyrics).

And an even smaller set of people enjoy poetry about aging.

Nevertheless, as a retired English teacher now in midlife, I find myself thrilled when I find a poem that explores age-related themes.

I recently learned that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1887) wrote a fragment of a dramatic poem, featuring artist / inventor Michael Angelo.

Longfellow's unfinished manuscript was found in his desk after his death at age 75.

Michael Angelo, contains themes about aging, memory, legacy, and time--which all interest me a great deal now that I've hit midlife.

Here are a few lines from the section entitled "The Last Judgment":

...Which is more fair,
The star of the morning, or the evening star?
The sunrise or the sunset of the heart?
The hour when we look forth to the unknown,
And the advancing day consumes the shadows,
Or that when all the landscape of our lives
Lies stretched behind us, and familiar places
Gleam in the distance, and sweet memories
Rise like a tender haze, and magnify
The objects we behold, that soon must vanish. 
Longfellow (or at least his poem's persona) implies that the evening star is more fair. Why did I conclude this? Longfellow only uses 16 words to describe the morning star. In contrast, he uses 36 words to use the evening star--a symbol of late life.

I recommend reading the entire poem, even though some passages convey a bit of sorrow and regret. Longfellow conveys a richness when observing late life. I find value in the perspective of a mature poet.


The Oak: A Poem
Soap: An Aging Image


  1. I look forward to reading the entire poem. I have always enjoyed his poetry.

  2. I have read the entire poem and always found it dark until recently. I get it now.

  3. what a lovely poem. never heard of it until now. I will be sure to read the entire poem tonight!

    1. Oh, the whole poem is really long. It's about 10 poems linked together. It's almost like a one-person play! It's good, but I only read 1 section at a time. Enjoy.

  4. I have found greater wisdom with age than I ever had with the carelessness of youth. The old adage says
    "youth is wasted on the young."

    1. Indeed! I remember the neighbor saying that in "That's a Wonderful Life" to Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Thanks for recalling that quote in this instance.