Half of my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions chat would not be stilled,
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;
Though, half way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,–
A city in the twilight dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights.–
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem MEZZO CAMMIN


  1. Alison Rose says:

    I love this poem, although I did interpret it a little differently. I believe that the poem begins with Longfellow discussing his failures to accomplish his dreams (that could very well be writing more poetry), but instead of mourning a lover I believe that he finds these dreams lost because he focuses so much on his failure, and his death. When he speaks of the city beneath him he simply sees his past and the vast hopes he had for it. When he looks up the hill he sees a “waterfall of Death”, representing that he feels his life is almost over, and he has accomplished nothing. He sees a past haunted by death and no future to speak of.

  2. Jess says:

    I agree. This is a petrarchan sonnet. The typical rhyme scheme is abbaabba/cdecde, but longfellow changed the scheme to a cdcdcd ending.

  3. Mary Kearney says:

    The analysis on this poem is incorrect. As a literature teacher the poem is an Italian Sonnet with the tone shift at the volta. It is not written in terza rima but rather abbaabbacdcdcd and is a sonnet not divided into stanzas. Always check your sources on the Net!!

  4. Diogo Kobayashi says:

    Iam the first one to post in this great poem. ^.^ too bad noone posted before its a really great poem as said before.

    This poem talks about the human conscience about what he´s lived and an unknown (better)future yet to come, in case of dante´s is the path of man of the midle age(about 35) through hell, purgatory till he reaches the paradise. Also the title is very similiar to dante´s inferno(hell) first line in the original italian.

    “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita…”

    About the stanzas…both of them are the same “Alexander” verses, i think. its the “terza rima” the second verse of first stanza rymmes with first and third from sencond stanza. ABA BCB

    Thats all folks

    Other´s poems that uses the terza rima and more or less uses the sama theme of dante´s and longfellow. In fact its about the “world´s machine” a man apparently in his middle age searching his own answers all of sudden he faces all “science” (answers).Altough they are brazillian writers i hope u guys can find a translation one.

    here´s the authors and poems:

    Carlos Drummond de Andrade – a Maquina do Mundo
    (world´s machine)
    Haroldo de Campos – A Maquina do Mundo repensada
    (world´s machine re-thought)

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