"So full was I of slumber at the moment
in which I had abandoned the true way . . .
"O Muses, O high genius, now assist me!
O memory, that didst write down what I saw,
. . . thy nobility shall be manifest!"
Although chiefly remembered for such works as "The Psalm of Life," "The Children's Hour" and "Hiawatha," Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) spent many years as professor of modern languages at Bowdoin, and later at Harvard. In 1843, after several trips abroad, he began work on his translation of Dante.
Immensely popular, and commanding a larger audience than any other poet in America, Longfellow produced a body of work which skillfully rendered European culture into terms his New World readers readily appreciated -- with his translation of The Inferno one of his most important offerings.