Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Poetry
Dreams that Cannot Die

About Longfellow Reads Longfellow
An Interview With Layne Longfellow

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History and Coincidence
Music and Poetry
About the Recordings
Adaptation and Reaction
Longfellow and the Listener
A Dream That Would Not Die


Q: Are you willing to say what forced your retirement?

A: "Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans," as the saying goes. Between 1983 and 1992, I suffered a fractured spine, concussive brain injury, a broken nose and elbow and leg, and finally a stroke. I kept traveling and speaking until 1995, when my body gave out and the doctors told me I had to quit.

Longfellow Reads Longfellow

Q: You don't look or speak like a stroke victim with a broken back.

A: Well, thank you, but that's the difference between looking at this body and living in it. I have to say, though, that the same foolhardiness that got me into trouble has brought me this far back. I refused to give up, to stay down. And I had phenomenal disability insurance that supported my pursuit of recovery and rehabilitation. I'm eternally grateful for that; otherwise, all the places and people and coincidences that led to this work would not have been. I was seeking the recovery of health and found the rehabilitation of purpose.


Q: It is remarkable how this has unfolded.

A: I don't know how metaphysical to get here, but it has been a series of coincidences, of synchronicities, what some would call the support of the universe. It's been a wondrous process, and poetry is part of it. You asked me, "Why read Longfellow?" His poems engage the mind, ease the heart, and nourish the soul. How could that not help to heal the body?

"Longfellow Reads Longfellow"
Longfellow at Christmas in Cambridge, Massachusetts


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