Christmas Bells

Origin

During the American Civil War, Longfellow's oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union cause as a soldier without his father's blessing. Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. "I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer", he wrote. "I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good".[2] Charles soon got an appointment as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded[3] in the Battle of New Hope Church (in Virginia), during the Mine Run Campaign. Coupled with the recent loss of his wife Frances, who'd died as a result of an accidental fire, Longfellow was inspired to write "Christmas Bells".

He first wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1863.[4] "Christmas Bells" was first published in February 1865, in Our Young Folks, a juvenile magazine published by Ticknor and Fields.[5]


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