“Mezzo Cammin” is an insightful poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was a poem that was written halfway through Longfellow’s life and titled as such. It follows the life of a middle aged man who is basically whining about all the things he missed out on in the past. This title comes from the first line of Dante’s divine comedy which is translated to “Midway upon the journey of our life”. Society looks at their past as if “I could have done this in my past, I missed out on this and that.
Longfellow shows that people felt like that in 1842. He uses different poetic techniques to get this “opinion” across. When he says “ I have let the years slip from me” it sounds like his past self didn’t care much about the present and focused more on the future.
Main Character’s Aspirations
In the next line he actually remembers the aspirations he had, no matter how inconceivable and impossible they are.
What holds him from completing these tasks even now, he describes as a “sorrow and a care that almost killed”. Sorrow usually doesn’t hold people back from things that they wanted to do in their past, we start to see separation of him from society, a slight oddity in him. The next line uses lots of imagery and shows us that he looks at life like a hill. One side has his gloomy city. This city has two different feelings about it, one is a mellow and slight happy feeling, quite dull. The other feeling is that of work, and bustling cities. A waterfall of death is on the other side, descending from the sky. He stands at the exact middle of the two.
Main Character’s Regrets about His Life
The speaker behind this poem has a huge ego. He has not cared once about anyone else besides himself and his future. This might contribute to his careless behavior in the past, he has no drive to do anything because none of the big things to do affected him beneficially. He might of also had no drive because of the things he inspired to be were too outrageous and he didn’t want to put himself under the intensive work to become the next “prime minister” or “supreme leader”. Again his ego coming into play, all about him.
This whining man is very clear about his outlook on life. Longfellow shows how much this man’s ego/procrastination has put him in the emotional gutters. He also gives a pretty blunt approach to life. You work, you regret, you die.