Longfellow Fans Seek to Make the Weather Verse In honor of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's birth — 200 years ago Tuesday — the Longfellow Bicentennial Committee invites broadcasters to use lines from his poems in weather reports. For instance: "Silent and soft and slow descends the snow."
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Longfellow Fans Seek to Make the Weather Verse

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Longfellow Fans Seek to Make the Weather Verse

Longfellow Fans Seek to Make the Weather Verse

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Listen my children, and you shall hear of the poet who immortalized Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born 200 years ago today. The American poet gave us Paul Revere's ride and Hiawatha. And fans of his verse are marking his birthday with readings, concerts, as well as something called The Longfellow Poetry Forecast.

Here's Andrea Shea of member station WBUR in Boston.

ANDREA SHEA: Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, but he lived the bulk of his live here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On this morning, the poet's huge colonial yellow home is covered in a fresh layer of snow, and it's still coming down.

Ms. MARIAN CARLSON (Co-Chairperson, Longfellow Bicentennial Committee): Silent and soft and slow descends the snow.

SHEA: That's Marian Carlson quoting from the Longfellow poem, "Snowflakes". Carlson is co-chair of the Longfellow Bicentennial Committee, and that line is one of the many she and her cohorts recently e-mailed to 1,800 meteorologists all over the country. To honor Longfellow's birthday, she hopes radio and TV weather reporters will incorporate his verse into their forecast.

Ms. CARLSON: Maybe he wasn't writing a forecast, but he used this wonderful imagery as a segue into his state of thought. It often matched the state of the weather.

Mr. GREG SHOUP (Weatherman, WANE-TV): The day is cold and dark and dreary. It rains, and the wind is never weary.

SHEA: Greg Shoup, a weatherman at WANE-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana, says he'll definitely sprinkle his reports with Longfellow.

Mr. SHOUP: We have freezing rains, sleet, snow - kind of what they call a wintry mix. And weather people, myself included, are very verbose. I mean, we just talk and talk and talk and...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHOUP: ...we aren't precise like this is, so it's kind of neat that that he can fit in two lines what everybody feels about the day.

SHEA: Shoup delivers a local morning forecast. AccuWeather meteorologist Elliott Abrams is heard on commercial radio in over a dozen major markets.

Mr. ELLIOT ABRAMS (Meteorologist, AccuWeather): In Kansas City, for example, we could say, oh perfect day, whereon shall no man work but play - whereon it is enough for me not to be doing, but to be. In Boston recently, people have been saying, oh, the cold, cruel winter ever thicker, thicker, thicker froze the ice on lake and river.

SHEA: Poetry in a forecast isn't new for Abrams. He says he often writes his own.

Mr. ABRAMS: But he would say something like, the mists collect, the rainfalls thick and loud, chill with a smile of light on sea and land - lo, he looks back from the departing cloud.

SHEA: Back at the Longfellow house in Cambridge, the fluffy snow turns wet and heavy. Beneath her umbrella, poetry forecast organizer Marian Carlson says this day's weather reminds her of one of Longfellow's most famous quotes.

Ms. CARLSON: Into each life, some rain must fall. Some days must be dark and dreary. But he's telling his heart to be still, and wait and have hope.

SHEA: And that, according to Carlson, is Longfellow's timeless message.

For NPR News, I'm Andrea Shea.

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