“Mezzo Cammin” was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1842. However it was not published until 1886, by his brother, Samuel, in Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The title of this poem reflects the theme of the poem. “Mezzo” means medium, or middle; a midlife crisis, perhaps and “Cammin” is a city in Germany. In 1842, during the poem’s writing, Longfellow had taken time off to take a trip to Europe in favor of his health. He was in his mid-thirties and did indeed spend time in Germany during this trip. The title of this sonnet is also from the opening line of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, which Longfellow had actually translated. The translated line means, “In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself in a dark wood with the right road lost” (Longfellow). Longfellow relates to this line because he is in a period of his life where he feels he has fallen off track, and it is negatively affecting him.
This sonnet is about a worried, “midlife crisis” type of feeling the speaker is having. He feels as though he has not accomplished what he had hoped to by this point in his life, and he is feeling somewhat regretful. However, he sees that he cannot change the past, and though he is as close to death as he has ever been before, the subject itself is still far away, and there is still more for him to accomplish in life.
Bibliography and Further Reading
“Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.” : The Poetry Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2013; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “Other Poems- Mezzo Cammin.” Poems and Other Writings. New York: Library of America, 2000. 671. Print”; Longfellow: “Mezzo Cammin“” Longfellow: “Mezzo Cammin” N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2013.