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Themes

We think "The Day is Done" is all about the power of art.  When the speaker is feeling down, the one thing he can turn to is poetry.  He wants us to know that books and poems can make us feel better.  They can stir our emotions and fill the world with beautiful music.  Come to think of it, that's pretty much how Shmoop feels about it too, so this poem works just great for us. 

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. Do you turn to art when life feels kind of overwhelming?  Do you have a favorite song or book or poem that always makes you feel better?
  2. Do you think that reading something aloud gives it special power?  Why is that such a big deal in this poem?
  3. Does this poem seem "simple and heartfelt" (line 14)?   Does it seem like something that was written 150+ years ago, or do the feelings in it still seem fresh and real?
  4. Is Longfellow inviting us to read to him?  Does that seem weird or creepy to you?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Longfellow uses this poem to both describe what poems can do for us and to actually do it.  While he's talking about how poems can soothe the reader, his language is working to calm us and make us happy.

The poem works to build a connection between author and reader.   Longfellow literally invites us to read a poem aloud to him, creating a kind of magical connection across the distance of time.

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