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Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 in Florence to a family of minor nobility. He entered into Florentine politics in 1295, but he and his party were forced into exile in a hostile political climate in 1301. Taking asylum in Ravenna late in life, Dante completed his Divine Commedia, considered one of the most important works of Western literature, before his death in 1321.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in 1807 in Portland, Maine, and he became a professor of modern languages at Harvard. His most famous narrative poems include The Song of Hiawatha, Paul Reveres Ride, "The Village Blacksmith," "The Wreck of the Hesperus." From his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, Longfellow got a brief outline of a story from which he composed one of his most favorite poems, 'Evangeline'. The original story had Evangeline wandering about New England in search of her bridegroom. One of the first poets to take the landscape and stories of North America as his subjects, Longfellow became immensely popular all over the world, and he was the first American commemorated in the Poets Corner of Westminster Abbey. He was given honorary degrees at the great universities of Oxford and Cambridge, invited to Windsor by Queen Victoria, and called by request upon the Prince of Wales. He was also chosen a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and of the Spanish Academy. He died on March 24, 1882.
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