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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in a seaport, and his youth and early manhood were passed in intimate association with sea-life. In his half-autobiographical reverie My Lost Youth he records something of the effect which these associations had upon his mind. According to his diary he began writing The Building of the Ship on June 18, 1849. Work upon it, however, was interrupted by the illness and death of his father, which took him to Portland and detained him there, but not unlikely his stay in the city by the sea gave him opportunity for brooding over the poem. "I prefer the seaside to the country," he once said, "the idea of liberty is stronger there." At any rate, in September he was again engaged upon the poem, and on the 20th noted: "The Building of the Ship goes one. It will be rather long. Will it be good?" On the 22nd he finished the poem.
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