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Laurel
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Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

If he had lived, Longfellow would have been two hundred years old today, March 27, 2007. Perhaps we can begin the celebration of his birth with an article from today's Hindustan Times:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1939559,001100040001.htm

and a page from The Atlantic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/poetry/longfel/hwlindex.htm

and one from his home-town newspaper:

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/news/local/070227longfellow.html

The u>S. Postal Service celebrates him:

http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/6094541.html

and the story of his role in the antislavery movement is still unfolding:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/02/25/longfellows_other_tale/

http://media.www.dailyfreepress.com/media/storage/paper87/news/2007/02/26/News/History.Fans.Celebrat...

Did you know he had a brother?

http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/view/letters/3637503.html

Here's a beautiful site about Longfellow that includes a treasure trove of his poetry:

http://www.hwlongfellow.org/

and here's one of my favorites among his poems:

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveler hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveler to the shore.
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

What's your favorite?
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Laurel
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Here's an audio interview with Matthew Pearl about "The Dante Club," Pearl's murder mystery that centers on Longfellow's work in translating Dante's "Inferno."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1180097
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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LizzieAnn
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Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thanks Laurel for all this wonderful information on an American treasure!

Back (many years ago) in elementary school, we read Longfellow's The Ride of Paul Revere, and it became and remains one of my favorite pieces of poetry. Longfellow was a character in a book I read last year, Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club which piqued my interest in Longfellow. His biography is on my wish list, and I'm hoping to visit Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge as well as The Longfellow-Wadsworth House in Portland during a trip to New England later this year.
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Everyman
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thanks so much, Laurel, for the great links.

I adore much of Longfellow's poetry. He wasn't a rebel, like Whitman, or an enigmatic, like Dickinson, but he was a down to earth poet of and for the people. He gave us a wonderful version of our American past -- Paul Revere's Ride, the Courtship of Miles Standish, The Village Blacksmith, and of course the wonderful Song of Hiawatha.

My favorite Longfellow poem? I have several, but perhaps best of all is The Building of the Ship with great opening lines

"Build me straight, O worthy Master!
Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
That shall laugh at all disaster,
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!"

and its glorious final stanza:

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O UNION, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'T is of the wave and not the rock;
'T is but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee,--are all with thee!
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Choisya
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I love Longfellow too. I was very much into Native American folklore as a child and learned much of Song of Hiawatha. I still remember huge chunks of it and sometimes recite it to my grandchildren. It is a very lyrical poem, full of a songlike rhythm. We had an Indian style Canadian canoe on the River Trent when I was growing up so I particularly loved 'Hiawatha's Sailing' and the description of how he made his canoe:-

Give me of your bark, O Birch-tree!
Of your yellow bark, O Birch-tree!
Growing by the rushing river,
Tall and stately in the valley!
I a light canoe will build me,
Build a swift Cheemaun for sailing,
That shall float on the river,
Like a yellow leaf in Autumn,
Like a yellow water-lily!
"Lay aside your cloak, O Birch-tree!
Lay aside your white-skin wrapper,
For the Summer-time is coming,
And the sun is warm in heaven,
And you need no white-skin wrapper!"
Thus aloud cried Hiawatha
In the solitary forest,
By the rushing Taquamenaw,
When the birds were singing gayly,
In the Moon of Leaves were singing,
And the sun, from sleep awaking,
Started up and said, "Behold me!
Gheezis, the great Sun, behold me!"
And the tree with all its branches
Rustled in the breeze of morning,
Saying, with a sigh of patience,
"Take my cloak, O Hiawatha!"
With his knife the tree he girdled;
Just beneath its lowest branches,
Just above the roots, he cut it,
Till the sap came oozing outward;
Down the trunk, from top to bottom,
Sheer he cleft the bark asunder,
With a wooden wedge he raised it,
Stripped it from the trunk unbroken.
"Give me of your boughs, O Cedar!
Of your strong and pliant branches,
My canoe to make more steady,
Make more strong and firm beneath me!"
Through the summit of the Cedar
Went a sound, a cry of horror,
Went a murmur of resistance;
But it whispered, bending downward,
'Take my boughs, O Hiawatha!"
Down he hewed the boughs of cedar,
Shaped them straightway to a frame-work,
Like two bows he formed and shaped them,
Like two bended bows together.
"Give me of your roots, O Tamarack!
Of your fibrous roots, O Larch-tree!
My canoe to bind together,
So to bind the ends together
That the water may not enter,
That the river may not wet me!"
......
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Choisya
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wonderful links Laurel - thanks a lot.




Laurel wrote:
Here's an audio interview with Matthew Pearl about "The Dante Club," Pearl's murder mystery that centers on Longfellow's work in translating Dante's "Inferno."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1180097


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Everyman
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And while it's mixing the British and American classic boards, let's not forget his sonnet to Milton, who we will be discussing soon on the British Classics board:

Milton

I pace the sounding sea-beach and behold
How the voluminous billows roll and run,
Upheaving and subsiding, while the sun
Shines through their sheeted emerald far unrolled,
And the ninth wave, slow gathering fold by fold
All its loose-flowing garments into one,
Plunges upon the shore, and floods the dun
Pale reach of sands, and changes them to gold.
So in majestic cadence rise and fall
The mighty undulations of thy song,
O sightless bard, England's Maeonides!
And ever and anon, high over all
Uplifted, a ninth wave superb and strong,
Floods all the soul with its melodious seas.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Everyman wrote:
And while it's mixing the British and American classic boards, let's not forget his sonnet to Milton, who we will be discussing soon on the British Classics board:

Milton

I pace the sounding sea-beach and behold
How the voluminous billows roll and run,
Upheaving and subsiding, while the sun
Shines through their sheeted emerald far unrolled,
And the ninth wave, slow gathering fold by fold
All its loose-flowing garments into one,
Plunges upon the shore, and floods the dun
Pale reach of sands, and changes them to gold.
So in majestic cadence rise and fall
The mighty undulations of thy song,
O sightless bard, England's Maeonides!
And ever and anon, high over all
Uplifted, a ninth wave superb and strong,
Floods all the soul with its melodious seas.




I had to look up "ninth wave," and I don't know whether I dare bring up what I found or not (speaking of mixing boards). Here's what Wikipedia says:

"In Celtic mythology, the boundaries of the mortal world are marked by the Ninth Wave. Beyond the Ninth Wave is the Otherworld, the realm of faerie, where magic happens and where the soul journeys. Avalon is beyond the Ninth Wave."
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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fanuzzir
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow, like William Cullen Bryant was a romantic historian of the early 19th century, creating compelling narratives of national origins for a country as yet without a native poetry tradition. I'm always intrigued by the way both poets embraced the former civilization of the Indians--as mysterious, noble, and lost--and therefore fit subjects for elegy. Not to be the killjoy but let's also remember that Indians were, and are very much around, and that the U. S. was at war with nations across North America while Americans were shedding a tear over their "disappearance." (I like Longfellow as a translater and man of letters)
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Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Laurel wrote:
If he had lived, Longfellow would have been two hundred years old today, February 27, 2007.



Here's to a Happy Birthday, Henry Longfellow! He was the brightest of stars in so many genres, but I personally admire his ability to articulate the ethos and beauty of America's traditional legends, including

Song of Hiawatha-- A lyrical ode to an Indian chief and his mythic relationship with the American landscape. The tale inspired an appreciation of Native American culture and our nation's natural beauty.

Paul Revere's Ride— A dramatization of the famous horse ride during the American Revolution. The tale ingeniously recalls the quick pace of a galloping horse.

The Courtship of Miles Standish – A mesmerizing ballad about Longfellow's colonial ancestors in love and war. The novella-like epic made the Mayflower Pilgrims into national icons. (The tale has been newly restored into modern English as The Romance of Pilgrims.)

Evangeline-- Considered by many to be the Romeo and Juliet of American literature. The tale is among the most poignant love-stories ever told, relating a wartime tragedy during the colonial era.

Two centuries later, all of the above are still in print. As such, Longfellow still speaks to the soul of America:

“... Ye who love a nation's legends,
Love the ballads of a people...
...Who have faith in God and Nature,
Who believe that in all ages
Every human heart is human ... *”

(*Song of Hiawatha,an online edition)


Regards,

David_B
editor,the Romance of Pilgrims
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Laurel
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Good post, David. Thank you!



David_B wrote:

Laurel wrote:
If he had lived, Longfellow would have been two hundred years old today, February 27, 2007.



Here's to a Happy Birthday, Henry Longfellow! He was the brightest of stars in so many genres, but I personally admire his ability to articulate the ethos and beauty of America's traditional legends, including

Song of Hiawatha-- A lyrical ode to an Indian chief and his mythic relationship with the American landscape. The tale inspired an appreciation of Native American culture and our nation's natural beauty.

Paul Revere's Ride— A dramatization of the famous horse ride during the American Revolution. The tale ingeniously recalls the quick pace of a galloping horse.

The Courtship of Miles Standish – A mesmerizing ballad about Longfellow's colonial ancestors in love and war. The novella-like epic made the Mayflower Pilgrims into national icons. (The tale has been newly restored into modern English as The Romance of Pilgrims.)

Evangeline-- Considered by many to be the Romeo and Juliet of American literature. The tale is among the most poignant love-stories ever told, relating a wartime tragedy during the colonial era.

Two centuries later, all of the above are still in print. As such, Longfellow still speaks to the soul of America:

“... Ye who love a nation's legends,
Love the ballads of a people...
...Who have faith in God and Nature,
Who believe that in all ages
Every human heart is human ... *”

(*Song of Hiawatha,an online edition)


Regards,

David_B
editor,the Romance of Pilgrims


"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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fanuzzir
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

David, please tell us more about Evangeline. I'm not familiar with this legend/poem and am always interested in the tales of thwarted romance in early America. Have you discovered Lydia Maria Child's Indian romance Hobomok? (Rutgers UP).
Bob
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Choisya
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I vaguely remember learning Evangeline at school when we learned about Canada, then one of our colonies. I remember the first line 'This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks'. :smileyhappy: It is a legend about French settlers, who became British subjects, being driven from their lands in Nova Scotia for refusing to take up arms against the French during the Anglo-French war over Canada. Evangeline was supposedly separated from her lover on her wedding day and the poem tells of the years she spent trying to find him. It has a very sad ending. I believe these settlers ended up in the North of the USA. My late husband, who went to Montreal University and had a sister in Nova Scotia, knew this legend, which is still told amongst the Quebecois and Nova Scotians.

http://www.cajunculture.com/Other/Evangeline.htm

http://www.thecajuns.com/evanglne.htm
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Laurel
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I've been to little St. Martinsville, Louisiana, where I bought the "True Story" book. I read it and found it quite interesting, but have since lost it.



Choisya wrote:
I vaguely remember learning Evangeline at school when we learned about Canada, then one of our colonies. I remember the first line 'This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks'. :smileyhappy: It is a legend about French settlers, who became British subjects, being driven from their lands in Nova Scotia for refusing to take up arms against the French during the Anglo-French war over Canada. Evangeline was supposedly separated from her lover on her wedding day and the poem tells of the years she spent trying to find him. It has a very sad ending. I believe these settlers ended up in the North of the USA. My late husband, who went to Montreal University and had a sister in Nova Scotia, knew this legend, which is still told amongst the Quebecois and Nova Scotians.

http://www.cajunculture.com/Other/Evangeline.htm

http://www.thecajuns.com/evanglne.htm


"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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RCM
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

After looking at some of the Longfellow links, I see where I missed out.
An early poisoning, without counter-action, led me to believe that that which is touted to be true and is shown to be all make-believe, is bad. And I lived for 3 years , in the military, in New Orleans where Fact and Fancy are so well blended together---as it apparently is in _Evangeline_.
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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

[ Edited ]

Choisya wrote:
I vaguely remember learning Evangeline at school when we learned about Canada, then one of our colonies. I remember the first line 'This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks'. :smileyhappy: It is a legend about French settlers, who became British subjects, being driven from their lands in Nova Scotia for refusing to take up arms against the French during the Anglo-French war over Canada. Evangeline was supposedly separated from her lover on her wedding day and the poem tells of the years she spent trying to find him. It has a very sad ending. I believe these settlers ended up in the North of the USA. My late husband, who went to Montreal University and had a sister in Nova Scotia, knew this legend, which is still told amongst the Quebecois and Nova Scotians.

http://www.cajunculture.com/Other/Evangeline.htm

http://www.thecajuns.com/evanglne.htm




Choisya,

Actually, the Acadians were ethnically cleansed off their lands by the governor for not signing a loyalty oath to the crown (which the previous governor had told them it wasn't necessary for them to sign). It had nothing to do with refusing to fight against the French. It is a sad story. The Acadians were let off in the American colonies, but many of them wound up in New Orleans. My own Acadian ancestors apparently moved up back to Quebec (from the colonies) from whence it would have been impractical to expel the entire French speaking population.

It is difficult to find much about Canadian history in the US (in fact, the ignorance is appalling. Not to denigrate Barnes and Noble, but, just to use it as an example, if you go to a bookstore and look for a Canadian history, you would be fortunate to find a single book!). I have an interest as my ancestors were among the founders of Quebec, the first arriving in Canada in 1604.

The story of Evangeline, as I recall, was of an Acadian girl separated from her fiance on their wedding day. They were taken away in separate ships. She spends the rest of her life searching for him, and finally finds him on his death bed in Boston (where she is working as a nurse) many, many years later.

There's an article on the Longfellow revival in the January 8 TLS, by the way. I mention this because you are across the pond and have access without being a long term postal subscriber like myself. The cover of that week's TLS is "The Parting of Evangeline and Gabriel" by noted British artist John Faed (painted 1870).

Message Edited by holyboy on 03-01-200704:50 PM

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Re: Happy Birthday, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


holyboy wrote: Actually, the Acadians were ethnically cleansed off their lands by the governor for not signing a loyalty oath to the crown (which the previous governor had told them it wasn't necessary for them to sign). It had nothing to do with refusing to fight against the French. It is a sad story. The Acadians were let off in the American colonies, but many of them wound up in New Orleans. My own Acadian ancestors apparently moved up back to Quebec (from the colonies) from whence it would have been impractical to expel the entire French speaking population.

It is difficult to find much about Canadian history in the US (in fact, the ignorance is appalling.




Wow, Holyboy, to think you have a personal connection here. I am so grateful to everyone for excavating this narrative of Canadian-American relations and the role of imperial war in the displacement of colonial populations. To think that American Cajuns have a legacy, and a stake, in Franco-English international conflict. It is a bracing reminder to us all that ethnicity is a way for us Americans to look beyond our borders and to recreate the circumstances, personal and historical, that got us here. (I do the same with my Italian immigrant ancestors).
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A Longfellow Tale: The Story Behind the Story of Evangeline


fanuzzir wrote:
David, please tell us more about Evangeline. I'm not familiar with this legend/poem and am always interested in the tales of thwarted romance in early America.
Bob





The Story Behind the Story of Evangeline
Thanks everyone for the wonderful discussion about Henry Longfellow and his Evangeline. When first published in 1847, the ballad of Evangeline deeply touched the hearts of Americans; some say that every family bought a copy. The reason was as poignant as the story itself.

As young children, Longfellow's generation knew thousands of real-life Evangeline's. They were then elderly women; their husbands and lovers also disappeared in battle during colonial wars. Evangeline's lonely search for her missing lover was the sad fate of all too many American women.

Several of Longfellow's uncles and older cousins were among those who never returned from war. Invading British troops burned the family's hometown in Maine, just as they had destroyed Evangeline's village in nearby Nova Scotia. Most of America's coastal cities witnessed similar assaults. (As late as 1814, when Henry Longfellow was seven years old, British troops returned again to burn Washington, DC.)

Henry Longfellow and his generation never forgot the sorrows of their parents' generation. In 1858, a decade after writing Evangeline, Longfellow published an allegorical sequel, The Courtship of Miles Standish. The poet sought meaning and redemption for Evangeline's tragedy, by going further back in time, and relating the fabled exploits of his colonial ancestors, beginning as Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620. Like Evangeline, the Courtship was a runaway bestseller, completing Longfellow's famed duet of epic, romantic ballads.

However, whereas Evangeline closed a tragic past, the Courtship of Miles Standish sought to open a brighter future. The Courtship begins with the same themes of war, tragedy, and thwarted love, but concludes in a remarkable, Shakespearean flourish, celebrating hope, forgiveness, and an eternal American Dream. This time, a beautiful, good-natured heroine was triumphant. (She was Longfellow's great-grandmother.)

The Courtship of Miles Standish has been restored in modern English as the Romance of Pilgrims, and includes new, explanatory passages. The original Evangeline is still in print; its pace is deliberately restrained and measured. Longfellow was sensitive to the collective memory of a generation for which a tale of lost love was more than just a story.

Regards,
David B.
editor, The Romance of Pilgrims
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fanuzzir
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Re: A Longfellow Tale: The Story Behind the Story of Evangeline

David, thank you for this beautiful reminder of our literary past. I have always wondered why the American Revolution did not figure more prominently in narrative fictions of our national origins, and you have provided a hint: it may well have been too socially disruptive and violent to become a "usable past." It makes sense that Longfellow and his contemporaries would jump back a few generations to the Puritan settlement of New England--these New England romances became the best sellers of the 1820s, and the source and precedent for a book that this club has enjoyed reading, "The House of the Seven Gables." Your description of Evangeline reminded me of the last chapter of Crevecouer's Letters from an American Farmer, by the way, which also climaxes with a family torn apart by war.
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