Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Reader-Moderator
bdNM
Posts: 470
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
0 Kudos

Introduction to "Song of Hiawatha"

Background on The Song of Hiawatha

The poem was published in 1855 and was an immediate success.  Longfellow claimed that over 50,000 copies of the poem were published and sold in his life.  At the time when Walt Whitman was publishing the first of his many editions of Leaves of Grass this was the # 1 poem in the U.S. 

The work is in trochaic tetrameter (trochee = - u, a long or accented syllable followed by a short or unaccented syllable).  The most common meter in English is iambic, which is the reverse, a short followed by a long.  The trochaic tetrameter is the meter of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, a work Longfellow was familiar with.  But where Finnish is naturally trochaic, English is not, and so, the poem has a rather strange sound.  Its other chief poetic quality, parallel structure, repetition and variation, adds to a certain sing-song sound.  Longfellow claimed that the meter and the parallelism was intended to reflect Indian speech patterns.  The meter does not reflect Indian dialects, but parallelism does (Hebraic poetry is also marked by parallelism). 

Longfellow based the work loosely on tales from the Algic Researches of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an investigation of the Ojibwe and other native groups.  Schoolcraft’s degree of scholarship and accuracy have been questioned – much of ethnic anthropology did not exist yet, and Longfellow’s poem is more of a piece of American Romantic poetry than an ethnographic work.  The figure of Hiawatha is based on an Ojibwe trickster, Manabozho.  Longfellow claimed that Hiawatha was another name for Manabozho, but he appears to be wrong.  In any event, the figure of Longfellow’s Hiawatha, whose world is Southern Canada and the Northern plains of the US (the area around Lake Superior – Hiawatha National Forest is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the historical Hiawatha, an Iroquois chief involved in the creation of the Iroquois confederacy, is purely coincidental.  Longfellow did not make use of any of the trickster qualities of Manabozho in his treatment of Hiawatha.

Longfellow referred to his poem as “this Indian Edda,” connecting the work with the Norse poems from Iceland. 

Dvorak in his Symphony # 9 (“From the New World”) paid homage to the poem in the second movement. 

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor wrote two choral works, Scenes from the Song of Hiawatha and Death of Minnehaha.

A popular musician, Mike Oldfield has a piece on “Hiawatha” from his album, Incantations.  The work is sung by Maddy Prior, formerly of the British folk-rock group, Steeleye Span.

Johnny Cash also has a song of Hiawatha on his album, Johnny Cash Sings Ballads of the True West

There are countless parodies of Longfellow’s work.  It’s pretty easy to parody.  Trochaic meter is used a lot in popular song and jingles. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived, for much of his life, in a house on Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA.  The house still stands, and you can visit its official site by clicking here:

http://www.nps.gov/long/index.htm

It’s located about ¼ to ½ mi almost due east of Harvard Square.

 

 

Dignity, always dignity.
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Introduction to "Song of Hiawatha"

[ Edited ]

Samuel Coleridge-TaylorMilitary March

from COLERIDGE-TAYLOR: Hiawatha Overture / Petite Suite

 

Haven't looked hard, but did find and play this.

 

(Selecting these is not repeating what I heard.  Somewhere nearby you should be able to play the selection fro Hiawatha Overture.  Sorry not to be more helpful.)

 

Consolation site: Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis in 1906

 

Wintertime view, second wintertime view

 

Restoration 2008-2009, second site.

 

Image of the Falls

 

(I visited the Falls several times, but not frequently, when I lived in the area.  Somehow, they did  convey some of the magic of the story.)

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Introduction to "Song of Hiawatha"

This is a nice reading from Chapter 10:

 

"Hiawatha's Wooing"

 

 

It is about 10 minutes in length.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Reader-Moderator
bdNM
Posts: 470
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Introduction to "Song of Hiawatha"

Thanks, P.

Dignity, always dignity.