Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Evangeline, Longfellow's epic poem of undying love and fidelity, made a deep impression upon me as a young person. I used to walk through the woods surrounding my parents' house thinking to myself, "This is the forest primeval," although it was far from being a "forest primeval" but an old cow pasture all overgrown. Nevertheless, Longfellow's poetry has a way of resonating in youthful minds and hearts, as well as with those who are not so young. Here is the Introduction:
THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,

Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,

Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean

Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it

Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?

Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers --

Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,

Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?

Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!

Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pre.

Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,

Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion,

List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.


Anonymous said...

"Under the humble walls of the little Catholic churchyard,
In the heart of the city, they lie, unknown and unnoticed;"

*sigh.. :'-)

The closest I came to reading Evangeline, until tonight, was to hear my mom speak of it being mandatory reading in a high school English class.

I never understood one certain phrase of hers until tonight, because I hadn't looked into that half of my legacy. (We are out of Nova Scotia--she was at least 1/4 Mic'maq.. imagine her marrying an Irishman!) It was when she told someone at whom she was rather ticked off, "Kiss my royal Acadian (tookus)."

I've saved the shortcut to the poem to my desktop, and I will read it slowly.. later. There are too many others around presently, but thanks for this, too.

elena maria vidal said...

You are quite welcome, Gypsy. So glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Now you are talking about MY people! When these Acadians were forced out of Nova Scotia (because they were Catholic), they migrated down to Southeast Louisiana where they are known to this day as the "Cajuns" (just as colloquially "Indians" became "Injuns", so "Acadians" became "Cajuns"). But I think you knew this already!

God bless!

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Georgette, I thought of you when I posted it.

Stephanie A. Mann said...

I think Longfellow is so sadly forgotten. His translations of Italian verse and narrative poetry were once a tremendous influence on American culture!