languages at Harvard and was one of the best beloved instructors at the university. He resigned that he might devote himself to writing and was succeeded at Harvard by James Russell Lowell. Though Longfellow wrote in prose and is the author of many shorter poems, his reputation is mainly based upon his longer poems. Longfellow was a great admirer of the German poet, Goethe, to whose “Hermann and Dorothea” we are indebted for much of the form and no doubt some of the story of Evangeline. The story of Acadie was told first to Hawthorne by a friend of both authors; but the tale was hardly dark enough to suit the fancy of Hawthorne, whereas to Longfellow it seemed to have in it precisely those elements of faith and devotion that make the widest appeal. In a collection of poems published in 1850 appeared the poem of Longfellow's highest patriotic reach, the allegory of “The Building of the Ship.” A friend of Lincoln recited this poem to him, and when the lines of its closing apostrophe to the ship of state were reached, with tears in his eyes the president said, “It is a great gift to be able to stir men like that.” In his poem, “Hiawatha,” Longfellow chose the metre of the Finnish epic “Kalevala,” which is peculiarly suited to the tales of primitive people. The worthiest and most picturesque traditions of the American Indian are woven into a connected story whose charm is greatly heightened by the novel melody of the verse. In 1861 the happiness of Longfellow's home life was broken by the death of his wife, who was fatally burned. He turned from this sorrow and the anxieties of the Civil War to the more mechanical work of writing tales and making translations. The “Tales of a Wayside Inn” appeared in 1863, and seven years later he published his translation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” On Longfellow’s seventy-second birthday the children of Cambridge presented him with a chair made from the wood of the “Village Blacksmith’s” chestnut tree. He died March 24, 1882, aged seventy-five. In 1884 a bust of him was placed in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey—England’s gracious tribute to the renown of America's best loved poet.



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 2 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

[ocr errors]

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.




[merged small][ocr errors]

IN the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas, Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand-Pré Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to the eastward, Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without number. Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labor incesSant, Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the floodgates Opened and welcomed the sea to wander at will o'er the meadows. West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards and cornfields Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain; and away to the northward Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on the mountains Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended. There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village. Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of chestnut, Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries. Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows; and gables projecting Over the basement below protected and shaded the doorway. There in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the sunset Lighted the village street, and gilded the vanes on the chimneys, Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs spinning the golden Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens.





Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the chil-
Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them.
Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and
Hailing his slow approach with words of affectionate welcome.
Then came the laborers home from the field, and serenely the
sun sank -
Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed. Anon from the belfry
Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the roofs of the village
Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds of incense ascending,
Rose from a hundred hearths, the homes of peace and content-
Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers,
Dwelt in the love of God and of man. Alike were they free from
Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics.
Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to their windows;
But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of the
There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.

Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the Basin of Minas, Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand-Pré, Dwelt on his goodly acres; and with him, directing his household, Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the pride of the village. Stalworth and stately in form was the man of seventy winters; Hearty and hale was he, an oak that is covered with snow-flakes; White as the snow were his locks, and his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves. Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers; Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the wayside, Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses! Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noontide
Flagons of home-brewed ale, ahl fair in sooth was the maiden.
Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while the bell from its
Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest with his hyssop
Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them,
Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet of beads and
her missal,
Wearing her Norman cap and her kirtle of blue, and the ear-
Brought in the olden time from France, and since, as an heir-
Handed down from mother to child, through long generations.
But a celestial brightness—a more ethereal beauty—
Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession,
Homeward serenely she walked with God’s benediction upon her.
When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite

Firmly builded with rafters of oak, the house of the farmer Stood on the side of a hill commanding the sea; and a shady Sycamore grew by the door, with a woodbine wreathing around it. Rudely carved was the porch, with seats beneath; and a footpath Led through an orchard wide, and disappeared in the meadow. |Under the sycamore-tree were hives overhung by a penthouse, Such as the traveler sees in regions remote by the roadside, Built o'er a box for the poor, or the blessed image of Mary. Farther down, on the slope of the hill, was the well with its moss-grown Bucket, fastened with iron, and near it a trough for the horses. Shielding the house from storms, on the north, were the barns and the farm-yard; There stood the broad-wheeled wains and the antique ploughs and the harrows; There were the folds for the sheep; and there, in his feathered seraglio, Strutted the lordly turkey, and crowed the cock, with the selfSame

« 前へ次へ »