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Evangeline: Prolog

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Painting of Henry-Wadsworth-Longfellow.

1807-1882

Evangeline, written by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was published in 1847. The poem's focus is on the betrothal of a fictional Acadian girl named Evangeline Bellefontaine to her beloved, Gabriel Lajeunesse, as the British deport them among masses of their fellowmen from Acadia in the Great Upheaval.

The Great Upheaval was the forced removal, by the British, of French inhabitants of parts of a North American region historically known as Acadia, between 1755 and 1764. The area includes the Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, and the U.S. state of Maine. The expulsion caused the deaths of thousands of people of French heritage.

Evangeline has been called the first important long poem in American literature. Although it is often studied at the highschool and college levels because of its atypical rhythmic structure and its historical and cultural significance, it's included on our Totally Literate website, which is primarily for young wordsmiths, solely because of its sheer verbal beauty. Youngsters will dramatically enlarge their vocabulary and noticeably increase their ability to express themselves with greater facility.

 Prolog

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-Pré.

 

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.

Evangeline, Longfellow's Epic poem with over 17,000 words, is present in its entirety on our website. The purpose for which is to enrich vocabulary and foster literary appreciation. It is accessible to Diamond, Gold, and Palladium members.

On desktops:

  • The document opens in MS Word.

  • Each word is highlighted as it is read aloud.

  • To increase culture awareness, get informed or be entertained, click on any word of the poem then choose "Search in sidebar for [that word.]" You'll see definitions, images, and videos.  ​​​

Also available on smartphones.​

​      Dutch --

"Speach" ighlighted in Engllish and Dutch shown in Sidebar
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