Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Book Review: Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow's Evangeline is a poem about two young lovers from the French-Canadian settlement Acadia, located in current-day Nova Scotia. Evangeline is the daughter of a farmer. They live an idyllic life. The father arranges her marriage with Gabriel, the blacksmith's son and Evangeline's sweetheart. The only challenge is the English forces that recently arrived and demand all the men to meet at the local church. The English claim the land and property of the residents and, by force of arms, expel the residents from their land. As with so many forced expulsions, families are divided and the lovers are separated. She begins a long quest to find Gabriel, which will take her to Louisiana, Michigan, and the American West, before the story ends in Philadelphia. She comes very close to catching up with him several times, but never close enough to reunite them. Until the end.

The poem is vivid and romantic. Longfellow describes the settings so well, from the details of the natural landscapes to the nooks and crannies of every household. Even more, he shows the spirit of Evangeline, whose hopes go up and down as she reunites with other old friends but not her most cherished one. She lives a full life but always faithfully seeks her lover. Their bittersweet reunion at the end is touching and haunting.


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