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Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie--Selected Lines and Illustrations

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Item 15670

MMN Image 15670

/ Maine Historical Society

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Maine's native son, is the epitome of Victorian Romanticism. Aroostook County is well acquainted with Longfellow's epic poem, Evangeline, because it is the story of the plight of the Acadians, who were deported from Acadie between 1755 and 1760. The descendants of these hard-working people inhabit much of Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

 

Item 15671

This is the forest primeval...

This is the forest primeval... / Maine Historical Society

The opening lines discuss the Norman-French village of Grande Pré. Because I am familiar with the rocky coast of Maine, the Forest Primeval appears to me much like the coast of Maine.

 

Item 15672

Michael the fiddler...

Michael the fiddler... / Maine Historical Society

The village of Grand Pré, complete with the local character, such as Michael the fiddler, is having a good time.

 

Item 15673

This is the house of the Prince of Peace...

This is the house of the Prince of Peace... / Maine Historical Society

The deportation of the Acadians is imminent. The local priest admonishes the soldiers for interrupting the people of Grand Pré from their prayers. I depict the reading of the proclamation in the upper right.

 

Item 15674

Gabriel...

Gabriel... / Maine Historical Society

Evangeline, set to wed Gabriel, comforts him and tells him not to worry, that they can weather the storms that are before them, as long as they are together.

 

Item 15675

Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless head...

Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless head... / Maine Historical Society

It is now the start of the deportation. Grand Pré is burning, and the townspeople are heading to the beach to get on their assigned ships. Evangeline's father stumbles and then dies in Evangeline's arms while Father Felician administers the last rites. Gabriel cannot go back to be with her. He sails away without his childhood sweetheart, Evangeline.

 

Item 15676

O Father, Felician...

O Father, Felician... / Maine Historical Society

The priest and Evangeline are determined to find Gabriel and their people. Much of the poem takes place on her journey. Although the priest remains at a mission, I show Father Felician in several scenes to remind the viewer that the Acadians have a strong connection with their Catholic faith. Here, Evangeline just misses Gabriel, who takes the other side of the river in his canoe. He is a voyager.

 

Item 15677

Saw he the forms of the priest...

Saw he the forms of the priest... / Maine Historical Society

The priest and heroine find Gabriel's father who is now a wealthy rancher. She just misses Gabriel, who sets off on another canoe trip that morning.

 

Item 15678

...a passage rude to the wheels of the emigrants wagon...

...a passage rude to the wheels of the emigrants wagon... / Maine Historical Society

On their adventures, they travel through the prairie. Buffalo and elk are described in their travels.

 

Item 15679

Touched were their hearts at her story...

Touched were their hearts at her story... / Maine Historical Society

Around the campfire, an old Indian woman tells the story of her Acadian husband who was murdered. The priest and Evangeline tell of their search.

 

Item 15680

Just as the sun went down...

Just as the sun went down... / Maine Historical Society

This is a camp meeting. I was unsure what it was like, although it was clear that they recognized a crucifix nailed to a tree and heard friendly voices in prayer.

 

Item 15681

Thus did the long sad years glide on...

Thus did the long sad years glide on... / Maine Historical Society

Evangeline seeks her sweetheart for over twenty years. She has numerous adventures with Creoles, Indians, and Blacks. This shows the Rocky Mountains in winter.

 

Item 15682

Sweet was the light of his eyes...

Sweet was the light of his eyes... / Maine Historical Society

Evangeline is old and tired. She has become a Daughter of Wisdom in Philadelphia. She spends her days administering care to the poor, sick, and dying at an almshouse. Influenza is rampant. Suddenly she hears, "Evangeline," from the grieving lips of the dying Gabriel. As true with a romantic drama, the heroine is reunited with her beloved Gabriel so briefly.

 

Item 15683

Still stands the forest primeval...

Still stands the forest primeval... / Maine Historical Society

Not wanting to end the saga with a picture of the dying and aged, I illustrated the final resting place of Gabriel and Evangeline under a sturdy tree, next to each other and their beloved Grand Pré.

 

 

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