The Song of Hiawatha

The Song of Hiawatha

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by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
     
 

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The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring an Indian hero. It is loosely based on the legends and ethnography of the Ojibwe (Chippewa, Anishinaabeg) and other Native American peoples as contained in Algic Researches (1839) and additional writings by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an ethnographer and United…  See more details below

Overview

The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring an Indian hero. It is loosely based on the legends and ethnography of the Ojibwe (Chippewa, Anishinaabeg) and other Native American peoples as contained in Algic Researches (1839) and additional writings by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an ethnographer and United States Indian agent. In sentiment, scope, overall conception, and many particulars, Longfellow's poem is very much a work of American Romantic literature, not a representation of Native American oral tradition. Longfellow insisted, "I can give chapter and verse for these legends. Their chief value is that they are Indian legends."

Longfellow had originally planned on following Schoolcraft in calling his hero Manabozho, the name in use at the time among the Ojibwe of the south shore of Lake Superior for a figure of their folklore, a trickster-transformer. But in his journal entry for June 28, 1854, he wrote, "Work at 'Manabozho;' or, as I think I shall call it, 'Hiawatha'—that being another name for the same personage." Hiawatha was not "another name for the same personage" (the mistaken identification of the trickster figure was made first by Schoolcraft and compounded by Longfellow), but a probable historical figure associated with the founding of the League of the Iroquois, the Five Nations then located in present-day New York and Pennsylvania. Because of the poem, however, "Hiawatha" became the namesake for towns, schools and a telephone company in the western Great Lakes region, where no Iroquois nations historically resided.

The poem was published on November 10, 1855, and was an immediate success. In 1857, Longfellow calculated that it had sold 50,000 copies.
Longfellow chose to set The Song of Hiawatha at the Pictured Rocks, one of the locations along the south shore of Lake Superior favored by narrators of the Manabozho stories. The Song presents a legend of Hiawatha and his lover Minnehaha in 22 chapters (and an Introduction). Hiawatha is not introduced until Chapter III.

In Chapter I, Hiawatha's arrival is prophesied by a "mighty" peace-bringing leader named Gitche Manito.

Chapter II tells a legend of how the warrior Mudjekeewis became Father of the Four Winds by slaying the Great Bear of the mountains, Mishe-Mokwa. His son Wabun, the East Wind, falls in love with a maiden whom he turns into the Morning Star, Wabun-Annung. Wabun's brother, Kabibonokka, the North Wind, bringer of autumn and winter, attacks Shingebis, "the diver". Shingebis repels him by burning firewood, and then in a wrestling match. A third brother, Shawondasee, falls in love with a dandelion, mistaking it for a golden-haired maiden.

In Chapter III, in "unremembered ages", a woman named Nokomis falls from the moon. Nokomis gives birth to Wenonah, who grows to be a beautiful young woman. Nokomis warns her not to be seduced by the West Wind (Mudjekeewis) but she does not heed her mother, becomes pregnant and bears Hiawatha.

In the ensuing chapters, Hiawatha has childhood adventures, falls in love with Minnehaha, slays the evil magician Pearl-Feather, invents written language, discovers corn and other episodes.

The poem closes with the approach of a birch canoe to Hiawatha's village, containing "the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face." Hiawatha welcomes him joyously; and the "Black-Robe chief" brings word of Jesus Christ. Hiawatha and the chiefs accept the Christian message. Hiawatha bids farewell to Nokomis, the warriors, and the young men, giving them this charge: "But my guests I leave behind me/ Listen to their words of wisdom,/ Listen to the truth they tell you." Having endorsed the Christian missionaries, he launches his canoe for the last time westward toward the sunset, and departs forever.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940015689099
Publisher:
Balefire Publishing
Publication date:
09/14/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
10 MB

Meet the Author

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy and was one of the five Fireside Poets.
Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, then part of Massachusetts, and studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841). Longfellow retired from teaching in 1854 to focus on his writing, living the remainder of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a former headquarters of George Washington. His first wife, Mary Potter, died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife, Frances Appleton, died in 1861 after sustaining burns when her dress caught fire. After her death, Longfellow had difficulty writing poetry for a time and focused on his translation. He died in 1882.
Longfellow wrote predominantly lyric poems, known for their musicality and often presenting stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. He has been criticized, however, for imitating European styles and writing specifically for the masses.

Though much of his work is categorized as lyric poetry, Longfellow experimented with many forms, including hexameter and free verse. His published poetry shows great versatility, using anapestic and trochaic forms, blank verse, heroic couplets, ballads and sonnets. Typically, Longfellow would carefully consider the subject of his poetic ideas for a long time before deciding on the right metrical form for it. Much of his work is recognized for its melody-like musicality. As he says, "what a writer asks of his reader is not so much to like as to listen".

As a very private man, Longfellow did not often add autobiographical elements to his poetry. Two notable exceptions are dedicated to the death of members of his family. "Resignation", written as a response to the death of his daughter Fanny in 1848, does not use first-person pronouns and is instead a generalized poem of mourning. The death of his second wife Frances, as biographer Charles Calhoun wrote, deeply affected Longfellow personally but "seemed not to touch his poetry, at least directly".

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The Song Of Hiawatha 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A true classic! One of my favorites. Longfellow really has a way with words. This is a very nice edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lets both get him
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the one titled 'Flower!'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Twirls a knife.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Same as other review