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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

LESSONS 1-2

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

(1807—1882)

Henry W. Longfellow, the prominent American poet of the 19th century, was professor of modern languages at Bowdoin College and then professor of literature at Harvard Longfellow contributed essays and sketches to mapny magazines. But his main concern was poetry. Fame came to him when his first book of verses "Voices of the Night" (1839) was published. Among other works of his were "Ballads and Other Poems" (1842), "Poems on Slavery" (1842), "Evangeline" (1847), "The Song of Hiawatha" (1855), "Birds of Passage" (1858), "Tales of a Wayside Inn" (1863), and "Three Books of Song" (1872). Longfellow's translations of foreign literature were included into "The Poets and Poetry of Europe" (1846).

Longfellow's poetry is musical and melodious, melancholy and wistful.

Longfellow detested both political and religious oppression. "Poems on Slav­ery" were an indignant protest of the true humanist and democrat. The poet extolled peace and friendship among peoples, which was revealed in his most noted poem "The Song of Hiawatha" based on Indian legends. It was con­ceived as a poetic narration of an Indian hero. The poem was translated into many languages. In our country the best translation was made by the Russian writer I. Bunin   (1898).


 

THE SONG OF HIAWATHA

 THE  PEACE-PIPE.

 

On the Mountains of the Prairie,

On the great Red Pipe-stone

Quarry, Gitche Manito, the mighty,

He the Master of Life, descending,

On the red crags of the quarry

Stood erect, and called the nations,

Called the tribes of men together.

And they stood there on the meadow,

With their weapons and their war-gear,

Painted like the leaves of Autumn,

Painted like the sky of morning,

Wildly glaring at each other;

 In their faces stern defiance,

In their hearts the feuds of ages,

The hereditary hatred.

The ancestral thirst of vengeance.

Gitche Manito, the mighty,

The creator of the nations,

Looked upon them with compassion,

With paternal love and pity;

Looked upon their wrath and wrangling

But as quarrels among children,

 But as feuds and fights of children!

Over them he stretched his right hand,

To subdue their stubborn natures,

To allay their thirst and fever,

By the shadow of his right hand;

Spake to them with voice majestic

As the sound of far-off waters

 Falling into deep abysses,

Warning, chiding, spake in this wise: —

"O my children!my poor children!

Listen to the words of wisdom,

Listen to the words of warning,

From the lips of the Great Spirit,

From the Master of Life, who made you!

"I have given you lands to hunt in,

I have given you streams to fish in,

I have given you bear and bison,

 I have given you roe and reindeer,

I have given you brant and beaver,

Filled the marshes full of wild-fowl,

Filled the rivers full of fishes;

Why then are you not contented?

 Why then will you hunt each other?

"1 am weary of your quarrels,

Weary of your wars and bloodshed,

Weary of your prayers for vengeance;

 Of your wranglings and dissensions;

All your strength is in your union,

 All your danger is in discord;

Therefore be at peace henceforward,

And as brothers live together.

"Bathe now in the stream before you,

Wash the war-paint from your faces,

 Wash the blood-stains from your fingers,

Bury your war-clubs and your weapons,

 Break the red stone from this quarry,

Mould and make it into Peace-Pipes,

Take the reeds that grow beside you,

Deck them with your brightest feathers,

Smoke the calumet together,

And as brothers live henceforward!"

 

COMMENTARY

  1. the Northland — the southern shore of Lake Superior, in the region between the Pictured Rocks and the Grand Sable.
  2. Ojibways— an Indian tribe located on the southern shore of Lake Superior.
  3. Dacotahs (or Dakotas—a tribe of the Northwest.
  4. fen-land — an area of low, marshy land.
  5. eyrie(or aerie— the nest of a bird on a cliff or a mountaintop.
  6. Peace-Pipe — a highly ornamented ceremonial pipe smoked as a sign of peace among N. American Indians.
  7. On the Mountains of the Prairie— near the boundary between Minnesota and Dakota, near the head waters of the Mississippi.
  1. red pipe-stone - a pink stone carved by the Indians info tobacco pipes quarry ['kworl] - an open excavation usually for obtaining building stone, slate, or limestone.
  2. GitcheManilo— the Great Spirit, the Master of Life.
  1. spake(archaic) — past of "speak".
  2. war-club— a kind of war weapon.
  3. GitcheGumee, the Big-Sea-Water— Lake Superior.
  4. Nokomis [nou'koumis] — Hiawatha's Lhaia'woBaz] grandmother
  5. wampum  ['wonipemj - beads made of shells, worn on strings, made into belts, etc.
  6. Mishe-Nahma— the Great Sturgeon.
  7. Cheemaun— Birch-canoe.
  8. Shaugodaya— Coward.
  9. Pauguk - Death.
  10. Chibiabos— a musician, friend of Hiawatha.

TASK to LESSON 1-2

TASK 1. Read the poem and translate your favourite extract.

TASK 2. Learn your favourite extract by heart