Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Evangeline








..Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
Ye who believe in the strength and beauty of a 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..


I read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's, Evangeline, maybe about a year ago, in part because of my interest in the Cajun people, so similar in many ways to my Spanish people of this part of the country, and also perhaps because there was a New Orleans style Cajun restaurant here in Denver by the name of Evangeline's, which served up some really good blackened chicken, red beans and rice, and other delicacies of the bayou country, but was eventually closed down, to my Evangeline-like despair. I also like the name, Evangeline, so unique and so archetypal of the Cajun people and of Louisiana. I've met only one Evangeline in person, whom I really did not even know that well, but I'm sure she must have been from Cajun country, with a name like that. So, I had decided to read Longfellow's poem, a tale of the sad removal of the peaceful Acadians from their homeland in Canada, resulting in a southerly diaspora that went on for many years, and led to many homeless French Canadians eventually ending up in Louisiana; with Acadians then becoming the Cajuns of Louisiana. In the tumult of the expulsion of the Acadians, a true tale of history, Longfellow captured the pain and sorrow of the many families and of the many lovers who were separated from each other in the confusion of their forced removal; those who were put onto ships which took them away from their green and peaceful home, in the form of a representative and stylized couple, Evangeline and her beloved Gabriel. What followed was the tragic tale of Evangeline's search for reunion and reconciliation with her lost love, over the ocean, over the bayou, and over the vast plain, from Canada to Louisiana, and over the span of many, many years.

I will not tell you the outcome of this tale, as it is best to experience it on one's own, if one is so inclined. But as I think about beautiful New Orleans, and of her ancestral and tragic past, I think also about Evangeline and Gabriel, and of the sufferings of the Acadian and Cajun people, in their forced flight from pastoral Acadie to a new land, Louisiana, and all of the sadness entailed of separated familes and of separated loved ones; events which are only too familiar in the New Orleans of both the past as well as of the present. I will only say that Evangeline one day found peace, and I hope that her descendants, both literal and otherwise, will one day again, be able to do the same.

7 Comments:

Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

Hello,
thanks for stopping by.
The Acadian Diaspora is one of the saddest historical events I have read about. I was writing a paper on immigration during the gilded age and came across a book about it--granted it is a little anachronistic but I had cast my net quite wide. Have to admit, it had been a long time since a book made me cry. I never read "Evangeline". As an English major I should be ashamed to admit it but I'm not. I will go read it now. Thanks.
And thanks for your thoughts--Your comment about Jesus put things in perspective for me in more ways than one.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

You are very welcome. If one believes that Jesus was both fully God, and fully man, then it is in his humanity that we can most relate to him, at least that's how I like to look at it.

11:00 AM  
Blogger willowtree said...

I've also met an Evangeline once. She was a nurse. My aunt was there when she introduced herself, and when she left my aunt said said. Evangeline? She must be from the Philippines. Turned out she was. (There is a story behind how she came to that conclusion, but I'll spare you)
The one thing I remember about Evangeline the nurse, was her cheerfulness. My goodness. Ive never met a more cheerful person. It wasn't put on though. She just was. The circumstances in which she worked weren't great at all, but she still kept a very jovial countenance.
She would have made her namesake happy I think.
Some of the lines in that poem were very eerie. He could have been talking about the Gulf Coast right now. When he was describing how families got separated in the confusion, and how the people were homeless, and friendless. Hmmm.
And how fitting (for similarity's sake) that it was King George that that made things so difficult on the Acadians.
Let me tell you though, after all of that. Praise God probably wouldn't be on my lips...not for a good long while, maybe like hmm 10 minutes or something.
She was toooo perfect. I think he based Evangeline on someone he admired from afar or just his idea of the perfect woman. Sweet story.
I wonder if love like that exists, or if it is even capable in this day and age among younger people. Like 40 and under?
You said the Cajuns were similar to your Spanish people. How so?

10:39 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

oh forgot to mention, while I was moseying around the Longfellow page, I found a poem called Endymion. Now, I have been hoping to change my layout soon, and the layout I chose was called Endymion, but then I decided I wanted to keep the flower theme, and began to decide against it, but. hmmm, I dont know, maybe I'll go for it, if even for a week or so. Well that is, if I can fix it properly.

I didnt know there was a story (another sweet one)behind the layout, I just liked the art on the page. It was nice to read that poem, and then read the mythology story. I wouldve read the Keats poem, but I didnt have the motivation.
Evangeline lead me to my layout! :)

10:48 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

I'll have to take a look at that "Endymion". Not familiar with that one.
That King George parallel you point out was kind of eerie!!!! Didn't think of that one.

Cajuns (French) and Spanish are similar in that we're both Latins, as also with the Italians, but it's the music that I think of first, specifically the accordion. The Cajun folk music with the accordion, sounds much like Spanish southwestern, especially in the waltz or polka patterns (but Cajun music is a little faster many times). The stories of lost love, hard times, or having good times in their music, are very similar. The folkways and folktales, are similar in style, pattern, and content. Both are Catholic cultures, and in fact some Cajuns today are of Spanish descent, as the early Acadian arrivals mixed with the Spanish settlers they found in Louisiana, so today some Cajuns have both Spanish ina addition to French surnames, as well as other types of surnames.

9:23 AM  
Blogger willowtree said...

Hey, where's your dollar store lady post?
I was going to tell you that since things are so discounted at the dollar store, you make up for the difference by listening her talk. As incomprehensible as it is :). She probably isnt even expecting you to say anything back to her. Just listen, nod and smile. She's a happy lady, and you have fabulous dollar stuff. Everybody is happy. I think I like making people happy too much. hehe
Dollar stores are dangerous for me. I love them, because they sell such pratical things on the cheap. Now they have the 79, 59, 39 cent stores (that's the name 79, 59, 39). Oh have mercy.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

What dollar store lady post?

Just kidding...I took it down for just a bit because I felt the Evangeline one was a little more timely, but I'm going to put it back very shortly.

I just find things like that kind of amusing. Believe me, listening, nodding, and smiling is about all that I do. I think I'm just hoping that she doesn't have a question at some point; then I'm completely lost.

I had a friend who we used to kid with each other about how communication goes sometimes awry. We used to laugh about when you run into someone you know, and you might say, "How's it goin'?", and they respond with, "Oh, nothing"; apparent that they didn't completely hear your greeting (you said "How's it goin'" not, "What are ya doin'"), or even funnier, they just weren't too interested in what you have to say. And of course, it works in vice versa, as well.

10:32 AM  

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