Evangeline


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A Tale of Acadie

(epic poem, 1847)




This is one of H. W. Longfellow's most famous works. It is set on the background of the deportation of the Acadians from their homeland in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia and other Canadian Atlantic provinces, during the Great Upheaval. Britian conquered Acadia in 1710. For the next forty five years or so the Acadians declined to take an unconditional oath of allegiance to Britain. Finally, the British Governor Charles Lawrence came up with a stronger stance and took the drastic decision for the expulsion of the Acadians from their homeland. With this as setting, an Acadian girl 'Evangeline' lived at Grand Pré village on the shore of the Minas Basin in Nova Scotia. Her father was a wealthy farmer. When she was seventeen, grown into a beautiful woman, she became betrothed to a man called 'Gabriel', the son of a blacksmith in that village. This poem describes Evangeline's grief and sadness and her long quest for her beloved one. Longfellow was motivated to write this poem by a story, told to him by his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne about an Acadian couple separated on their wedding day by the British expulsion of the inhabitants of Nova Scotia. The poem lays an important foundation stone to the Acadian people's history and cultural identity. Grand Pré has now become a pilgrimage site for the Acadians. Thousands of them from all over the world come to visit and celebrate their shared history.--Submitted by Kris Das





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