Part the First:
Part the Second:
A Tale of Arcadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Part the First
- IN the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas,
- Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand-Pré
- Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to the eastward,
- Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without number.
- Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labor incessant,
- Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the flood-gates
- Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander at will o'er the meadows.
- West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards and corn-fields
- Solemnly down the street came the parish priest.
- Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain; and away to the northward
- Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on the mountains
- Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic
- Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended.
- There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village.
- Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of chestnut,
- Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries.
- Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows; and gables projecting
- Over the basement below protected and shaded the doorway.
- There in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the sunset
- Lighted the village street, and gilded the vanes on the chimneys,
- Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles
- Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs spinning the golden
- Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors
- Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens.
- Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the children
- Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them.
- Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and maidens,
- Hailing his slow approach with words of affectionate welcome.
- Then came the laborers home from the field, and serenely the sun sank
- Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed. Anon from the belfry
- Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the roofs of the village
- Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds of incense ascending,
- Rose from a hundred hearths, the homes of peace and contentment.
- Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers --
- Dwelt in the love of God and of man. Alike were they free from
- Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics.
- Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to their windows;
- But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of the owners;
- There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.
- Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the Basin of Minas,
- Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand-Pré,
- Dwelt on his goodly acres; and with him, directing his household,
- Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the pride of the village.
- Stalworth and stately in form was the man of seventy winters;
- Hearty and hale was he, an oak that is covered with snow-flakes;
- White as the snow were his locks, and his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves.
- Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
- Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the way-side,
- Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!
- Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.
- When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noontide
- Flagons of home-brewed ale, ah! fair in sooth was the maiden.
- Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while the bell from its turret
- Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest with his hysop
- Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them,
- Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet of beads and her missal,
- Wearing her Norman cap, and her kirtle of blue, and the ear-rings,
- Brought in the olden time from France, and since, as an heirloom,
- Handed down from mother to child, through long generations.
- But a celestial brightness -- a more ethereal beauty --
- Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession,
- Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her.
- When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
- Firmly builded with rafters of oak, the house of the farmer
- Stood on the side of a hill commanding the sea; and a shady
- Sycamore grew by the door, with a woodbine wreathing around it.
- Rudely carved was the porch, with seats beneath; and a footpath
- Led through an orchard wide, and disappeared in the meadow.
- Under the sycamore-tree were hives overhung by a pent-house,
- Such as the traveler sees in regions remote by the roadside,
- Built o'er a box for the poor, or the blessed image of Mary.
- Farther down, on the slope of the hill, was the well with its moss-grown
- Bucket, fastened with iron, and near it a trough for the horses.
- Shielding the house from storms, on the north, were the barns and the farm-yard.
- There stood the broad-wheeled wains and the antique plows and the harrows;
- There were the folds for the sheep; and there, in his feathered seraglio,
- Strutted the lordly turkey, and crowed the cock, with the selfsame
- Voice that in ages of old had startled the penitent Peter.
- Bursting with hay were the barns, themselves a village. In each one
- Far o'er the gable projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase,
- Under the sheltering eaves, led up to the odorous corn-loft.
- There too the dove-cot stood, with its meek and innocent inmates
- Murmuring ever of love; while above in the variant breezes
- Numberless noisy weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.
- Thus, at peace with God and the world, the farmer of Grand-Pré
- Lived on his sunny farm, and Evangeline governed his household.
- Many a youth, as he knelt in the church and opened his missal,
- Fixed his eyes upon her, as the saint of his deepest devotion;
- Happy was he who might touch her hand or the hem of her garment!
- Many a suitor came to her door, by the darkness befriended,
- And as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her footsteps,
- Knew not which beat the louder, his heart or the knocker of iron;
- Or at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village,
- Bolder grew, and pressed her hand in the dance as he whispered
- Hurried words of love, that seemed a part of the music.
- But, among all who came, young Gabriel only was welcome;
- Gabriel Lajeunesse, the son of Basil the blacksmith,
- Who was a mighty man in the village, and honored of all men;
- For since the birth of time, throughout all ages and nations,
- Has the craft of the smith been held in repute by the people.
- Basil was Benedict's friend. Their children from earliest childhood
- Grew up together as brother and sister, and Father Felician,
- Priest and pedagogue both in the village, had taught them their letters
- Out of the selfsame book, with the hymns of the church and the plain-song.
- But when the hymn was sung, and the daily lesson completed,
- Swiftly they hurried away to the forge of Basil the blacksmith.
- There at the door they stood, with wondering eyes to behold him
- Take in his leathern lap the hoof of the horse as a plaything,
- Nailing the shoe in its place; while near him the tire of the cart-wheel
- Lay like a fiery snake, coiled round in a circle of cinders.
- Oft on autumnal eves, when without in the gathering darkness
- Bursting with light seemed the smithy, through every cranny and crevice,
- Warm by the forge within they watched the laboring bellows,
- And as its panting ceased, and the sparks expired in the ashes,
- Merrily laughed, and said they were nuns going into the chapel.
- Oft on sledges in winter, as swift as the swoop of the eagle,
- Down the hill-side bounding, they glided away o'er the meadow.
- Oft in the barns they climbed to the populous nests on the rafters,
- Seeking with eager eyes that wondrous stone, which the swallow
- Brings from the shore of the sea to restore the sight of its fledglings
- Lucky was he who found that stone in the nest of the swallow!
- Thus passed a few swift years, and they no longer were children.
- He was a valiant youth, and his face, like the face of the morning,
- Gladdened the earth with its light and ripened through into action.
- She was a woman now, with the heart and hopes of a woman.
- "Sunshine of Saint Eulalie" was she called; for that was the sunshine
- Which, as the farmers believed, would load their orchards with apples;
- She, too, would bring to her husband's house delight and abundance,
- Filling it full of love and the ruddy faces of children.
to Part I, Canto II.