Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Longfellow (1855) Illu.

OK I know that Hiawatha is considered a little lame but it is a wonderful read. I found this illustrated 1898 copy in Frankfort Mi. and it is beautiful.
Reading it is purely fun; many of the verses roll off your tongue as if you have read them before. It is simply a pleasure at times.

One has to read the history of the writing and some of the controversy surrounding it but then just leave all of that and enjoy the ride.
I especially enjoyed the description of H building a birch bark canoe; made me want to go out and build one myself... someday maybe.
The etchings are excellent and informative. Longfellow attempts to teach a little Indian language along the way, each chapter is a discrete story within the whole tale.

A strange concept indeed considering it was just before the civil war and during a time when manifest destiny was at it's height of popular national identity. Written by a New Eng-lander feeling sorry for the inevitable, it ends with the Noble savage riding off into the sunset.