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'The Song of Hiawatha' (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
'The Song of Hiawatha' is an epic poem set early in the white man's discovery of the New World. It presents an almost Christ-like portrait of Hiawatha who is considered the savior of his people. Throughout the interesting, fun to read, and incredibly long poem, you will find insights into the world of the Ojibway and the Dacotah and other Indians.

I will hereby begin a part by part, in-depth review as I painstakingly reread each part. Feel free to add to anything I say or correct anything that may be wrong as I make mistakes frequently. So here comes the first part.


In the Introduction, Longfellow sets up the rhythm for his poem. From his first lines, the "thunderings in the mountains/with their wild reverberations" are evident. The rhythms remain largely unchanged throughout the poem, lending a simple elegance to the poem. They also make it intensely fun to read out loud.

Several possible questions are answered in this first part. Longfellow says that he got this story from the singer Nawadaha who lives in the vale of Tawasentha. Maybe this true maybe not? I don't know.

You are also introduced to "Chetowaik, the plover, sang them,/Mahng, the loon, the wild-goose, Wawa,/The blue heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,/And the grouse, the Mushkodasa!" Pay attention, because these will pop up throughout the poem.

Longfellow launches into a description of the vale of Tawasentha. The vale is apparently beautiful in all seasons and if it was a real place (???) I would love to live there. This could be to draw the reader in, take up space, I don't really know.

To end out the Introduction, Longfellow gives you a humbling description of his work. These poor words engraved in stone, happened upon in a lonely graveyard by some wandering traveler. "These words of the hereafter." The words of the pathos.

"Ye, who sometimes, in your rambles
Through the green lanes of the country,
Where the tangled barberry-bushes
Hang their tufts of crimson berries
Over stone walls gray with mosses,
Pause by some neglected graveard,
For a while to muse and ponder
On a half-effaced inscription,
Written with little skill of song-craft,
Homely phrases, but each letter
Full of hope and yet of heart-break,
Full of all the tender pathos
Of the Here and the Hereafter;
Stay and read this rude inscription,
Read this Song of Hiawatha!"
Stay and read this rude inscription,
Read this Song of Hiawatha!"


Senior Member
'Part I: The Peace-Pipe'

Well, it has been a while because it has taken me some time to get around to doing this. So here comes the next part. Enjoy!

Part I: The Peace-Pipe

After you've sat through the Introduction, it's time for the actual story...or not. :(

Hiawatha is not introduced until Part III. Parts I-II are events leading up to his birth.

First, we are introduced to Gitche Manito the mighty, the Master of Life as he comes to the great Red Pipe-Stone Quarry. There we see him call the tribes of men together, and lo and behold! a river flows in his footsteps! I wish I could do that...

We next get a description of him creating a pipe from the red stone of the quarry, how he moulds it, shapes and fashions it, and ultimately begins to smoke it. Here we get a couple well known lines:

"And the smoke rose slowly, slowly,
Through the tranquil air of morning,
First a denser, bluer vapor,
Then a snow-white cloud unfolding,
Like the tree-tops of the forest,
Ever rising, rising, rising,
Till it touched the top of heaven,
Till it broke against the heaven,
And rolled outward all around it."

Beautiful description right there.

Now the smoke is rising and across what is now the U.S. the tribes see it and come to the summons. Many different tribes are listed as the assemble. We are told that they are painted and armed for war. As they stand on the plain they glare fiercely at each other, "In their hearts the feuds of ages,/ The hereditary hatred,/ The ancestral thirst of vengeance."

Gitche Manito then stretches out his right hand to "subdue their stubborn natures" and speaks. He asks why they are not contented with what he has given them, with the hunting grounds and fishing streams, why they fight amongst themselves. Then he says be at peace live together as brothers. And:

"I will send a Prophet to you,
A Deliverer of the nations,
Who shall guide you and shall teach you,
Who shall toil and suffer with you.
If you listen to his counsels,
You will multiply and prosper;
If his warnings pass unheeded,
You will fade away and perish!"

Then the Master of Life gives to the warriors a set of instructions. The warriors follow them, washing off their warpaint, burying their clubs, and making peace-pipes.

So something important has happened, but we don't know what yet. That will just have to wait until a few more parts. Next up, a long, and in my opinion, totally worthless part, but beggars can't be choosers.

"While the Master of Life, ascending,
Through the openings of cloud-curtains,
Through the doorways of the heaven,
Vanished from before their faces,
In the smoke that rolled around him,
The Pukwana of the Peace-Pipe!"