Oil on Canvas, Detail of larger portrait portrait
American Poet 1807 – 1882.
A man of great ferocious tempo and histories. Still one of the most popular of our poets: Hiawatha, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, etc.
Henry Longfellow lived almost fifty years of his life while Queen Victoria ruled Britain from 1837 – 1901. There may have been some concentrated American effort to stand apart by lauding our pioneers and savage North America, and it sure wasn’t thwarted by being politically correct. Imagine while high tea was being mimicked on Park Avenue, this famous yankee poet had the courage to come up with the swashbuckling but doomed fantasy (loosely based on history c.1400) that started on the shores of Gitche Gumee, progressed to Daughter of the Moon Nokomis and right up and into the shining Big Sea Water! It was an instant & roaring success. Enough feathers were ruffled to make parodies galore, but it’s 125 years later and I’m not the only one who still remembers Longfellow’s words and wants a feather in my braid. The story teller poets were marvelous conjurers, Longfellow one of the best.
I met Nokomis when I was about seven years old and longed to make that birch bark canoe, moonlight, and woody adventureland my own. And Longfellow’s incredible epic of courage, mysticism, language, wildlife, and natives on these shores remain about one of the greatest tributes to Indian nations ever composed by anybody.
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