Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (Boston, 1847), a poem by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In 1841 he had heard the story of young lovers parted by the deportation of the Acadians, to be reunited only at the end of their lives.
Evangeline statue at Grand Pré National Historic Site, Nova Scotia.

His imagination was the main source for his poem, but he used the work of Abbé Raynal (a contributor to Diderot's Encyclopédie) and of T.C. Haliburton to provide background material. The poem quickly gained worldwide popularity. Its first translation into French in N America was by Pamphile Le May in 1865, but 1851 had already seen its translation into German and Polish, and in 1853 a French translation was published in London. For Longfellow the story was "the best illustration of the faithfulness and constancy of women that I have ever heard of or read." But for many Acadians, especially those of the elite at the turn of the 19th century, it was the true story of their ancestors, "those simple Acadian farmers" who "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." To them it was the poetic distillation of their history, the true legend of their past.

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