Part the First:
Part the Second:
A Tale of Arcadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Part the First
- PLEASANTLY rose next morn the sun on the village of Grand-Pré.
- Pleasantly gleamed in the soft, sweet air the Basin of Minas,
- Where the ships, with their wavering shadows, were riding at anchor.
- Life had long been astir in the village, and clamorous labor
- Knocked with its hundred hands at the golden gates of the morning.
- Now from the country around, from the farms and the neighboring hamlets,
- Came in their holiday dresses the blithe Acadian peasants.
- Many a glad good-morrow and jocund laugh from the young folk
- Made the bright air brighter, as up from the numerous meadows,
- Where no path could be seen but the track of wheels in the greensward,
- Group after group appeared, and joined, or passed on the highway.
- Long ere noon, in the village all sounds of labor were silenced.
- Sat in the cheerful sun, and rejoiced and gossiped together,
- Every house was an inn, where all were welcomed and feasted;
- For with this simple people, who lived like brothers together,
- All things were held in common, and what one had was another's.
- Yet under Benedict's roof hospitality seemed more abundant:
- For Evangeline stood among the guests of her father;
- Bright was her face with smiles, and words of welcome and gladness
- Fell from her beautiful lips, and blessed the cup as she gave it.
- Under the open sky, in the odorous air of the orchard,
- Bending with golden fruit, was spread the feast of betrothal.
- There in the shade of the porch were the priest and the notary seated;
- There good Benedict sat, and sturdy Basil the blacksmith.
- Not far withdrawn from these, by the cider-press and the beehives,
- Michael the fiddler was placed, with the gayest of hearts and of waistcoats.
- Shadow and light from the leaves alternately played on his snow-white
- Hair, as it waved in the wind; and the jolly face of the fiddler
- Glowed like a living coal when the ashes are blown from the embers.
- Gayly the old man sang to the vibrant sound of his fiddle,
- Tous les Bourgeois de Chartres, and Le Carillon de Dunkerque,
- And anon with his wooden shoes beat time to the music.
- Merrily, merrily whirled the wheels of the dizzying dances
- Under the orchard-trees and down the path to the meadows;
- Old folk and young together, and children mingled among them.
- Fairest of all the maids was Evangeline, Benedict's daughter!
- Noblest of all the youths was Gabriel, son of the blacksmith!
- So passed the morning away. And lo! with a summons sonorous
- Sounded the bell from its tower, and over the meadows a drum beat.
- Thronged ere long was the church with men. Without, in the churchyard,
- Waited the women. They stood by the graves, and hung on the headstones
- Garlands of autumn leaves and evergreens fresh from the forest.
- Then came the guard from the ships, and marching proudly among them
- Entered the sacred portal. With loud and dissonant clangor
- Echoed the sound of their brazen drums from ceiling and casement --
- Echoed a moment only, and slowly the ponderous portal,
- Closed, and in silence the crowd awaited the will of the soldiers.
- Then uprose their commander, and spake from the steps of the altar,
- Holding aloft in his hands, with its seals, the royal commission.
- "You are convened this day," he said, "by his Majesty's orders.
- Clement and kind has he been; but how you have answered his kindness,
- Let your own hearts reply! To my natural make and my temper
- Painful the task is I do, which to you I know must be grievous.
- Yet must I bow and obey, and deliver the will of our monarch;
- Namely, that all your lands, and dwellings, and cattle of all kinds
- Forfeited be to the crown; and that you yourselves from this province
- Be transported to other lands. God grant you may dwell there
- Ever as faithful subjects, a happy and peaceable people!
- Prisoners now I declare you; for such is his Majesty's pleasure!"
- As, when the air is serene in the sultry solstice of summer,
- Suddenly gathers a storm, and the deadly sling of the hailstones
- Beats down the farmer's corn in the field and shatters his windows,
- Hiding the sun, and strewing the ground with thatch from the house-roofs,
- Bellowing fly the herds, and seek to break their inclosures;
- So on the hearts of the people descended the words of the speaker.
- Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonder, and then rose
- Louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger,
- And, by one impulse moved, they madly rushed to the doorway.
- Vain was the hope of escape; and cries and fierce imprecations
- Rang through the house of prayer; and high o'er the heads of the others
- Rose, with his arms uplifted, the figure of Basil the blacksmith,
- As, on a stormy sea, a spar is tossed by the billows.
- Flushed was his face and distorted with passion, and wildly he shouted --
- "Down with the tyrants of England! we never have sworn them allegiance!
- Death to these foreign soldiers, who seize on our homes and our harvests!"
- More he fain would have said, but the merciless hand of a soldier
- Smote him upon the mouth, and dragged him down to the pavement.
- In the midst of the strife and tumult of angry contention,
- Lo! the door of the chancel opened, and Father Felician
- Entered, with serious mien, and ascended the steps of the altar.
- Raising his reverend hand, with a gesture he awed into silence
- All that clamorous throng; and thus he spake to his people;
- Deep were his tones and solemn; in accents measured and mournful
- Spake he, as, after the tocsin's alarum, distinctly the clock strikes.
- "What is this that ye do, my children? what madness has seized you?
- Forty years of my life have I labored among you, and taught you,
- Not in word alone, but in deed, to love one another!
- Is this the fruit of my toils, of my vigils and prayers and privations?
- Have you so soon forgotten all lessons of love and forgiveness?
- This is the house of the Prince of Peace, and would you profane it
- Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred?
- Lo! where the crucified Christ from His cross is gazing upon you!
- See! in those sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion!
- Hark! how those lips still repeat the prayer, 'O Father, forgive them!'
- Let us repeat that prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us,
- Let us repeat it now, and say, 'O Father, forgive them!'"
- Few were his words of rebuke, but deep in the hearts of his people
- Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded that passionate outbreak;
- And they repeated his prayer, and said, "O Father, forgive them!"
- Then came the evening service. The tapers gleamed from the altar.
- Fervent and deep was the voice of the priest, and the people responded,
- Not with their lips alone, but their hearts; and the Ave Maria
- Sang they, and fell on their knees, and their souls, with devotion translated,
- Rose on the ardor of prayer, like Elijah ascending to heaven.
- Meanwhile had spread in the village the tidings of ill, and on all sides
- Wandered, wailing, from house to house the women and children.
- Long at her father's door Evangeline stood, with her right hand
- Shielding her eyes from the level rays of the sun, that, descending,
- Lighted the village street with mysterious splendor, and roofed each
- Peasant's cottage with golden thatch, and emblazoned its windows.
- Long within had been spread the snow-white cloth on the table;
- There stood the wheaten loaf, and the honey fragrant with wild flowers;
- There stood the tankard of ale, and the cheese fresh brought from the dairy;
- And at the head of the board the great armchair of the farmer.
- Thus did Evangeline wait at her father's door, as the sunset
- Threw the long shadows of trees o'er the broad ambrosial meadows.
- Ah! on her spirit within a deeper shadow had fallen,
- And from the fields of her soul a fragrance celestial ascended --
- Charity, meekness, love, and hope, and forgiveness, and patience!
- Then, all-forgetful of self, she wandered into the village,
- Cheering with looks and words the disconsolate hearts of the women,
- As o'er the darkening fields with lingering steps they departed,
- Urged by their household cares, and the weary feet of their children.
- Down sank the great red sun, and in golden, glimmering vapors
- Veiled the light of his face, like the Prophet descending from Sinai.
- Sweetly over the village the bell of the Angelus sounded.
- Meanwhile, amid the gloom, by the church Evangeline lingered.
- All was silent within; and in vain at the door and the windows
- Stood she, and listened and looked, until, overcome by emotion,
- "Gabriel!" cried she aloud with tremulous voice; but no answer
- Came from the graves of the dead, nor the gloomier grave of the living
- Slowly at length she returned to the tenantless house of her father.
- Smouldered the fire on the hearth, on the board stood the supper untasted,
- Empty and drear was each room, and haunted with phantoms of terror.
- Sadly echoed her step on the stair and the floor of her chamber.
- In the dead of the night she heard the whispering rain fall
- Loud on the withered leaves of the sycamore-tree by the window.
- Keenly the lightning flashed; and the voice of the echoing thunder
- Told her that God was in heaven, and governed the world he created!
- Then she remembered the tale she had heard of the justice of heaven;
- Soothed was her troubled soul, and she peacefully slumbered till morning.
to Part I, Canto V.