Part the First:
Part the Second:
A Tale of Arcadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Part the First
- FOUR times the sun had risen and set; and now on the fifth day
- Cheerily called the cock to the sleeping maids of the farmhouse.
- Soon o'er the yellow fields, in silent and mournful procession,
- Came from the neighboring hamlets and farms the Acadian women,
- Driving in ponderous wains their household goods to the seashore,
- Pausing and looking back to gaze once more on their dwellings,
- Ere they were shut from sight by the winding road and the woodland.
- Close at their sides their children ran, and urged on the oxen,
- While in their little hands they clasped some fragments of playthings.
- There to the Gaspereau's mouth they hurried; and there on the sea-beach
- Piled in confusion lay the household goods of the peasants.
- All day long the wains came laboring down from the village.
- Late in the afternoon, when the sun was near to his setting,
- Echoing far o'er the fields came the roll of drums from the churchyard.
- Thither the women and children thronged. On a sudden the church-doors
- Opened, and forth came the guard, and marching in gloomy procession
- Followed the long-imprisoned, but patient, Acadian farmers.
- Even as pilgrims, who journey afar from their homes and their country,
- Sing as they go, and in singing forget they are weary and wayworn,
- So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended
- Down from the church to the shore, amid their wives and their daughters.
- Foremost the young men came; and, raising together their voices,
- Sang they with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions --
- "Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible fountain!
- Fill our hearts this day with strength and submission and patience!"
- Then the old men, as they marched, and the women that stood by the wayside
- Joined in the sacred psalm, and the birds in the sunshine above them
- Mingled their notes therewith, like voices of spirits departed.
- Half-way down to the shore Evangeline waited in silence,
- Not overcome with grief, but strong in the hour of affliction --
- Calmly and sadly waited, until the procession approached her,
- And she beheld the face of Gabriel pale with emotion.
- Tears then filled her eyes, and, eagerly running to meet him,
- Clasped she his hands, and laid her head on his shoulder and whispered --
- "Gabriel! be of good cheer! for if we love one another,
- Nothing, in truth, can harm us, whatever mischances may happen!"
- Smiling she spake these words; then suddenly paused, for her father
- Saw she slowly advancing. Alas! how changed was his aspect!
- Gone was the glow from his cheek, and the fire from his eye, and his footstep
- Heavier seemed with the weight of the weary heart in his bosom.
- But with a smile and a sigh she clasped his neck and embraced him,
- Speaking words of endearment where words of comfort availed not.
- Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth moved on that mournful procession.
- There disorder prevailed, and the tumult and stir of embarking.
- Busily plied the freighted boats; and in the confusion
- Wives were torn from their husbands, and mothers, too late, saw their children
- Left on the land, extending their arms, with wildest entreaties.
- So unto separate ships were Basil and Gabriel carried,
- While in despair on the shore Evangeline stood with her father.
- Half the task was not done when the sun went down, and the twilight
- Deepened and darkened around; and in haste the refluent ocean
- Fled away from the shore, and left the line of the sand-beach
- Covered with waifs of the tide, with kelp and the slippery seaweed.
- Farther back in the midst of the household goods and the wagons,
- Like to a gypsy camp, or a leaguer after a battle,
- All escape cut off by the sea, and the sentinels near them,
- Lay encamped for the night the houseless Acadian farmers.
- Back to its nethermost caves retreated the bellowing ocean,
- Dragging adown the beach the rattling pebbles, and leaving
- Inland and far up the shore the stranded boats of the sailors.
- Then, as the night descended, the herds returned from their pastures;
- Sweet was the moist still air with the odor of milk from their udders;
- Lowing they waited, and long, at the well-known bars of the farmyard --
- Waited and looked in vain for the voice and the hand of the milkmaid.
- Silence reigned in the streets; from the church no Angelus sounded,
- Rose no smoke from the roofs, and gleamed no lights from the windows.
- But on the shores meanwhile the evening fires had been kindled,
- Built of the driftwood thrown on the sands from wrecks in the tempest.
- Round them shapes of gloom and sorrowful faces were gathered,
- Voices of women were heard, and of men, and the crying of children.
- Onward from fire to fire, as from hearth to hearth in his parish,
- Wandered the faithful priest, consoling and blessing and cheering,
- Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita's desolate sea-shore.
- Thus he approached the place where Evangeline sat with her father,
- And in the flickering light beheld the face of the old man,
- Haggard and hollow and wan, and without either thought or emotion,
- E'en as the face of a clock from which the hands have been taken.
- Vainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him,
- Vainly offered him food; yet he moved not, he looked not, he spake not,
- But, with a vacant stare, ever gazed at the flickering firelight.
- "Benedicite!" murmured the priest, in tones of compassion.
- More he fain would have said, but his heart was full, and his accents
- Faltered and paused on his lips, as the feet of a child on a threshold,
- Hushed by the scene he beholds, and the awful presence of sorrow.
- Silently, therefore, he laid his hand on the head of the maiden,
- Raising his eyes, full of tears, to the silent stars that above them
- Moved on their way, unperturbed by the wrongs and sorrows of mortals.
- Then sat he down at her side, and they wept together in silence.
- Suddenly rose from the south a light, as in autumn the blood-red
- Moon climbs the crystal walls of heaven, and o'er the horizon
- Titan-like stretches its hundred hands upon mountain and meadow,
- Seizing the rocks and the rivers, and piling huge shadows together.
- Broader and ever broader it gleamed on the roofs of the village,
- Gleamed on the sky and the sea, and the ships that lay in the roadstead.
- Columns of shining smoke uprose, and flashes of flame were
- Thrust through their folds and withdrawn, like the quivering hands of a martyr.
- Then as the wind seized the gleeds and the burning thatch, and, uplifting,
- Whirled them aloft through the air, at once from a hundred housetops
- Started the sheeted smoke with flashes of flame intermingled.
- These things beheld in dismay the crowd on the shore and on shipboard.
- Speechless at first they stood, then cried aloud in their anguish,
- "We shall behold no more our homes in the village of Grand-Pré!"
- Loud on a sudden the cocks began to crow in the farmyards,
- Thinking the day had dawned; and anon the lowing of cattle
- Came on the evening breeze, by the barking of dogs interrupted.
- Then rose a sound of dread, such as startles the sleeping encampments
- Far in the western prairies or forests that skirt the Nebraska,
- When the wild horses affrighted sweep by with the speed of the whirlwind,
- Or the loud bellowing herds of buffaloes rush to the river.
- Such was the sound that arose on the night, as the herds and the horses
- Broke through their folds and fences, and madly rushed o'er the meadows.
- Overwhelmed with the sight, yet speechless, the priest and the maiden
- Gazed on the scene of terror that reddened and widened before them;
- And as they turned at length to speak to their silent companion,
- Lo! from his seat he had fallen, and stretched abroad on the seashore
- Motionless lay his form from which the soul had departed.
- Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless head, and the maiden
- Knelt at her father's side, and wailed aloud in her terror.
- Then in a swoon she sank, and lay with her head on his bosom.
- Through the long night she lay in deep, oblivious slumber;
- And when she woke from the trance, she beheld a multitude near her.
- Faces of friends she beheld, that were mournfully gazing upon her,
- Pallid, with tearful eyes, and looks of saddest compassion.
- Still the blaze of the burning village illumined the landscape,
- Reddened the sky overhead, and gleamed on the faces around her,
- And like the day of doom it seemed to her wavering senses,
- Then a familiar voice she heard, as it said to the people --
- "Let us bury him here by the sea. When a happier season
- Brings us again to our homes from the unknown land of our exile,
- Then shall his sacred dust be piously laid in the churchyard."
- Such were the words of the priest. And there in haste by the seaside,
- Having the glare of the burning village for funeral torches,
- But without bell or book, they buried the farmer of Grand-Pré.
- And as the voice of the priest repeated the service of sorrow,
- Lo! with a mournful sound, like the voice of a vast congregation,
- Solemnly answered the sea, and mingled its roar with the dirges.
- 'T was the returning tide, that afar from the waste of the ocean,
- With the first dawn of the day, came heaving and hurrying landward.
- Then recommenced once more the stir and noise of embarking;
- And with the ebb of that tide the ships sailed out of the harbor,
- Leaving behind them the dead on the shore, and the village in ruins.
to Part II, Canto I.