The complete text of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Song of Hiawatha" runs over one hundred pages and is too long to be reprinted here. A much-anthologized excerpt begins: "On the shores of Gitche Gumee, / Of the shining Big Sea Water, / Stood Nokomis, the old woman, / Pointing with her finger westward, / O'er the water pointing westward, / To the purple clouds of sunset."
"The Song of Hiawatha" was published in 1855 and was an instant success. It became one of the best-selling long poems in American history. The infectious trochaic rhythm made the poem a popular choice for memorization, and phrases such as "shining Big Sea water" and "daughter of the Moon, Nokomis" became familiar to everyone. In later years, the poem was sometimes criticized and parodied for its stylized, stereotypical depiction of Native American speech. Longfellow apparently took the poem very seriously and based it on pre-existing legends. The historical Hiawatha was a member of the Iroquois nation. He lived in the 16th century and was instrumental in the establishment of the Iroquois Confederacy that united the Six Nations. Longfellow based his poem on Ojibway legends collected by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who had confused Hiawatha with the Ojibway hero Manabozho.Learn More
The words "may the wind always be at your back" are part of a traditional Irish Gaelic blessing that is also considered a world prayer. The words make up the second line of the five-line poem or prayer.Full Answer >
The speaker of a poem is always going to be the "person" who is "speaking" the words of the poem. While the poet is the one who actually wrote the poem, the speaker is the character whom the poet intends to invoke—sometimes, however, the poet means to write as her/himself.Full Answer >
John Milton's "On His Blindness" is an English sonnet about a man who surrenders himself to the will of God. In it, Milton confesses that midway through his life, he has been rendered blind and suffers great personal grief to the point that his only hope is in the mercy of God. In many ways, this poem is an allegory, in that Milton uses his story to represent universal plight and struggling among mankind.Full Answer >
A long narrative poem is called an epic. These types of poems were used to write such well known pieces as the Iliad and Beowulf. They are normally written in hexameter style.Full Answer >