Friday, January 31, 2014

Charles Kaufmann of Longfellow Chorus: Longfellow Student Work Sheds Light on Hiawatha at Maine Historical Society Lecture, February 27, 7PM

[Rev. John Heckenwelder (1743-1823), author of "Account of the History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations who once inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighboring States," (1818), a book from which young Henry Wadsworth Longfellow borrowed liberally in "English Dialogue Between an English Emigrant and a North American Savage," (1823).]
The Longfellow Chorus
Portland, MaineFebruary 1, 2014

Alas! The sky is overcast with dark and blustering 
clouds! The rivers run with blood, but never, never 
will we suffer the grass to grow upon our war 
path! And now I do remember, that the Initiate 
prophet in my earlier years told from his dreams, 
that all our race should fall like withered leaves 
when Autumn strips the forest! Lo! I hear 
sighing and sobbing! ‘tis the death song of a 
mighty nation, -- the last requiem over the 
 grave of the fallen.
—from "Dialogue Between an English Emigrant 
and a North American Savage," Henry 
Wadsworth Longfellow. 1823.

At 7 PM, February 27, at the Maine Historical Society 
in Portland, I will be joined by Betsy Sholl, former 
Poet Laureate of Maine, and John Bear Mitchell
co-director of the Wabanaki Center and lecturer in 
Wabanaki Studies at the University of Maine in Orono, 
for a special lecture and reception celebrating the 
207th birthday of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

This fascinating program will recreate a little-known 
student text by Longfellow, English Dialogue Between 
an English Emigrant and a North American Savage 
(1823), which is a transcript of a debate that 17-year-
old Longfellow took part in with a fellow student, 
James W. Bradbury, for the Bowdoin College Junior 
Exhibition, December 10, 1823. In this debate, 
Bradbury presented the views of a seventeenth-century 
English Emigrant in war-torn colonial New England; 
Longfellow took on the opposing role of a Native warrior.

This was the first time Longfellow experimented with 
ideas and themes that would eventually become The 
Song of Hiawatha (1854). As a young man growing 
up in Portland, and spending time in rural Hiram, 
Maine, with its rich native tribal history associated with 
ancient villages along the Saco River, Longfellow had 
long been captivated by the history of Maine's Wabanaki 

In our presentation, Betsy Sholl will read the part of 
"English Emigrant" -- as well as recite several 
additional poems; John Bear Mitchell will reenact 
the part of "North American Savage," and share 
thoughts and perspectives from the point of view of 
a contemporary Penobscot Nation tribal member.

A Q&A session will follow this engrossing and 
thoughtful presentation, as well as a reception with 
birthday cake.

Will Maine Historical Society find a way to fit 207 
candles on that cake?

See you there.

Charles Kaufmann, Artistic Director
The Longfellow Chorus
PO Box 5133
Portland, Maine 04101

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