Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Song of Hiawatha

For those that wrote and asked what book I was gifted for Christmas this year, it was the 1855 copy of The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The setting for The Song of Hiawatha is the Pictured Rocks along the southern shore of Lake Superior.

I've spent time along the great lakes and am aware they are the world’s largest surface freshwater ecosystems. From west to east is Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. 

Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes that lies entirely within American borders.

marvel at the Great Lakes picturesque beauty and recognize their vastness and danger. Perhaps that is why I appreciate reading maritime history and the legends along the lakes. 

English writer George Eliot called The Song of Hiawatha, along with Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the "two most indigenous and masterly productions in American literature". 

If you look back at 1855 it was known as a year of conflict between Indians and American Soldiers and Longfellow's text depicts a brave Indian with noble traditions. 

History tells us the storms of 1855 were unusually fierce during September and November and it proved to be a disastrous season for Navigation in the Lake Superior region.  

The Ojibwe Indians knew the area as the land of thunder and the gods. The name for Lake Superior - also called "Kitchi gami" (or "Kitchi-gummi)  is said to mean the shining blue sea water but has also been translated as great water.

So, while I read Longfellow's,  ‘By the shores of Gitche Gume’, Gordon Lightfoot’s song 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' popped into mind. Gordon Lightfoot’s helped define the folk-pop sound with material that is lyrical and moving.  The 729′  SS Edmund Fitzgerald remains the largest ship to have sunk on North America's Great Lakes. She sank in eastern Lake Superior, about 17 miles from the entrance to Whitefish Bay, Michigan, November 10, 1975. The entire crew of 29, many from my home state, were lost

Back in 1855, Longfellow closed The Song of Hiawatha with  Hiawatha launching his canoe for the last time westward toward the sunset where he departs forever. 

If you want more details on Legends in America you can visit this link, and for maritime history check out this link

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