PRECIOUS POETRY: “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth LONGFELLOW (1807 – 1882)

“The Song of Hiawatha”
by Henry Wadsworth LONGFELLOW (1807 – 1882)

Photogaph by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) in Public Domain

Longfellow’s photo by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) in Public Domain

WIKIPEDIA – “The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring a Native American hero. In sentiment, scope, overall conception, and many particulars, Longfellow’s poem is a work of American Romantic literature, not a representation of Native American oral tradition. Longfellow insisted, “I can give chapter and verse for these legends. Their chief value is that they are Indian legends.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Hiawatha

THE SONG OF HIAWATHA (Longfellow)

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations
As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you,
“From the forests and the prairies,
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs,
From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes.
I repeat them as I heard them
From the lips of Nawadaha,
The musician, the sweet singer.”
Should you ask where Nawadaha
Found these songs so wild and wayward,
Found these legends and traditions,
I should answer, I should tell you,
“In the bird’s-nests of the forest,
In the lodges of the beaver,
In the hoof-prints of the bison,
In the eyry of the eagle!
“All the wild-fowl sang them to him,
In the moorlands and the fen-lands,
In the melancholy marshes;
Chetowaik, the plover, sang them,
Mahng, the loon, the wild-goose, Wawa,
The blue heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
And the grouse, the Mushkodasa!”
If still further you should ask me,
Saying, “Who was Nawadaha?
Tell us of this Nawadaha,”
I should answer your inquiries
Straightway in such words as follow.
“In the vale of Tawasentha,
In the green and silent valley,
By the pleasant water-courses,
Dwelt the singer Nawadaha.
Round about the Indian village
Spread the meadows and the corn-fields,
And beyond them stood the forest,
Stood the groves of singing pine-trees,
Green in Summer, white in Winter,
Ever sighing, ever singing.
“And the pleasant water-courses,
You could trace them through the valley,
By the rushing in the Spring-time,
By the alders in the Summer,
By the white fog in the Autumn,
By the black line in the Winter;
And beside them dwelt the singer,
In the vale of Tawasentha,
In the green and silent valley.
“There he sang of Hiawatha,
Sang the Song of Hiawatha,
Sang his wondrous birth and being,
How he prayed and how be fasted,
How he lived, and toiled, and suffered,
That the tribes of men might prosper,
That he might advance his people!”
Ye who love the haunts of Nature,
Love the sunshine of the meadow,
Love the shadow of the forest,
Love the wind among the branches,
And the rain-shower and the snow-storm,
And the rushing of great rivers
Through their palisades of pine-trees,
And the thunder in the mountains,
Whose innumerable echoes
Flap like eagles in their eyries;–
Listen to these wild traditions,
To this Song of Hiawatha!
Ye who love a nation’s legends,
Love the ballads of a people,
That like voices from afar off
Call to us to pause and listen,
Speak in tones so plain and childlike,
Scarcely can the ear distinguish
Whether they are sung or spoken;–
Listen to this Indian Legend,
To this Song of Hiawatha!
Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple,
Who have faith in God and Nature,
Who believe that in all ages
Every human heart is human,
That in even savage bosoms
There are longings, yearnings, strivings
For the good they comprehend not,
That the feeble hands and helpless,
Groping blindly in the darkness,
Touch God’s right hand in that darkness
And are lifted up and strengthened;–
Listen to this simple story,
To this Song of Hiawatha!
Ye, who sometimes, in your rambles
Through the green lanes of the country,
Where the tangled barberry-bushes
Hang their tufts of crimson berries
Over stone walls gray with mosses,
Pause by some neglected graveyard,
For a while to muse, and ponder
On a half-effaced inscription,
Written with little skill of song-craft,
Homely phrases, but each letter
Full of hope and yet of heart-break,
Full of all the tender pathos
Of the Here and the Hereafter;–
Stay and read this rude inscription,
Read this Song of Hiawatha!

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DOWNLOAD: The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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HOW TO START A POETRY EPIDEMIC – by Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)


Cheers, fellow cosmic wanderers! For all of you who thirst for beauty and crave for poetry, I’ve selected some precious words from Joseph Brodsky’s essay “An Immodest Proposal” which might just nourish and enchant ya’. It’s filled with funny and imaginative ideas on how to kickstart an Epidemic of Poetry in our often grayish urban landscapes, pumping up our expressive skills, creative faculties and overall rate of epiphanies. Brodsky jokes around with the plan of widespread production and consumption of condensed human creativity as a means to plant the seeds of collective evolution and linguistic metamorphosis. These excerpts were extracted from On Grief and Reason (New York, 1995, Farrar Straus Giroux), which is truly a pet-book in my personal library and one of the most cherished treasures I brought with me as souvenirs from Toronto’s BMV Books, a place which deserves a ton of heartfelt “bravos!”. Voilá:

 Brodsky“Poetry must be available to the public in far greater volume than it is. It should be as ubiquitous as the nature that surrounds us, and from which poetry derives many of its similes; or as ubiquitous as gas stations, if not as cars themselves. Bookstores should be located not only on campuses or main drags but at the assembly plant’s gates also. Paperbacks of those we deem classics should be cheap and sold at supermarkets. This is, after all, a country of mass production, and I don’t see why what’s done for cars can’t be done for books of poetry, which take you quite a bit further…”

* * * * *

“Moreover, if the government would recognize that the construction of your library is as essential to your inner vocation as business lunches are to the outer, tax breaks could be made available to those who read, write or publish poetry. The main loser, of course, would be the Brazilian rain forest. But I believe that a tree facing the choice between becoming a book of poems or a bunch of memos may well opt for the former.”

* * * * *

“In my view, books shoud be brought to the doorstep like electricity, or like milk in England: they should be considered utilities, and their cost should be appropriately minimal. Barring that, poetry could be sold in drugstores (not least because it might reduce the bill from your shrink). At the very least, an anthology of American poetry should be found in every room in every motal in the land, next to the Bible, which will surely not object to this proximity, since it does not object to the proximity of the phone book.”

* * * * *

“Poetry is the supreme form of human locution in any culture. By failing to read or listen to poets, a society dooms itself to inferior modes of articulation – of the politician, or the salesman, or the charlatan – in short, to its own. It forfeits, in other worlds, its own evolutionary potential, for what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom is precisely the gift of speech. The charge frequently leveled against poetry – that it is difficult, obscure, hermetic, and whatnot – indicates not the state of poetry but, frankly, the rung of the evolutionary ladder on which society is stuck.”

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“If nothing else, reading poetry is a process of terrific linguistic osmosis. It is also a highly economical form of mental acceleration. Within a very short space a good poem covers enormous mental ground, and often, toward its finale, provides one with an epiphany or a revelation. That happens because in the process of composition a poet employs – by and large unwittingly – the two main modes of cognition available to our species: Occidental and Oriental.  (…) In other words, a poem offers you a sample of complete, not slanted, human intelligence at work.”

JOSEPH BRODSKY
(1940-1996)
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Read also some of his poems:
Song of Welcome and Verses in April

bRODSKY

Derrida (2002, Zeitgeist Films) – A documentary by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman

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“DERRIDA is a playful, personal and theoretical portrait of the internationally renowned French philosopher, Jacques Derrida. Best known for originating the movement known as “deconstruction,” Derrida’s radical rethinking of the precepts on which Western metaphysics are founded has deeply influenced the studies of literature, philosophy, ethics, architecture and law, indelibly marking the intellectual landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Produced with Derrida’s full cooperation and consent, the film is the most ambitious cinematic project ever undertaken with a world-class philosopher. Initiated by Amy Ziering Kofman, who studied with Derrida at Yale in the 1980s, and co-directed by Kirby Dick and Ziering Kofman, Derrida is neither a conventional film biography nor a primer on his thinking. Rather, in the spirit of Derrida’s own writing, the film investigates the concept of biography itself and explores the nature and limitations of the cinematic form in addressing philosophical thought.

Braiding together rare vérité footage of Derrida in his private life with his reflections on deconstruction, violence, the structure of love, the history of philosophy and the death of his mother, the film raises questions about the relationship between the public and the private, the personal and the theoretical, the biographical and the  philosophical. It is a rich and moving meditation on both Derrida himself and the themes that haunt and inspire his work.”

DERRIDA BIOGRAPHY

“Brilliant and controversial, Jacques Derrida is one of the most important thinkers of our time, his considerable body of work having ineradicably altered the landscape of thought in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Best known for having formulated a theoretical analysis which is commonly refered to as “deconstruction”, Derrida’s writings on language, rhetoric and philosophy interrogate and challenge the formulations of certain basic precepts of Western metaphysics — precepts such as presence, truth, the position of the subject and nature of identity.

Born in Algiers in 1930 , Derrida immigrated to Paris in his teens to further pursue his studies in philosophy, language and literature, going on after college to earn a graduate a degree in philosophy from the Ecole Normale Superieure and pursue a career in teaching.

His profound impact on contemporary thought began in 1967 with the simultaneous publication of three major works (‘Speech and Phenomena’, ‘Writing and Difference’, and ‘Of Grammatology’) — works which began to articulate his extensive and radical critique of Western metaphysics; a critique which draws, in part, from the writings of Nietzche, Freud, Heidegger, Marx and Levinas. Since this first publication blitz, Derrida has since gone on to publish over 45 books which have been translated in over 22 languages worldwide. His work has been read and disseminated by a broad range of cultures and disciplines, profoundly influencing fields as varied and disparate as art, literature, law, ethics, music, history, architecture and fashion.

Politically active and deeply committed to furthering the course of social justice, Derrida has speculated that his early childhood experiences of intense anti-semitism which, among other things, led to his expulsion from the Algerian public schools at an early age, prompted him to devote his life work to rethinking positions of racism, power, and oppression using his sharp and surprising analytical skills to address the ways in which they overtly and covertly operate. As such his work has opened up spaces of critical thought to a wide variety of cultures and forces informing a wide range of human rights movements.

A lifetime of teaching in both Europe and abroad, (Sorbonne, Ecole Normale Superieure, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Johns Hopkins University, Yale, The New School, NYU, UC Irvine) extensive publications and frequent activist interventions (France, Czechoslovakia, South Africa and the U.S.) have led him to become one of the most cited and influential contemporary intellectual figures. Paradoxically, a person who is at once both extremely private and extremely public, Derrida is one of the most important, profound and intriguing thinkers living today.”

http://www.derridathemovie.com/

Download Jacques Derrida’s Selected Works
A compilation of 60 books (and 50 journal articles)