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The Recitation by Norman Rockwell, 1919

The Recitation by Norman Rockwell, 1919

I believe I am due for a poetry post! Seeing as April is National Poetry Month, it is only natural I should discuss this. Last year, I did some random poems and it went rather well. This year I shall continue the trend, starting with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha. In literary terms “Epic” is mere jargon for “long;” very long! It also deals with the trope of a Hero surmounting obstacles, overcoming adversity, and more often than naught, dying for his or her cause. Epics tend to be tragedies, as you might have surmised. They are often written in sections/chapters/parts to make the reading a bit more digestible.

Longsfellow’s Song of Hiawatha is noteworthy because I first heard about it on my mother’s knee. She lamented how even in the 1960s, her class was instructed to memorize sections of the poem to be recited back to the teacher for a grade. Public speaking was horrifying enough without the added pressure of her nearly all-Spanish-speaking class reciting in English with Indian words. However, she loved the rhythm or beat of the poem and remembers the meter, if not the words.
I am cheating here a bit and just providing the link, in part because I fear retyping or pasting all four billion lines of poetry will crash the post.–Oh, alright, four billion is an exaggeration. There are two and twenty chapters/sections of the poem each with 135 lines. The final calculation is 2,970 lines. EPIC!
I challenge each of you to read it out loud (preferably not at work!) and imagine my poor mother in grade school sweating over her 135 lines! It is also a wonderful poem in its own right, length aside.
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