Read Evangeline

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, March 27, 1912: I read Evangeline today and found it very interesting. This was the last day of Ruth’s school term. She has so many things mapped out to do, but whether they will ever be accomplished I cannot tell.

Statue of Evangeline, Nova Scotia, Canada (Source: Wikipedia)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Evangeline is an epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that tells the story of an Acadian girl named Evangeline who was separated from her beloved Gabriel by circumstances beyond their control. Evangeline traveled throughout America in search of him. After years of searching she finally found him when he was gravely ill and he died in her arms.

You can find the entire poem on the University of Virginia Library’s website.


Grandma’s sister Ruth was a teacher at one of the one-room schoolhouses near McEwensville. It sounds like this was the last day of the school year for that school. I suppose that the children were needed at home to help with the spring planning. It’s amazing how short the school year once was at some schools.

11 Responses

  1. Wow! Another long poem from years ago – I’m going to see if I can get it on my Kindle so I can read it curled up in my chair…

  2. Hmmm, “interesting” is an interesting word for a 17 year old to use in regard to reading Evangeline. –Just surprised me.

  3. I never read the poem but have heard it on “Old Time Radio” a couple of times and read about the actual event. Tragic. Wonder how many 17 year olds would be assigned a poem that long or read it on their own these days. Probably only those who want to be poets.

    • Poetry used to be so much more popular than it is now. I think that we don’t have the patience to savor every word in a poem–and instead read things with lots of words that are easy to skim.

  4. I remember reading the poem aloud with my classmates when I was in high school, don’t remember which year.

  5. I read Evangeline in 7th grade, spring of 1952. I loved that long epic poem and all the class discussions we had while reading it.

    • I’ve been so busy that I haven’t read the entire poem. Both readers’ comments and Grandma’s diary entry make me feel like I’ve really missed a good read. The next time a have a free hour or two, I’m going to sit down in my easy chair and read it.

  6. […] The school year was shorter a hundred years ago—and length varied a lot between one school and the next.  For example, the school year at the one-room school-house where Grandma’s sister Ruth taught ended on March 27. […]

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