Sunday, October 4, 2015
This is the forest primeval
As I hiked yesterday on Mt. Falcon, I remembered the haunting line that opened Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Evangeline:
"This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks..."
I reread Evangeline today and was once again struck by Longfellow's wonderful descriptions, which skillfully evoked human emotion and brought to life long-ago Arcadia and Louisiana.
I doubt that many American schools still teach Longfellow's poetry in American Literature class. My quick Google search of several dozen high schools failed to find Longfellow's work on any English syllabus. As might be expected, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn was popular. I was disheartened to see that Arthur Miller's polemical and dishonest play The Crucible was equally popular. Worse, many English classes devoted significant attention to trendy (and vacuous) topics such as Gender Identification. The Great Dumbing-Down continues.
I urge everyone to read Longfellow's works. In modern America, reading fine literature from America's past has become a revolutionary act. Search for what is true. Think for yourself.