Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,160 ratings  ·  97 reviews
The infectious rhythm of The Song of Hiawatha has drawn millions to the shores of Gitchee Gumee. Once there, they've stayed to hear about the young brave with the magic moccasins, who talks with animals and uses his supernatural gifts to bring peace and enlightenment to his people. This 1855 masterpiece combines romance and idealism in an idyllic natural setting.
Published (first published 1855)
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Nov 24, 2008 Kelly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Kelly by: myself
I have loved the rhythm of this poem since I was a kid. I could read it over and over and over.
Transported for two full nights into another world. Disappointed that I was not introduced to this at a younger age but also grateful that I've been able to discover it and enjoy it so thoroughly and fresh in my maturity. A poem in trochaic tetrameter that necessitates it being read aloud to fully experience its effect. Simply mesmerizing.
3½ stars. For some reason, I didn't expect this poem to be as accurately grounded in Native American folklore/mythology and language as it was. I like Longfellow's style of poetry, which has a strong meter and rhythm. This epic poem contains Algonquin folklore which is in some places surprisingly similar to Bible stories (for example, Hiawatha's strong friend Kwa'sind whose only weak spot is in the crown of his head can't help but remind one of Sampson). Other sections are more historical, as in...more
I read this to my young kids at bed time. Not enough farts and boogers to earn their endorsement; despite best efforts to not enjoy it, they were almost interested from time to time. I quite like the rhythm and sound of Hiawatha -- if Captain Underpants were written in the same style, perhaps my kids and I would have a happy compromise.

My copy of the book is an old reader a neighbor gave to my mother when she was a kid. I remember, she read at least the famous passage to me when I was a kid and...more
Ευθυμία Δεσποτάκη
Τόσα χρόνια (από όταν το είχα διαβάσει στα Κλασσικά Εικονογραφημένα) νόμιζα ότι ήταν ένα ινδιάνικο έπος. Τώρα συνειδητοποιώ ότι το έγραψε ένας λευκός; Μου χάλασε όλη την απόλαυση, όλη την επιστροφή στην παιδική ηλικία.
"On the shores of Gitchie Goomie, by the shining deep sea waters, stands the wigwam of Nicomus, daughter of the sea." -- is that right? Lyrical, magical; that's what I remember. It was long ago.
Susan Mortimer
Oct 27, 2009 Susan Mortimer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ages 5-105
Shelves: lis-565
Susan Jeffers’ illustrated edition of her abridgement of Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha, is simply astounding. Jeffers notes in her introduction that this is a poem from which her mother read to her as a child: a poem whose “lovely imagery began to enter [her:] daydreams.” She says further that upon re-reading it as an adult, she “knew [she:] wanted to illustrate the section that [she’d:] loved as a girl.” The part of the poem Jeffers chose to abridge concerns the boyhood of Hiawat...more
Listened to Peter Yearsley's masterful recitation at: and read along at:

The writing is a true pleasure but I thought this a little less captivating than Evangeline. Pays sincere flattery to The Kalevala which had richer personalities and was more fantastical.
I have very mixed feelings about this poem. The actual legends and folklore on which the poem is based are fascinating, and an important part of many Native American cultures to preserve. But they don't work very well when not performed as a part of the storytelling tradition of Native American tribes, especially when the compiler uses them to set up a defense of the actiona of white colonists who forced the religions these stories grew out of to transition instead to Christianity. Bleh. And the...more
The other John
This is weird: a modern retelling of ancient tales that is pretty old itself. It wasn't old in 1855, of course, when Mr. Longfellow published his version of Native American folk-tales. It's the epic poem of Hiawatha, the wise and powerful demigod who guides and protects his people and has many an adventure. According to the introduction, Longfellow has been accused of "cleaning up" the original tales to make them more palatable to a Victorian audience. That may be so (I can't tell you from perso...more
I'm sure there's not much new to say about this book, but if you like poetry, this book is one of the more magical and beautiful transportations American literature has ever afforded me. Longfellow takes Native American mythology and weaves it into a story every American should be familiar with. Its hypnotic rhythms will put you in a trance and leave your brain receptive to the beautiful images and metaphors.

It's hard to describe how much I loved this book. It is a real treasure.
Petra X
To gain its full flavour, this is a poem to read aloud. I read it as a child, I read it to my son when I was pregnant with him, I read it to him when I fed him as a baby and for the last time I read it to him when he was old enough to enjoy it. He didn't. He hated it, so my favourite book was put on one side, but every now and again I like to read about the West Wind and Minehaha, Laughing Water.
Worth the time

I found this interesting, but had to keep in mind that it's a romanticized version of Native Americans and subsequent colonization of their land. I am also uncertain whether the terminology and mythology are purely inventions of the author. Yet I'm glad to have. become familiar with one of our country's early poets, and he does spin an exciting yarn, easy to read with its familiar rhythm. No wonder my kid brother had little trouble memorizing a stanza for class! I skipped the poems...more
Overall, this was a very good epic poem that chronicles Native American legends. It has a pressing, easy rhythm that pulls readers along through the poem, although a couple of times, the meter forces a change in the way words are said. The biggest one for me was that "squirrel" was regularly in a position where it had to be read a a two syllable word "squirr-el", which was a bit odd, but overall, the meter was pretty effortless. I especially loved the section entitled "The Ghosts". As an added b...more
Listened to a reading by William Hootkins. Longfellow not only translates into English and records the tales of Manabozho of the Ojibwe, but brings them into verse in a melded American story. The content is sound, but compared to the storytelling of other Native American novels, historical fiction, and oral transcriptions, it falls a little short in delivering the spirit of the tale. Instead it fell a little flat, and the last section was very forced. I also feel Hootkins may have had something...more
Ah, Hiawatha. A name known by all, a poem known by few. It is a poem justly derided, but probably beaten up a bit too much. It is true that this bestselling work (it sold more copies in 1855 than any book of poems sells today, though the nation was one-tenth the population -- think about that!) lacks in-depth character analysis and rhythmic variety.

In his defense, it appears that Longfellow was trying to (re)create an epic/ancient style in the likes of Beowulf, in which character development is...more
Last summer Michael and I traveled in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was wonderful, beautiful country, and we intend to travel there many times again in the future. Throughout the region there are references to this classic work by Longfellow. The day we kayaked on Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, we stopped at the visitors center for both the National Lakeshore and the Hiawatha National Forest and there I purchased my copy of Longfellow's poem.

Back in 10th grade American...more
Joy H.
Added 10/18/13.
I did not read the poem. Instead I watched the film described below. I found the film to be very slow-paced. It was moderately interesting. So I watched it in bits and pieces. I agree with the following viewer comments at Netflix: "Native American life portrayed in a beautiful way in an idealistic setting." ... "Not a bad movie, although the dialog was not very impressive. Nice scenery and had a good message." ... "I only watched this movie because I wanted to see Native hip-hop a...more
Kay Pelham
I enjoyed this thorough telling of the life of Hiawatha, from his beginnings to his fading off into the sunset. I understand that Hiawatha and these events may not represent one specific individual and his life happenings, but I assume that there are many truths of events and legends of these people that are woven into this story. I appreciate the insight it gave into the lives and hopes and troubles of a very real people. There were a few elements in the story that were reminiscent of Bible hap...more
I'm not sure how to even say what I think. First and foremost every time I was reading it, I wanted to read it out loud. It was so beautiful. It seemed a shame to have its sound stifled.

Second, I continually felt like I should be reading it under an oak tree in a big field full of wild flowers. It calls to be read outdoors. Such imagery.

Would I have liked it better if everyone didn't die? Well of course. It almost seems like this transcends what I want from a story. I feel shallow wanting it to...more
Independent Reading: 3nd -6th grade

Longfellow created an epic poem called “Hiawatha”. It is a very long poem for children, so Early recreated it into a shortened version titled, “The Songs of Hiawatha”, that is similar to an anthology. There are excerpts from the poem that are placed in a progressive format of Hiawatha from birth to being a grown man and his experiences on that path. Early’s exquisite attention to detail in her illustrations embodied the Native American culture with an emphasis...more
Jaime Contreras
Okay, I know that every book that is classified a classic is not going to appeal to everyone. Also, I am a huge Native American history student. I read this and was interested in the historical aspect but found it slow at times. Hiawatha is a native American legendary character whose charismatic leadership, oratory skills and bravery made him a legend on the level of Lincoln. Hiawatha fulfilled the dream of The Great Peacemaker by unifying the people of the Iroquois Nation, who shared common anc...more
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A beautiful read .... Many of the myths of the North American Indians in and around the Great Lakes region are told using the song-like syllables of trochaic tetrameter. My mother often repeated the lines :
" By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water..." And was aghast that this classic Longfellow poem was not part of my school's curriculum. So these decades later, I have finally enjoyed this wonderful poem that ought to be read aloud to children at school and at bedtime. Though...more
Russell Kunz
The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Longfellow showcases his prowess in making romantic American literature. It follows the story of Hiawatha, a mythical heroic Native American figure created for the book, and his adventures and trials which he endures for furthering the lives and knowledge of the tribes around him.

While the historical accuracy is debatable this is a must read for anyone interested in the lore of Native American culture.


At the conclusion of the story of Hiawatha, there i...more
Alexander Rolfe
It improved toward the end, but I still think its value lies mainly in the parodies it inspired. For a while it had me wondering if maybe Longfellow wasn't cut out to be a poet.
I had heard and read snippets of this epic poem throughout my life but had never before read it for myself. I was pleasantly surprised! It is quick, entertaining reading, and particularly interesting to me because I live in the land described so beautifully by Longfellow, the great Northwoods of Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

It is neither historically accurate nor strictly faithful to Ojibwe legends, but this is typical of epic poetry, so I don't understand why the poem is not more po...more
Mark Dewey
This was fairly good. It was like a really long fairy tale written in poem-style (although the fantastical elements evinced themselves more so later on). I guess it's more like an Indian legend than a fairy tale, but it feels similar.

Peter Yearsley does an excellent job at narration in this Librivox audio book.

See my post pertaining to this book on the following URL (it's really more of a review than this review, seeing as I wrote it soon after the reading):

Matthew Shoe
This is one of many pieces of literature I've always meant to read. Once I got used to the odd rhythm of this poem, I found it fairly entertaining. I imagined myself back in the 1830's, getting my first taste of Native American culture and mythology. The poem gave meaning to many native words and place names I have heard of but never knew their significance.

A warning to those looking for a happy story: this poem is...a bit somber. But it is well worth it, if you have an interest in things like,...more
Read while exploring the Hiawatha Forest area, including Tahquamenon Falls.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and "Evangeline". He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy and was one of the five members of the group known as the Fireside Poets.

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine and studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a prof...more
More about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow...
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie Favorite Poems Poems and Other Writings (Library of America #118) The Complete Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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“When thou are not pleased, beloved,
Then my heart is sad and darkened,
As the shining river darkens
When the clouds drop shadows on it!

When thou smilest, my beloved,
Then my troubled heart is brightened,
As in sunshine gleam the ripples
That the cold wind makes in rivers.”
“For his heart was in his work, and the heart giveth grace unto every art.” 18 likes
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