Since its release in 1847, Longfellow’s epic poem, “Evangeline,” has shaped the image of Louisiana Acadians throughout the world. This poetry has had a persuasive influence in defining both Acadian history and identity. It tells a story of loss and separation by expulsion from a homeland deeply seated in community and culture. It tells a story that brought the Acadian people to Louisiana and established the basis for the Cajun culture.
Not unlike the displacement from Hurricanes Katrina and the BP oil spill, that forced the expulsion of thousands of Louisiana residents, the plight of many citizens of Louisiana is similar. The resiliency and devotion of the heroine, Evangeline associates this eighteenth-century story with the 21st-century exile from these current tragedies. The Acadian's real legacy and inheritance of displacement continue, threatening the culture and way of life much like Evangeline and her Acadians.
Representing the beloved poem through subjective and interpretive imagery honors both Longfellow’s poem as well as the people of Louisiana who have embedded its essence into their oral tradition as an illustration of faithfulness, devotion, perseverance, community, and above all, faith.
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