Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Poem Girl

Pretty as a poem

This CDV dated to the 1860s looks like a photograph of a painting or other type of illustration. That was popular for photographers to generate income in addition to their stock in trade. Photographs of famous figures, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, could be purchased at the same studio where an individual might sit for their own portrait. This particular image captured my imagination because of what was written on the back.

Poem Girl Back

A poem from Isa B

Along the right hand side it says “With compliments of Isaiah Black.” The poem goes as follows:

When the dove in eastern lands

Is loosened from its captive chains

How swift it flies o’re desert sands

To seek its own dear nest again.

Somewhere in other lands I stray

Or even cross the troubled sea

My trusting heart will never stay

But fly on friendships wing to thee.

This sounds a lot like Isa B is leaving and wants the recipient to be his friend. Nothing like underlining “friendship” to make sure the message is clear!

Unfortunately, the photographer of this particular piece didn’t use a back mark, and so we don’t know where the studio was located.

UPDATE: Thanks to site reader Juliette Kings, we now know the picture is of Evangeline, heroine of the famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie. The poem was published in 1847 and had considerable impact on both Longfellow’s career as well as culturally, as it tells the tale of the deportation of French Acadians from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755. The particular deportation was centered in Nova Scotia, Canada, but many Acadians made their way south to America, and eventually Louisiana where their culture and language formed the basis of the modern day Cajun culture. In the poem, Evangeline and her lover Gabriel are cast out of Acadia and become separated. Evangeline spends the rest of her life wandering through America, looking for him. It is a truly romantic poem that spans two sections, each with five parts. School children across America were made to memorize parts of it. …this is the forest primeval… It is available for free on Kindle and is only 44 pages long, and is well worth the moment you need to download it.

Further Reading

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Evangeline on the Maine Historical Society website

Overview of the epic poem Evangeline on Wikipedia

Free version of Evangeline to download on Amazon.com

Louisiana State Parks Longfellow-Evangeline Historical Site

2 thoughts on “Pretty Poem

  1. It looks like a picture of Evangeline (of the popular Longfellow poem). Lovely. Thank you for sharing this and the beautiful poem on the back.


  2. IntenseGuy says:

    http://www.hwlongfellow.org/works_evangeline.shtml shows this same photo at the bottom. :)


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