Monday, December 27, 2010

December 27, 2010

I have spent the last ten days brooding about Evangeline and what she is doing to me.  First off I should mention that I have read and reread Longfellow's poem about Evangeline and her search for her true love.  The poem is a slow read, partly due to the way it was written and partly because Longfellow is such a great wordsmith.  There are these beautiful descriptive panoramas of the pastoral.  For example:
 "Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic
Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended.
There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village."

Then the poem goes into this lengthy description about Evangeline's beauty and promise and potential as the fairest, prettiest, and most capable of girls in her village.  

Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the way-side,
Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!
Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.
When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noontide
Flagons of home-brewed ale, ah! fair in sooth was the maiden.
Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while the bell from its turret
Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest with his hysop
Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them,
Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet of beads and her missal,
Wearing her Norman cap, and her kirtle of blue, and the ear-rings,
Brought in the olden time from France, and since, as an heirloom,
Handed down from mother to child, through long generations.
But a celestial brightness -- a more ethereal beauty --
Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession,
Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her.
When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
Oh how funny, with her "kirtle of blue" and how after she confessed how her passing stuns people and the world into silence.  Oh the cheesy innocence and yet how divine!

So beautiful was she that she was so sought after by all the townsmen that "happy was he who might touch her hand or the hem of her garment.".  Oh the frivolity of simpler times and how it all comes to ruin at the hand of war.  


So now what does this mean to me? What does it mean for Evangeline and the significance of December's dress being named after her.  Well I have been trying to break it down.  What does the search for true love mean?  What kind of metaphor does it present?  Is the story of Evangeline truly a search for love or the discovery of Evangeline herself? Perhaps it is more of a metaphor for the personal narrative?

The myth of Evangeline is more about the history of the Acadie... How does this tie into my project, after all my personal history if we go back, at least as far as in know extends into Mexican, Swedish, perhaps a little German and even maybe MiddleEastern?  The way in which Evangeline allows me to identify with other cultures and historical narratives is perhaps the most interesting lesson I have learned so far.  You see, as I have been fumbling over the question of what is my own personal narrative, I have realized that due to the medium of blogging and sewing and design and even fashion it can be disguised as an number of things.  The possibilities of influence and personal choice within the creation or even myth of the personal narrative is endless, allowing me to create, invent and fictionalize within the truth or limits of my historical truth, my real background that is.   

I think what Evangeline is teaching me is how my personal narrative or even myth becomes empowered by the details or embellishments that create each garment.  This is blowing the whole project wide open and yet again challenging the question is it the dress that makes the woman or the woman that makes the dress? Today I am feeling more of the latter because every time she gets washed, evangeline falls apart.  It is infuriating to me! I want to add more bits to her, but instead I am getting caught up in mending all of her little tears only to face the same consequences the next day and the next.   Perhaps I should just stop mending and her fall apart?  What would happen if i just let her break down? I am reminded of the movie Black Swan, which i saw a day ago and still think of as amazing....perhaps it takes completely breaking down to truly play the part you believe you were meant to play?

Maybe I should use Evangeline as an avatar of sorts and stop mending her imperfections, allowing them to happen and see how far she will take me?   

1 comment:

  1. Longfellow lovingly illustrates the ability of beauty to take on the qualities around it—the eyes like berries, the breath like that of the kine that feed in the fields—and the power to send it back out into the world as she does when she passes through the harvest with her ale, or stops sound as she walks through the village. Your very personal vision sewn onto yourself passes out into public and leaves response in its wake. Like the priest sprinkling hyssop, you affect those of us you walk by, and change our daily story as you stride through with yours. Just brilliant. Elise