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My favorite narrative poem, Evangeline, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, beautifully illustrates the theory of iconic realism. Longfellow writes of an iconic love between two Acadian villagers, separated by imperialistic orders of the British military.
As the two lovers set off on their lifelong quest, alone yet jointly searching through the American wilderness with hope of an eventual reunion, the audience becomes aware of diminishing cultures across this vast continent as one community gains control over another with little regard for cultural tolerance. In the final stanza of this epic poem, Longfellow illustrates that a culture, like love, may go through changes, but with God's gift of human perseverance, both a culture and love will prevail:
Side by side, in their nameless graves, the lovers are sleeping.
Under the humble walls of the little Catholic churchyard,
In the heart of the city, they lie, unknown and unnoticed;
Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing beside them,
Thousands of throbbing hearts, where theirs are at rest and forever,
Thousands of aching brains, where theirs no longer are busy,
Thousands of toiling hands, where theirs have ceased from their labors,
Thousands of weary feet, where theirs have completed their journey!
Still stands the forest primeval; but under the shade of its branches
Dwells another race, with other customs and language.
Only along the shore of the mournful and misty Atlantic
Linger a few Acadian peasants, whose fathers from exile
Wandered back to their native land to die in its bosom;
In the fisherman's cot the wheel and the loom are still busy;
Maidens still wear their Norman caps and their kirtles of homespun,
And by the evening fire repeat Evangeline's story,
While from its rocky caverns the deep-voiced, neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
(Longfellow, Evangeline, Part II, Canto V)