The Poem

The poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie (English version / French version) recounts Évangéline Bellefontaine's quest to find her fiancé Gabriel Lajeunesse after being separated during the Deportation. She dedicated her life to searching for her lost love all across America, as far as Louisiana. Tired and old, Evangeline abandoned her search and joined the Sisters of Mercy in Philadelphie, Pennsylvania, where she finally found Gabriel on his deathbed. Gabriel died in her arms and she died shortly thereafter. The author of the poem, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wanted to pay homage to the fidelity and perseverance of women.

Different versions of the Évangéline story have been published and one of the best-known is The True Story of Evangeline written in 1909 by Felix Voorhies. In his Louisiana version of the poem, Évangéline becomes Emmeline Labiche and Gabriel becomes Louis Arcenneaux. Voorhies recounts that Emmeline finds Louis in Louisiana, more precisely under a tall oak tree in Saint-Martinville. Unfortunately, she learns that he has remarried, and she dies of sorrow shortly after. Today, people can visit Emmeline Labiche's gravesite beside the parish church of Saint-Martinville. In fact, the poem, although a work of fiction, has left such a mark on popular imagination that still today, many believe that Évangéline (Emmeline) is truly buried in Saint-Martinville.

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