This is a long one, so check out the full poem here.
And now for something completely different: a group of exiled Acadians is rowing a boat down the Mississippi, sometime in May. Among them is Evangeline and the priest (Father Felician).
The group makes its way down the river, camping along the riverbed at night, until they come to a level land with lots of plantations and "n****-cabins" (read: slave quarters) (762). They wind up in the Bayou of Plaquemine (in modern-day Louisiana), a place of sluggish waters, cypress trees, herons, and owls. The Acadians have a bad feeling about this place, but Evangeline is encouraged by the possibility that she might find Gabriel here.
One of the boatmen blows a bugle to signal the shore, but there's no reply. They row on through the night.
Before noon the next day, they make it to the Atchafalaya River and moor their boat on the riverbank. They disembark and make camp, tired from traveling through the night. They all hit the hay, but before she falls asleep Evangeline notices that the vines hanging in the trees remind her of Jacob's ladder (which leads to heaven). She feels a lot better.
Meanwhile, a smaller boat is passing nearby. It's rowed by hunters and trappers and among them is—wait for it—Gabriel. The boat rows right past Evangeline's group, but a bunch of trees block their view (d'oh!).
After Gabriel and crew disappear into the distance, Evangeline decides that it's time to wake up (too late). She tells Father Felician that she feels like Gabriel is near, but wonders if she's crazy for thinking so. The priest says no way: he's bound to be in one of the nearby towns (St. Maur or St. Martin) in the "Eden of Louisiana" (862).
The group continues on their way in the boat, getting nearer to their destination. As they do, the wild song of the mockingbird greets them and soon they see smoke and hear cattle.