Study Guide

Evangeline Part 2, Section 5

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Part 2, Section 5

This is a long one, so check out the full poem here.

  • We take you now to Pennsylvania, where Evangeline has at long last ended up. Or, as our speaker puts it: "There from the troubled sea had Evangeline landed, an exile, / Finding among the children of Penn a home and a country" (1258-1259). 
  • More specifically, it looks like she's in Philadelphia. As it turns out, this is the same place where everyone's favorite notary also died. We're talking, of course, about René Leblanc. It seems that just one of his one hundred relatives was on hand to witness his death—sad times.
  • The way the Quakers of Pennsylvania talk (what with all their "thees" and "thous") reminds Evangeline of home and makes her happy.
  • Sure, she's still pining for Gabriel, but after so many years of not hearing anything she's at last able to move on.
  • She joins the Sisters of Mercy (a religious service group), spending her nights in aid of the poor and the sick—those who really need her help.
  • Then, one day, the city is struck by a disease that's carried by wild pigeons. (Remember: wash your hands immediately after giving a pigeon a hug.) Lots of folks get sick and die, but the Sisters of Mercy are on the job, saving lives when they can and comforting others when they can't. It's as if they're all early candidates for sainthood, Evangeline included.
  • One morning, Evangeline is headed to an "almshouse" (poor house) in order to treat the poor, sick people inside (1320). She stops to pick flowers on her way inside and, as she ascends to the steps to the sick room, "Something within her [says], 'At length thy trials are ended;'" (1330).
  • Evangeline goes about tending to the sick and the dying when, suddenly, she drops her flowers and lets out an awful scream. Before her lies an old, dying man whose face "for a moment / Seemed to assume once more the forms of its earlier manhood;" (1351-1352). Psst: it's Gabriel, y'all.
  • Though he's near death, Gabriel can faintly make out Evangeline's scream and her whispering his name. Then he slips into a dream of his homeland, Acadia. Evangeline is there, too (in the dream). 
  • Coming to for a moment, Gabriel tries to say Evangeline's name, but he's too weak. He can only mouth her name silently. That doesn't matter to Evangeline, who kisses him and holds his head to her chest. Soon enough, though, Gabriel dies.
  • The search is over for Evangeline, as her beloved dies in her arms. And yet, her response is to bow her head and utter "Father, I thank thee!" (1380).
  • Our speaker moves on to describe a small Catholic cemetery in the heart of the city (it still seems to be Philadelphia), where our two lovers lie in unmarked graves—bummer.
  • Back in Acadia, a new group of folks have moved in with their own customs and language. Just a few of the original Acadians are among them. 
  • Those few folks spend their evenings sitting by the fire and repeating the sad story of Evangeline. In the meantime, the nearby (Atlantic) ocean "speaks," (or can be heard) and it seems like the forest wails back to it "in accents disconsolate" (with sad voices).
  • And that, Shmoopers, is the no-fun, very sad, "pass me a Kleenex" end.