The Song of Hiawatha

  • by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Narrated by William Hootkins
  • 4 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Longfellow's great narrative poem has been unjustly neglected in recent years though it gives a sympathetic portrait especially of Hiawatha, reared by Nokomis, daughter of the Moon, and his bride Minehaha.
It is famously underpinned by its hypnotic rhythm, which makes it ideal listening.


Audible Editor Reviews

For many readers, William Hootkins's narration of Longfellow's classic nineteenth-century poem will evoke memories of elementary or middle school. Longfellow's extended narrative is set in a regular, easily recognized rhythm. This rhythm guides Hootkins's delivery, as this is more of a performance than a simple narration. He powerfully underscores the moments of import, giving the impression of a traditional storyteller revisiting a familiar piece. The one weakness in Hootkins's performance may come from matching Longfellow's poetry too closely. At times, the poem seems to drive on in the same vein for too long, with too many attempts at peak moments.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

More fascinating than I expected

I bought this audio mainly because I was going to Alaska, wanted SOMEthing about Native Americans, and had never read it in high school, so I thought listening to it would be less painful than reading it. To my surprise, it turns out to be a fascinating string of legends about the mythical Hiawatha, his coming of age, taking a wife, enduring hardships, and his eventual leaving his tribe for an unknown land.

The author's skill in telling these stories within the poetic meter is matched by the narrator's ability to read the poetry in a very natural way, making the listener almost forget that the beauty of the words falls always within the meter. Any literature student assigned this poem should listen to this version, to really appreciate the best in American poery.
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- Doris

The narrator is amazing

It is difficult to think of a narrator better suited for The Song of Hiawatha than the late, great William Hootkins. I believe he reads the poem almost better than it's written, with such feeling, grace and timing, perfect pathos and emotion. And the poem? It's enchanting, with its clear, hypnotic meter. It evokes a clear sensation of an ancient, hallowed story, of an ancient native legend. Sure, it's parodied quite widely (I myself am almost tempted to compose this humble comment in trochaic tetrameter) but it doesn't really matter.

Very highly recommended.
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- Erez

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-05-2005
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks