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JKJ’s HIAWATHA PARODY

David Bagchi has reminded me of the Hiawatha parody subtly included in the last chapter of  Three Men in a Boat when the trio start on their homeward journey from Oxford (Chapter XIX beginning at the bottom of p.303 in the 1st edition). Jerome clearly liked his Longfellow – and in one way owed his success to him, for it was after reading Longfellow’s poem ‘Gaspar Beccera’ from By the Fireside that Jerome had the idea of writing about his experiences as an actor. The result was his first published success: On the Stage and Off. Here’s the parody from TMIB:

The river – with the sunlight flashing from its dancing wavelets, gilding gold the grey-green beech-trunks, glinting through the dark, cool wood paths, chasing shadows o’er the shallows, flinging diamonds from the mill-wheels, throwing kisses to the lilies, wantoning with the weirs’ white water, silvering moss-grown walls and bridges, brightening every tiny townlet, making sweet each lane and meadow, lying tangled in the rushes, peeping, laughing from each inlet, gleaming gay on many a far sail, making soft the air with glory – is a golden fairy stream.            But the river – chill and weary, with the ceaseless raindrops falling on its brown and sluggish waters, with the sound as of a woman, weeping low in some dark chamber, while the woods all dark and silent, shrouded in their mists of vapour, stand like ghosts upon the margin; silent ghosts with eyes reproachful, like the ghosts of evil actions, like the ghosts of friends neglected – is a spirit-haunted water through the land of vain regrets.

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