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The Modern Hiawatha -- George A Strong

       
(Poem #559) The Modern Hiawatha
 He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
 Of the skin he made him mittens,
 Made them with the fur side inside,
 Made them with the skin side outside.
 He, to get the warm side inside,
 Put the inside skin side outside.
 He, to get the cold side outside,
 Put the warm side fur side inside.
 That's why he put the fur side inside,
 Why he put the skin side outside,
 Why he turned them inside outside.
-- George A Strong
Yesterday, Martin wrote: "In some poems, though (Longfellow's 'Hiawatha' is
probably the most famous example) the form (and, in particular, the metre)
stands out quite independent of the poem's contents, and is often what the
reader carries away as his chief impression of the poem (for instance, I
could write a Hiawatha parody far more easily than I could quote much of the
actual verse)".

Truth to tell, 'Parodies of Hiawatha' probably qualifies as a poetic genre
in itself... today's offering is merely one of my favourite examples
thereof. Beyond that, there's really not much more I can say, is there?

thomas.

[Links]

The complete 'Song of Hiawatha' is rather long; you can find it at
[broken link] http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/hiawatha.html

An extract, 'Hiawatha's Departure', has featured an the Minstrels; it's
archived at poem #362

In the commentary accompanying that extract, I mention another of my
favourite Hiawatha spinoffs, Carroll's hilarious 'Hiawatha's Photography'.
You can read it (along with some wonderful illustrations by Arthur Frost) at
http://www.people.virginia.edu/~bhs2u/carroll/hia.html

64 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

John Baden said...

I had a teacher back in the fifties that made us read this poem. Each
student had to read one line. You can imagine how funny that was to us
12 yr olds. The other night I dreamt about that and remembered to look
for the poem.. Thanks for making it available. GO TIGERS

Judi Jarman said...

I also had to learn this poem, back in early 1960s. Recently I came across a volume of Longfellow's poems. I looked everywhere for that strange contortion of skin side outside , fur inside in his poems and couldn't find it anywhere although the style is very similar. I was delighted to come across Strong's poem, the one that I remember. Thank you, you've taken me back nearly 40 years.
Judi J NZ

Robert F. Jaffe said...

No one seems to have mentioned what I think I
heard or read forty years ago, that the metre
of "Hiawatha" was based on Finnish folk
poetry, among the many rather obscure and
arcane forms studied by Longfellow. Surely a
metre and rhythm this strange, compared to
any prior English language poetry, had to be
imported from something relatively far away,
like Finnish folk poetry.

R. Jaffe

David Minott said...

I too, have been searching for "skin side inside" for many moons.
While visiting my Aunt (about 50 years ago!) she would open the drawer of a table in her living room, and extract a book. She would then (in all seriousness) proceed to read Strong's parody, which, naturally, tickled our "funny bones." I wonder what book she cherished so dearly!

Dave

Robert Sayer said...

My Mother used to recite another version of Old Nokomis' Mittens to me
about 1930. We could go visit Minnihaha Falls, Manitou Island and White
Bear Lake. It seemed to me it was a folk rhyme. When was Strong's
version written or did he just record a folk story?

Edward Elliott said...

I learned this poem as a 10 year old and have looked for it recently to bring along to a 'recital' dinner party as I so loved it. I remembered enough of the verse, but you supplied the rest - thanks so much Michele Elliott

Jim Rudnick said...

I first came across this poem in high school English class back in the mid sixties. We had to memorize it and then recite it in front of the class. You can just imagine what that was like. I've never forgotten it. Thanks for the memory.

Jim

Peter Sklar said...

I believe there is an error.

You say

He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.
He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the inside skin side outside.
He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That's why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.

I think it should be

He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.

He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the cold side skin side outside.

He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That's why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.

PEPPERPACK said...

It's been a long time since I saw it, but I think Victor McLaglen (as
Irish Sgt. "Mac" MacChesney) did a fine rendition of this parody in the
1939 film "Gunga Din" with Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Sam
Jaffe. Perhaps it was in another of his trademark "Irish sergeant" film
rôles.

Steven Chostler
Denver, Colorado

Nick Prior said...

Always my childrens favorite, (although they knew not Hiawatha.)

alex said...

I hate to tell you but this is not entirely yours.
I first encountered (the bulk of it) in the early? 60's in one of my
father's joke-books, during my childhood in Upstate New York. some toast
master thing he had. nice touches though.
Best wishes,
Alex Brunel (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Anne Awh - Early Stuff Productions said...

----------------------------------------------
Anne
www.earlystuffproductions.com
-----------------------------------------------
I have used my own version of this Strong parody to remember how
to set tulip bulbs in a pot:

Plant them with the flat side outside
Put them with the round side inside

Never knew it wasn't original Longfellow until today.

Marv C.

Mary DeCarlo said...

I am wondering if Judi Jarman who responded to this Web Site used to
live in Fairfax, VA. Mary

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write my essay said...

I hate to tell you but this is not entirely yours.
I first encountered (the bulk of it) in the early? 60's in one of my
father's joke-books, during my childhood in Upstate New York. some toast
master thing he had. nice touches though.
Best wishes,

Thesis Writing Service said...

Always my childrens favorite, (although they knew not Hiawatha.)

Adult Dating said...

I learned this poem as a 10 year old and have looked for it recently to bring along to a 'recital' dinner party as I so loved it. I remembered enough of the verse, but you supplied the rest - thanks so much Michele Elliott

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