Chris Uggen's Blog: laughing waters

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

laughing waters

whenever i travel from the minnversity to the msp airport, i try to save a little time for a stop at minnehaha falls.

the falls were a huge attraction in the 19th century, with visitors ranging from thoreau to dvorak to twain. mr. clemens even paused in life on the mississippi to note, "the beautiful falls of minnehaha are sufficiently celebrated -- they do not need a life from me, in that direction."

the falls get a bit less attention today, though tor tells me that the view from the rocks behind the falls is still pretty cool. and if you follow them down for about a 15 minute hike, you'll encounter twain's river, the muddy mississippi. wcco's jeanette trompeter filed a fine local story on the falls recently, noting how they inspired henry longfellow's song of hiawatha, albeit from a distance. yeah, longellow's love story is a cheesefest, but it springs from a tradition dating back to the kalevala, a finnish epic niels ingwerson taught us at the wizversity.

In the land of the Dacotahs,
Where the Falls of Minnehaha
Flash and gleam among the oak trees,
Laugh and leap into the valley.
... And he named her from the river,
From the waterfall he named her,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water.

you can still encounter the lovers hiawatha and minnehaha in minnehaha park. and, speaking of cheesy, twentieth century types such as the sweet revisited similar themes with a 1970s (in)sensibility:

Hiawatha didn't bother too much
'Bout Minnie Ha-Ha and her tender touch
Till she took him to the silver stream
Then she whispered words like he had never heard
That made him all shudder inside

yeesh. seventies pop isn't pretty. with all the recent rain, however, the falls should be cooking now. i'm traveling to give a few talks next week, so i'll try to make a little time for a spring visit.


At 12:33 AM, Blogger Kieran said...

I've always liked Lewis Carroll's Hiawatha's Photographing, and of course there's George Strong's version:

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.


Post a Comment

<< Home