Part 2 - The Song of Hiawatha Audiobook by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Chs 12-22)

Uploaded by CCPoems on 20.03.2012

Can it be the sun descending O'er the level plain of water?
Or the Red Swan floating, flying, Wounded by the magic arrow,
Staining all the waves with crimson,
With the crimson of its life-blood, Filling all the air with splendor,
With the splendor of its plumage?
Yes; it is the sun descending, Sinking down into the water;
All the sky is stained with purple, All the water flushed with crimson!
No; it is the Red Swan floating,
Diving down beneath the water; To the sky its wings are lifted,
With its blood the waves are reddened!
Over it the Star of Evening Melts and trembles through the purple,
Hangs suspended in the twilight. No; it is a bead of wampum
On the robes of the Great Spirit,
As he passes through the twilight, Walks in silence through the heavens.
This with joy beheld Iagoo And he said in haste: "Behold it!
See the sacred Star of Evening! You shall hear a tale of wonder,
Hear the story of Osseo! Son of the Evening Star, Osseo!
"Once, in days no more remembered, Ages nearer the beginning,
When the heavens were closer to us, And the Gods were more familiar,
In the North-land lived a hunter,
With ten young and comely daughters, Tall and lithe as wands of willow;
Only Oweenee, the youngest, She the wilful and the wayward,
She the silent dreamy maiden, Was the fairest of the sisters.
"All these women married warriors, Married brave and haughty husbands;
Only Oweenee, the youngest, Laughed and flouted all her lovers,
All her young and handsome suitors,
And then married old Osseo, Old Osseo, poor and ugly,
Broken with age and weak with coughing, Always coughing like a squirrel.
"Ah, but beautiful within him Was the spirit of Osseo,
From the Evening Star descended, Star of Evening, Star of Woman,
Star of tenderness and passion!
All its fire was in his bosom All its beauty in his spirit,
All its mystery in his being, All its splendor in his language!
"And her lovers, the rejected, Handsome men with belts of wampum,
Handsome men with paint and feathers, Pointed at her in derision,
Followed her with jest and laughter.
But she said: 'I care not for you, Care not for your belts of wampum,
Care not for your paint and feathers, Care not for your jest and laughter;
I am happy with Osseo!'
"Once to some great feast invited, Through the damp and dusk of evening
Walked together the ten sisters, Walked together with their husbands;
Slowly followed old Osseo,
With fair Oweenee beside him; All the others chatted gayly,
These two only walked in silence.
"At the western sky Osseo Gazed intent, as if imploring,
Often stopped and gazed imploring At the trembling Star of Evening,
At the tender Star of Woman;
And they heard him murmur softly, 'Ah, showain nemeshin, Nosa!
Pity, pity me, my father!'
"'Listen!' said the elder sister, 'He is praying to his father!
What a pity that the old man Does not stumble in the pathway,
Does not break his neck by falling!'
And they laughed till all the forest Rang with their unseemly laughter.
"On their pathway through the woodlands Lay an oak, by storms uprooted,
Lay the great trunk of an oak-tree, Buried half in leaves and mosses,
Mouldering, crumbling, huge and hollow.
And Osseo, when he saw it, Gave a shout, a cry of anguish,
Leaped into its yawning cavern, At one end went in an old man,
Wasted, wrinkled, old, and ugly;
From the other came a young man, Tall and straight and strong and handsome.
"Thus Osseo was transfigured, Thus restored to youth and beauty;
But, alas for good Osseo, And for Oweenee, the faithful!
Strangely, too, was she transfigured.
Changed into a weak old woman, With a staff she tottered onward,
Wasted, wrinkled, old, and ugly! And the sisters and their husbands
Laughed until the echoing forest Rang with their unseemly laughter.
"But Osseo turned not from her, Walked with slower step beside her,
Took her hand, as brown and withered As an oak-leaf is in winter,
Called her sweetheart, Nenemoosha,
Soothed her with soft words of kindness, Till they reached the lodge of feasting,
Till they sat down in the wigwam, Sacred to the Star of Evening,
To the tender Star of Woman.
"Wrapt in visions, lost in dreaming, At the banquet sat Osseo;
All were merry, all were happy, All were joyous but Osseo.
Neither food nor drink he tasted,
Neither did he speak nor listen, But as one bewildered sat he,
Looking dreamily and sadly, First at Oweenee, then upward
At the gleaming sky above them.
"Then a voice was heard, a whisper, Coming from the starry distance,
Coming from the empty vastness, Low, and musical, and tender;
And the voice said: 'O Osseo!
O my son, my best beloved! Broken are the spells that bound you,
All the charms of the magicians, All the magic powers of evil;
Come to me; ascend, Osseo!
"'Taste the food that stands before you: It is blessed and enchanted,
It has magic virtues in it, It will change you to a spirit.
All your bowls and all your kettles
Shall be wood and clay no longer; But the bowls be changed to wampum,
And the kettles shall be silver; They shall shine like shells of scarlet,
Like the fire shall gleam and glimmer.
"'And the women shall no longer Bear the dreary doom of labor,
But be changed to birds, and glisten With the beauty of the starlight,
Painted with the dusky splendors Of the skies and clouds of evening!'
"What Osseo heard as whispers, What as words he comprehended,
Was but music to the others, Music as of birds afar off,
Of the whippoorwill afar off,
Of the lonely Wawonaissa Singing in the darksome forest.
"Then the lodge began to tremble, Straight began to shake and tremble,
And they felt it rising, rising, Slowly through the air ascending,
From the darkness of the tree-tops
Forth into the dewy starlight, Till it passed the topmost branches;
And behold! the wooden dishes All were changed to shells of scarlet!
And behold! the earthen kettles
All were changed to bowls of silver! And the roof-poles of the wigwam
Were as glittering rods of silver, And the roof of bark upon them
As the shining shards of beetles.
"Then Osseo gazed around him, And he saw the nine fair sisters,
All the sisters and their husbands, Changed to birds of various plumage.
Some were jays and some were magpies,
Others thrushes, others blackbirds; And they hopped, and sang, and twittered,
Perked and fluttered all their feathers, Strutted in their shining plumage,
And their tails like fans unfolded.
"Only Oweenee, the youngest, Was not changed, but sat in silence,
Wasted, wrinkled, old, and ugly, Looking sadly at the others;
Till Osseo, gazing upward,
Gave another cry of anguish, Such a cry as he had uttered
By the oak-tree in the forest.
"Then returned her youth and beauty, And her soiled and tattered garments
Were transformed to robes of ermine, And her staff became a feather,
Yes, a shining silver feather!
"And again the wigwam trembled, Swayed and rushed through airy currents,
Through transparent cloud and vapor, And amid celestial splendors
On the Evening Star alighted,
As a snow-flake falls on snow-flake, As a leaf drops on a river,
As the thistle-down on water.
"Forth with cheerful words of welcome Came the father of Osseo,
He with radiant locks of silver, He with eyes serene and tender.
And he said: 'My son, Osseo,
Hang the cage of birds you bring there, Hang the cage with rods of silver,
And the birds with glistening feathers, At the doorway of my wigwam.'
"At the door he hung the bird-cage, And they entered in and gladly
Listened to Osseo's father, Ruler of the Star of Evening,
As he said: 'O my Osseo!
I have had compassion on you, Given you back your youth and beauty,
Into birds of various plumage Changed your sisters and their husbands;
Changed them thus because they mocked you;
In the figure of the old man, In that aspect sad and wrinkled,
Could not see your heart of passion, Could not see your youth immortal;
Only Oweenee, the faithful, Saw your naked heart and loved you.
"'In the lodge that glimmers yonder, In the little star that twinkles
Through the vapors, on the left hand, Lives the envious Evil Spirit,
The Wabeno, the magician,
Who transformed you to an old man. Take heed lest his beams fall on you,
For the rays he darts around him Are the power of his enchantment,
Are the arrows that he uses.'
"Many years, in peace and quiet, On the peaceful Star of Evening
Dwelt Osseo with his father; Many years, in song and flutter,
At the doorway of the wigwam,
Hung the cage with rods of silver, And fair Oweenee, the faithful,
Bore a son unto Osseo, With the beauty of his mother,
With the courage of his father.
"And the boy grew up and prospered, And Osseo, to delight him,
Made him little bows and arrows, Opened the great cage of silver,
And let loose his aunts and uncles,
All those birds with glossy feathers, For his little son to shoot at.
"Round and round they wheeled and darted, Filled the Evening Star with music,
With their songs of joy and freedom; Filled the Evening Star with splendor,
With the fluttering of their plumage;
Till the boy, the little hunter, Bent his bow and shot an arrow,
Shot a swift and fatal arrow, And a bird, with shining feathers,
At his feet fell wounded sorely.
"But, O wondrous transformation! 'T was no bird he saw before him!
'T was a beautiful young woman, With the arrow in her bosom!
"When her blood fell on the planet, On the sacred Star of Evening,
Broken was the spell of magic, Powerless was the strange enchantment,
And the youth, the fearless bowman,
Suddenly felt himself descending, Held by unseen hands, but sinking
Downward through the empty spaces, Downward through the clouds and vapors,
Till he rested on an island,
On an island, green and grassy, Yonder in the Big-Sea-Water.
"After him he saw descending All the birds with shining feathers,
Fluttering, falling, wafted downward, Like the painted leaves of Autumn;
And the lodge with poles of silver,
With its roof like wings of beetles, Like the shining shards of beetles,
By the winds of heaven uplifted, Slowly sank upon the island,
Bringing back the good Osseo, Bringing Oweenee, the faithful.
"Then the birds, again transfigured, Reassumed the shape of mortals,
Took their shape, but not their stature; They remained as Little People,
Like the pygmies, the Puk-Wudjies,
And on pleasant nights of Summer, When the Evening Star was shining,
Hand in hand they danced together On the island's craggy headlands,
On the sand-beach low and level.
"Still their glittering lodge is seen there, On the tranquil Summer evenings,
And upon the shore the fisher Sometimes hears their happy voices,
Sees them dancing in the starlight!"
When the story was completed, When the wondrous tale was ended,
Looking round upon his listeners, Solemnly Iagoo added:
"There are great men, I have known such,
Whom their people understand not, Whom they even make a jest of,
Scoff and jeer at in derision. From the story of Osseo
Let them learn the fate of jesters!"
All the wedding guests delighted Listened to the marvellous story,
Listened laughing and applauding, And they whispered to each other:
"Does he mean himself, I wonder? And are we the aunts and uncles?"
Then again sang Chibiabos, Sang a song of love and longing,
In those accents sweet and tender, In those tones of pensive sadness,
Sang a maiden's lamentation For her lover, her Algonquin.
"When I think of my beloved, Ah me! think of my beloved,
When my heart is thinking of him, O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"Ah, me! when I parted from him, Round my neck he hung the wampum,
As a pledge, the snow-white wampum, O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"I will go with you, he whispered, Ah me! to your native country;
Let me go with you, he whispered, O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"Far away, away, I answered, Very far away, I answered,
Ah me! is my native country, O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"When I looked back to behold him, Where we parted, to behold him,
After me he still was gazing, O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"By the tree he still was standing, By the fallen tree was standing,
That had dropped into the water, O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"When I think of my beloved, Ah me! think of my beloved,
When my heart is thinking of him, O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!"
Such was Hiawatha's Wedding, Such the dance of Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Such the story of Iagoo, Such the songs of Chibiabos;
Thus the wedding banquet ended,
And the wedding guests departed, Leaving Hiawatha happy
With the night and Minnehaha.
Sing, O song of Hiawatha, Of the happy days that followed,
In the land of the Ojibways, In the pleasant land and peaceful!
Sing the mysteries of Mondamin, Sing the Blessing of the Corn-fields!
Buried was the bloody hatchet, Buried was the dreadful war-club,
Buried were all warlike weapons, And the war-cry was forgotten.
There was peace among the nations;
Unmolested roved the hunters, Built the birch canoe for sailing,
Caught the fish in lake and river, Shot the deer and trapped the beaver;
Unmolested worked the women,
Made their sugar from the maple, Gathered wild rice in the meadows,
Dressed the skins of deer and beaver.
All around the happy village Stood the maize-fields, green and shining,
Waved the green plumes of Mondamin, Waved his soft and sunny tresses
Filling all the land with plenty.
'T was the women who in Spring-time Planted the broad fields and fruitful,
Buried in the earth Mondamin; 'T was the women who in Autumn
Stripped the yellow husks of harvest,
Stripped the garments from Mondamin, Even as Hiawatha taught them.
Once, when all the maize was planted, Hiawatha, wise and thoughtful,
Spake and said to Minnehaha, To his wife, the Laughing Water:
"You shall bless to-night the corn-fields,
Draw a magic circle round them, To protect them from destruction,
Blast of mildew, blight of insect, Wagemin, the thief of corn-fields,
Paimosaid, who steals the maize-ear!
"In the night, when all is silence, In the night, when all is darkness,
When the Spirit of Sleep, Nepahwin, Shuts the doors of all the wigwams,
So that not an ear can hear you,
So that not an eye can see you, Rise up from your bed in silence,
Lay aside your garments wholly, Walk around the fields you planted,
Round the borders of the corn-fields,
Covered by your tresses only, Robed with darkness as a garment.
"Thus the fields shall be more fruitful, And the passing of your footsteps
Draw a magic circle round them, So that neither blight nor mildew,
Neither burrowing worm nor insect,
Shall pass o'er the magic circle; Not the dragon-fly, Kwo-ne-she,
Nor the spider, Subbekashe, Nor the grasshopper, Pah-puk-keena,
Nor the mighty caterpillar,
Way-muk-kwana, with the bear-skin, King of all the caterpillars!"
On the tree-tops near the corn-fields Sat the hungry crows and ravens,
Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens, With his band of black marauders,
And they laughed at Hiawatha,
Till the tree-tops shook with laughter, With their melancholy laughter
At the words of Hiawatha. "Hear him!" said they; "hear the Wise Man,
Hear the plots of Hiawatha!"
When the noiseless night descended Broad and dark o'er field and forest,
When the mournful Wawonaissa Sorrowing sang among the hemlocks,
And the Spirit of Sleep, Nepahwin,
Shut the doors of all the wigwams, From her bed rose Laughing Water,
Laid aside her garments wholly, And with darkness clothed and guarded,
Unashamed and unaffrighted,
Walked securely round the corn-fields, Drew the sacred, magic circle
Of her footprints round the corn-fields.
No one but the Midnight only Saw her beauty in the darkness,
No one but the Wawonaissa Heard the panting of her bosom;
Guskewau, the darkness, wrapped her
Closely in his sacred mantle, So that none might see her beauty,
So that none might boast, "I saw her!"
On the morrow, as the day dawned, Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens,
Gathered all his black marauders, Crows and blackbirds, jays and ravens,
Clamorous on the dusky tree-tops,
And descended, fast and fearless, On the fields of Hiawatha,
On the grave of the Mondamin.
"We will drag Mondamin," said they, "From the grave where he is buried,
Spite of all the magic circles Laughing Water draws around it,
Spite of all the sacred footprints Minnehaha stamps upon it!"
But the wary Hiawatha, Ever thoughtful, careful, watchful,
Had o'erheard the scornful laughter When they mocked him from the tree-tops.
"Kaw!" he said, "my friends the ravens!
Kahgahgee, my King of Ravens! I will teach you all a lesson
That shall not be soon forgotten!"
He had risen before the daybreak, He had spread o'er all the corn-fields
Snares to catch the black marauders, And was lying now in ambush
in the neighboring grove of pine-trees,
Waiting for the crows and blackbirds, Waiting for the jays and ravens.
Soon they came with caw and clamor, Rush of wings and cry of voices,
To their work of devastation, Settling down upon the corn-fields,
Delving deep with beak and talon,
For the body of Mondamin. And with all their craft and cunning,
All their skill in wiles of warfare, They perceived no danger near them,
Till their claws became entangled,
Till they found themselves imprisoned In the snares of Hiawatha.
From his place of ambush came he, Striding terrible among them,
And so awful was his aspect That the bravest quailed with terror.
Without mercy he destroyed them
Right and left, by tens and twenties, And their wretched, lifeless bodies
Hung aloft on poles for scarecrows Round the consecrated corn-fields,
As a signal of his vengeance, As a warning to marauders.
Only Kahgahgee, the leader, Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens,
He alone was spared among them As a hostage for his people.
With his prisoner-string he bound him,
Led him captive to his wigwam, Tied him fast with cords of elm-bark
To the ridge-pole of his wigwam.
"Kahgahgee, my raven!" said he, "You the leader of the robbers,
You the plotter of this mischief, The contriver of this outrage,
I will keep you, I will hold you,
As a hostage for your people, As a pledge of good behavior!"
And he left him, grim and sulky, Sitting in the morning sunshine
On the summit of the wigwam, Croaking fiercely his displeasure,
Flapping his great sable pinions,
Vainly struggling for his freedom, Vainly calling on his people!
Summer passed, and Shawondasee Breathed his sighs o'er all the landscape,
From the South-land sent his ardors, Wafted kisses warm and tender;
And the maize-field grew and ripened,
Till it stood in all the splendor Of its garments green and yellow,
Of its tassels and its plumage, And the maize-ears full and shining
Gleamed from bursting sheaths of verdure.
Then Nokomis, the old woman, Spake, and said to Minnehaha:
"'T is the Moon when leaves are falling; All the wild-rice has been gathered,
And the maize is ripe and ready;
Let us gather in the harvest, Let us wrestle with Mondamin,
Strip him of his plumes and tassels, Of his garments green and yellow!"
And the merry Laughing Water Went rejoicing from the wigwam,
With Nokomis, old and wrinkled, And they called the women round them,
Called the young men and the maidens,
To the harvest of the corn-fields, To the husking of the maize-ear.
On the border of the forest, Underneath the fragrant pine-trees,
Sat the old men and the warriors Smoking in the pleasant shadow.
In uninterrupted silence
Looked they at the gamesome labor Of the young men and the women;
Listened to their noisy talking, To their laughter and their singing,
Heard them chattering like the magpies,
Heard them laughing like the blue-jays, Heard them singing like the robins.
And whene'er some lucky maiden Found a red ear in the husking,
Found a maize-ear red as blood is, "Nushka!" cried they all together,
"Nushka! you shall have a sweetheart,
You shall have a handsome husband!" "Ugh!" the old men all responded,
From their seats beneath the pine-trees.
And whene'er a youth or maiden Found a crooked ear in husking,
Found a maize-ear in the husking Blighted, mildewed, or misshapen,
Then they laughed and sang together,
Crept and limped about the corn-fields, Mimicked in their gait and gestures
Some old man, bent almost double, Singing singly or together:
"Wagemin, the thief of corn-fields! Paimosaid, the skulking robber!"
Till the corn-fields rang with laughter, Till from Hiawatha's wigwam
Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens, Screamed and quivered in his anger,
And from all the neighboring tree-tops
Cawed and croaked the black marauders. "Ugh!" the old men all responded,
From their seats beneath the pine-trees!
In those days said Hiawatha, "Lo! how all things fade and perish!
From the memory of the old men Pass away the great traditions,
The achievements of the warriors,
The adventures of the hunters, All the wisdom of the Medas,
All the craft of the Wabenos, All the marvellous dreams and visions
Of the Jossakeeds, the Prophets!
"Great men die and are forgotten, Wise men speak; their words of wisdom
Perish in the ears that hear them, Do not reach the generations
That, as yet unborn, are waiting
In the great, mysterious darkness Of the speechless days that shall be!
"On the grave-posts of our fathers Are no signs, no figures painted;
Who are in those graves we know not, Only know they are our fathers.
Of what kith they are and kindred,
From what old, ancestral Totem, Be it Eagle, Bear or Beaver,
They descended, this we know not, Only know they are our fathers.
"Face to face we speak together, But we cannot speak when absent,
Cannot send our voices from us To the friends that dwell afar off;
Cannot send a secret message,
But the bearer learns our secret, May pervert it, may betray it,
May reveal it unto others."
Thus said Hiawatha, walking In the solitary forest,
Pondering, musing in the forest, On the welfare of his people.
From his pouch he took his colors, Took his paints of different colors,
On the smooth bark of a birch-tree Painted many shapes and figures,
Wonderful and mystic figures,
And each figure had a meaning, Each some word or thought suggested.
Gitche Manito the Mighty, He, the Master of Life, was painted
As an egg, with points projecting To the four winds of the heavens.
Everywhere is the Great Spirit, Was the meaning of this symbol.
Mitche Manito the Mighty, He the dreadful Spirit of Evil,
As a serpent was depicted, As Kenabeek, the great serpent.
Very crafty, very cunning,
Is the creeping Spirit of Evil, Was the meaning of this symbol.
Life and Death he drew as circles, Life was white, but Death was darkened;
Sun and moon and stars he painted, Man and beast, and fish and reptile,
Forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers.
For the earth he drew a straight line, For the sky a bow above it;
White the space between for day-time, Filled with little stars for night-time;
On the left a point for sunrise,
On the right a point for sunset, On the top a point for noontide,
And for rain and cloudy weather Waving lines descending from it.
Footprints pointing towards a wigwam Were a sign of invitation,
Were a sign of guests assembling; Bloody hands with palms uplifted
Were a symbol of destruction, Were a hostile sign and symbol.
All these things did Hiawatha Show unto his wondering people,
And interpreted their meaning, And he said: "Behold, your grave-posts
Have no mark, no sign, nor symbol.
Go and paint them all with figures; Each one with its household symbol,
With its own ancestral Totem; So that those who follow after
May distinguish them and know them."
And they painted on the grave-posts On the graves yet unforgotten,
Each his own ancestral Totem, Each the symbol of his household;
Figures of the Bear and Reindeer,
Of the Turtle, Crane, and Beaver, Each inverted as a token
That the owner was departed, That the chief who bore the symbol
Lay beneath in dust and ashes.
And the Jossakeeds, the Prophets, The Wabenos, the Magicians,
And the Medicine-men, the Medas, Painted upon bark and deer-skin
Figures for the songs they chanted,
For each song a separate symbol, Figures mystical and awful,
Figures strange and brightly colored; And each figure had its meaning,
Each some magic song suggested.
The Great Spirit, the Creator, Flashing light through all the heaven;
The Great Serpent, the Kenabeek, With his bloody crest erected,
Creeping, looking into heaven;
In the sky the sun, that glistens, And the moon eclipsed and dying;
Owl and eagle, crane and hen-hawk, And the cormorant, bird of magic;
Headless men, that walk the heavens,
Bodies lying pierced with arrows, Bloody hands of death uplifted,
Flags on graves, and great war-captains Grasping both the earth and heaven!
Such as these the shapes they painted On the birch-bark and the deer-skin;
Songs of war and songs of hunting, Songs of medicine and of magic,
All were written in these figures,
For each figure had its meaning, Each its separate song recorded.
Nor forgotten was the Love-Song, The most subtle of all medicines,
The most potent spell of magic, Dangerous more than war or hunting!
Thus the Love-Song was recorded, Symbol and interpretation.
First a human figure standing, Painted in the brightest scarlet;
'T is the lover, the musician, And the meaning is, "My painting
Makes me powerful over others."
Then the figure seated, singing, Playing on a drum of magic,
And the interpretation, "Listen! 'T is my voice you hear, my singing!"
Then the same red figure seated In the shelter of a wigwam,
And the meaning of the symbol, "I will come and sit beside you
In the mystery of my passion!"
Then two figures, man and woman, Standing hand in hand together
With their hands so clasped together That they seem in one united,
And the words thus represented
Are, "I see your heart within you, And your cheeks are red with blushes!"
Next the maiden on an island, In the centre of an island;
And the song this shape suggested Was, "Though you were at a distance,
Were upon some far-off island,
Such the spell I cast upon you, Such the magic power of passion,
I could straightway draw you to me!"
Then the figure of the maiden Sleeping, and the lover near her,
Whispering to her in her slumbers, Saying, "Though you were far from me
In the land of Sleep and Silence, Still the voice of love would reach you!"
And the last of all the figures Was a heart within a circle,
Drawn within a magic circle; And the image had this meaning:
"Naked lies your heart before me, To your naked heart I whisper!"
Thus it was that Hiawatha, In his wisdom, taught the people
All the mysteries of painting, All the art of Picture-Writing,
On the smooth bark of the birch-tree,
On the white skin of the reindeer, On the grave-posts of the village.
In those days the Evil Spirits, All the Manitos of mischief,
Fearing Hiawatha's wisdom, And his love for Chibiabos,
Jealous of their faithful friendship,
And their noble words and actions, Made at length a league against them,
To molest them and destroy them.
Hiawatha, wise and wary, Often said to Chibiabos,
"O my brother! do not leave me, Lest the Evil Spirits harm you!"
Chibiabos, young and heedless,
Laughing shook his coal-black tresses, Answered ever sweet and childlike,
"Do not fear for me, O brother! Harm and evil come not near me!"
Once when Peboan, the Winter, Roofed with ice the Big-Sea-Water,
When the snow-flakes, whirling downward, Hissed among the withered oak-leaves,
Changed the pine-trees into wigwams,
Covered all the earth with silence,-- Armed with arrows, shod with snow-shoes,
Heeding not his brother's warning, Fearing not the Evil Spirits,
Forth to hunt the deer with antlers All alone went Chibiabos.
Right across the Big-Sea-Water Sprang with speed the deer before him.
With the wind and snow he followed, O'er the treacherous ice he followed,
Wild with all the fierce commotion And the rapture of the hunting.
But beneath, the Evil Spirits Lay in ambush, waiting for him,
Broke the treacherous ice beneath him, Dragged him downward to the bottom,
Buried in the sand his body.
Unktahee, the god of water, He the god of the Dacotahs,
Drowned him in the deep abysses Of the lake of Gitche Gumee.
From the headlands Hiawatha Sent forth such a wail of anguish,
Such a fearful lamentation, That the bison paused to listen,
And the wolves howled from the prairies,
And the thunder in the distance Starting answered "Baim-wawa!"
Then his face with black he painted, With his robe his head he covered,
In his wigwam sat lamenting, Seven long weeks he sat lamenting,
Uttering still this moan of sorrow:--
"He is dead, the sweet musician! He the sweetest of all singers!
He has gone from us forever, He has moved a little nearer
To the Master of all music,
To the Master of all singing! O my brother, Chibiabos!"
And the melancholy fir-trees Waved their dark green fans above him,
Waved their purple cones above him, Sighing with him to console him,
Mingling with his lamentation Their complaining, their lamenting.
Came the Spring, and all the forest Looked in vain for Chibiabos;
Sighed the rivulet, Sebowisha, Sighed the rushes in the meadow.
From the tree-tops sang the bluebird, Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa,
"Chibiabos! Chibiabos! He is dead, the sweet musician!"
From the wigwam sang the robin, Sang the Opechee, the robin,
"Chibiabos! Chibiabos! He is dead, the sweetest singer!"
And at night through all the forest Went the whippoorwill complaining,
Wailing went the Wawonaissa, "Chibiabos! Chibiabos!
He is dead, the sweet musician! He the sweetest of all singers!"
Then the medicine-men, the Medas, The magicians, the Wabenos,
And the Jossakeeds, the prophets, Came to visit Hiawatha;
Built a Sacred Lodge beside him,
To appease him, to console him, Walked in silent, grave procession,
Bearing each a pouch of healing, Skin of beaver, lynx, or otter,
Filled with magic roots and simples, Filled with very potent medicines.
When he heard their steps approaching, Hiawatha ceased lamenting,
Called no more on Chibiabos; Naught he questioned, naught he answered,
But his mournful head uncovered,
From his face the mourning colors Washed he slowly and in silence,
Slowly and in silence followed Onward to the Sacred Wigwam.
There a magic drink they gave him, Made of Nahma-wusk, the spearmint,
And Wabeno-wusk, the yarrow, Roots of power, and herbs of healing;
Beat their drums, and shook their rattles;
Chanted singly and in chorus, Mystic songs, like these, they chanted.
"I myself, myself! behold me! 'T is the great Gray Eagle talking;
Come, ye white crows, come and hear him! The loud-speaking thunder helps me;
All the unseen spirits help me;
I can hear their voices calling, All around the sky I hear them!
I can blow you strong, my brother, I can heal you, Hiawatha!"
"Hi-au-ha!" replied the chorus, "Way-ha-way!" the mystic chorus.
"Friends of mine are all the serpents! Hear me shake my skin of hen-hawk!
Mahng, the white loon, I can kill him; I can shoot your heart and kill it!
I can blow you strong, my brother, I can heal you, Hiawatha!"
"Hi-au-ha!" replied the chorus, "Way-ha-way!" the mystic chorus.
"I myself, myself! the prophet! When I speak the wigwam trembles,
Shakes the Sacred Lodge with terror, Hands unseen begin to shake it!
When I walk, the sky I tread on
Bends and makes a noise beneath me! I can blow you strong, my brother!
Rise and speak, O Hiawatha!"
"Hi-au-ha!" replied the chorus, "Way-ha-way!" the mystic chorus.
Then they shook their medicine-pouches O'er the head of Hiawatha,
Danced their medicine-dance around him; And upstarting wild and haggard,
Like a man from dreams awakened,
He was healed of all his madness. As the clouds are swept from heaven,
Straightway from his brain departed All his moody melancholy;
As the ice is swept from rivers,
Straightway from his heart departed All his sorrow and affliction.
Then they summoned Chibiabos From his grave beneath the waters,
From the sands of Gitche Gumee Summoned Hiawatha's brother.
And so mighty was the magic
Of that cry and invocation, That he heard it as he lay there
Underneath the Big-Sea-Water; From the sand he rose and listened,
Heard the music and the singing,
Came, obedient to the summons, To the doorway of the wigwam,
But to enter they forbade him.
Through a chink a coal they gave him, Through the door a burning fire-brand;
Ruler in the Land of Spirits, Ruler o'er the dead, they made him,
Telling him a fire to kindle
For all those that died thereafter, Camp-fires for their night encampments
On their solitary journey To the kingdom of Ponemah,
To the land of the Hereafter.
From the village of his childhood, From the homes of those who knew him,
Passing silent through the forest, Like a smoke-wreath wafted sideways,
Slowly vanished Chibiabos!
Where he passed, the branches moved not, Where he trod, the grasses bent not
And the fallen leaves of last year Made no sound beneath his footsteps.
Four whole days he journeyed onward Down the pathway of the dead men;
On the dead man's strawberry feasted, Crossed the melancholy river,
On the swinging log he crossed it,--
Came unto the Lake of Silver, In the Stone Canoe was carried
To the Islands of the Blessed, To the land of ghosts and shadows.
On that journey, moving slowly, Many weary spirits saw he,
Panting under heavy burdens, Laden with war-clubs, bows and arrows,
Robes of fur, and pots and kettles,
And with food that friends had given For that solitary journey.
"Ay! why do the living," said they, "Lay such heavy burdens on us!
Better were it to go naked, Better were it to go fasting,
Than to bear such heavy burdens On our long and weary journey!"
Forth then issued Hiawatha, Wandered eastward, wandered westward,
Teaching men the use of simples And the antidotes for poisons,
And the cure of all diseases.
Thus was first made known to mortals All the mystery of Medamin,
All the sacred art of healing.
You shall hear how Pau-Puk-Keewis, He, the handsome Yenadizze,
Whom the people called the Storm Fool, Vexed the village with disturbance.
You shall hear of all his mischief,
And his flight from Hiawatha, And his wondrous transmigrations,
And the end of his adventures.
On the shores of Gitche Gumee, On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water Stood the lodge of Pau-Puk-Keewis.
It was he who in his frenzy
Whirled these drifting sands together, On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo,
When, among the guests assembled, He so merrily and madly
Danced at Hiawatha's wedding, Danced the Beggar's Dance to please them.
Now, in search of new adventures, From his lodge went Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Came with speed into the village, Found the young men all assembled
In the lodge of old Iagoo,
Listening to his monstrous stories, To his wonderful adventures.
He was telling them the story Of Ojeeg, the Summer-Maker,
How he made a hole in heaven, How he climbed up into heaven,
And let out the summer-weather,
The perpetual, pleasant Summer; How the Otter first essayed it;
How the Beaver, Lynx, and Badger Tried in turn the great achievement,
From the summit of the mountain
Smote their fists against the heavens, Smote against the sky their foreheads,
Cracked the sky, but could not break it; How the Wolverine, uprising,
Made him ready for the encounter,
Bent his knees down, like a squirrel, Drew his arms back, like a cricket.
"Once he leaped," said old Iagoo, "Once he leaped, and lo! above him
Bent the sky, as ice in rivers When the waters rise beneath it;
Twice he leaped, and lo! above him
Cracked the sky, as ice in rivers When the freshet is at highest!
Thrice he leaped, and lo! above him Broke the shattered sky asunder,
And he disappeared within it,
And Ojeeg, the Fisher Weasel, With a bound went in behind him!"
"Hark you!" shouted Pau-Puk-Keewis As he entered at the doorway;
"I am tired of all this talking, Tired of old Iagoo's stories,
Tired of Hiawatha's wisdom.
Here is something to amuse you, Better than this endless talking."
Then from out his pouch of wolf-skin Forth he drew, with solemn manner,
All the game of Bowl and Counters, Pugasaing, with thirteen pieces.
White on one side were they painted,
And vermilion on the other; Two Kenabeeks or great serpents,
Two Ininewug or wedge-men, One great war-club, Pugamaugun,
And one slender fish, the Keego,
Four round pieces, Ozawabeeks, And three Sheshebwug or ducklings.
All were made of bone and painted, All except the Ozawabeeks;
These were brass, on one side burnished, And were black upon the other.
In a wooden bowl he placed them, Shook and jostled them together,
Threw them on the ground before him, Thus exclaiming and explaining:
"Red side up are all the pieces,
And one great Kenabeek standing On the bright side of a brass piece,
On a burnished Ozawabeek; Thirteen tens and eight are counted."
Then again he shook the pieces, Shook and jostled them together,
Threw them on the ground before him, Still exclaiming and explaining:
"White are both the great Kenabeeks,
White the Ininewug, the wedge-men, Red are all the other pieces;
Five tens and an eight are counted."
Thus he taught the game of hazard, Thus displayed it and explained it,
Running through its various chances, Various changes, various meanings:
Twenty curious eyes stared at him, Full of eagerness stared at him.
"Many games," said old Iagoo, "Many games of skill and hazard
Have I seen in different nations, Have I played in different countries.
He who plays with old Iagoo
Must have very nimble fingers; Though you think yourself so skilful
I can beat you, Pau-Puk-Keewis, I can even give you lessons
In your game of Bowl and Counters!"
So they sat and played together, All the old men and the young men,
Played for dresses, weapons, wampum, Played till midnight, played till morning,
Played until the Yenadizze,
Till the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis, Of their treasures had despoiled them,
Of the best of all their dresses, Shirts of deer-skin, robes of ermine,
Belts of wampum, crests of feathers,
Warlike weapons, pipes and pouches. Twenty eyes glared wildly at him,
Like the eyes of wolves glared at him.
Said the lucky Pau-Puk-Keewis: "In my wigwam I am lonely,
In my wanderings and adventures I have need of a companion,
Fain would have a Meshinauwa,
An attendant and pipe-bearer. I will venture all these winnings,
All these garments heaped about me, All this wampum, all these feathers,
On a single throw will venture
All against the young man yonder!" 'T was a youth of sixteen summers,
'T was a nephew of Iagoo; Face-in-a-Mist, the people called him.
As the fire burns in a pipe-head Dusky red beneath the ashes,
So beneath his shaggy eyebrows Glowed the eyes of old Iagoo.
"Ugh!" he answered very fiercely; "Ugh!" they answered all and each one.
Seized the wooden bowl the old man, Closely in his bony fingers
Clutched the fatal bowl, Onagon, Shook it fiercely and with fury,
Made the pieces ring together As he threw them down before him.
Red were both the great Kenabeeks, Red the Ininewug, the wedge-men,
Red the Sheshebwug, the ducklings, Black the four brass Ozawabeeks,
White alone the fish, the Keego; Only five the pieces counted!
Then the smiling Pau-Puk-Keewis Shook the bowl and threw the pieces;
Lightly in the air he tossed them, And they fell about him scattered;
Dark and bright the Ozawabeeks,
Red and white the other pieces, And upright among the others
One Ininewug was standing, Even as crafty Pau-Puk-Keewis
Stood alone among the players, Saying, "Five tens! mine the game is!"
Twenty eyes glared at him fiercely, Like the eyes of wolves glared at him,
As he turned and left the wigwam, Followed by his Meshinauwa,
By the nephew of Iagoo,
By the tall and graceful stripling, Bearing in his arms the winnings,
Shirts of deer-skin, robes of ermine, Belts of wampum, pipes and weapons.
"Carry them," said Pau-Puk-Keewis, Pointing with his fan of feathers,
"To my wigwam far to eastward, On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo!"
Hot and red with smoke and gambling Were the eyes of Pau-Puk-Keewis
As he came forth to the freshness Of the pleasant Summer morning.
All the birds were singing gayly,
All the streamlets flowing swiftly, And the heart of Pau-Puk-Keewis
Sang with pleasure as the birds sing, Beat with triumph like the streamlets,
As he wandered through the village,
In the early gray of morning, With his fan of turkey-feathers,
With his plumes and tufts of swan's down, Till he reached the farthest wigwam,
Reached the lodge of Hiawatha.
Silent was it and deserted; No one met him at the doorway,
No one came to bid him welcome; But the birds were singing round it,
In and out and round the doorway,
Hopping, singing, fluttering, feeding, And aloft upon the ridge-pole
Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens, Sat with fiery eyes, and, screaming,
Flapped his wings at Pau-Puk-Keewis.
"All are gone! the lodge is empty!" Thus it was spake Pau-Puk-Keewis,
In his heart resolving mischief;-- "Gone is wary Hiawatha,
Gone the silly Laughing Water,
Gone Nokomis, the old woman, And the lodge is left unguarded!"
By the neck he seized the raven, Whirled it round him like a rattle,
Like a medicine-pouch he shook it,
Strangled Kahgahgee, the raven, From the ridge-pole of the wigwam
Left its lifeless body hanging, As an insult to its master,
As a taunt to Hiawatha.
With a stealthy step he entered, Round the lodge in wild disorder
Threw the household things about him, Piled together in confusion
Bowls of wood and earthen kettles,
Robes of buffalo and beaver, Skins of otter, lynx, and ermine,
As an insult to Nokomis, As a taunt to Minnehaha.
Then departed Pau-Puk-Keewis, Whistling, singing through the forest,
Whistling gayly to the squirrels, Who from hollow boughs above him
Dropped their acorn-shells upon him,
Singing gayly to the wood-birds, Who from out the leafy darkness
Answered with a song as merry.
Then he climbed the rocky headlands Looking o'er the Gitche Gumee,
Perched himself upon their summit, Waiting full of mirth and mischief
The return of Hiawatha.
Stretched upon his back he lay there; Far below him plashed the waters,
Plashed and washed the dreamy waters; Far above him swam the heavens,
Swam the dizzy, dreamy heavens;
Round him hovered, fluttered, rustled, Hiawatha's mountain chickens,
Flock-wise swept and wheeled about him, Almost brushed him with their pinions.
And he killed them as he lay there, Slaughtered them by tens and twenties,
Threw their bodies down the headland, Threw them on the beach below him,
Till at length Kayoshk, the sea-gull,
Perched upon a crag above them, Shouted: "It is Pau-Puk-Keewis!
He is slaying us by hundreds! Send a message to our brother,
Tidings send to Hiawatha!"
Full of wrath was Hiawatha When he came into the village,
Found the people in confusion, Heard of all the misdemeanors,
All the malice and the mischief, Of the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis.
Hard his breath came through his nostrils, Through his teeth he buzzed and muttered
Words of anger and resentment, Hot and humming like a hornet.
"I will slay this Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Slay this mischief-maker!" said he. "Not so long and wide the world is,
Not so rude and rough the way is, That my wrath shall not attain him,
That my vengeance shall not reach him!"
Then in swift pursuit departed Hiawatha and the hunters
On the trail of Pau-Puk-Keewis, Through the forest, where he passed it,
To the headlands where he rested;
But they found not Pau-Puk-Keewis, Only in the trampled grasses,
In the whortleberry-bushes, Found the couch where he had rested,
Found the impress of his body.
From the lowlands far beneath them, From the Muskoday, the meadow,
Pau-Puk-Keewis, turning backward, Made a gesture of defiance,
Made a gesture of derision;
And aloud cried Hiawatha, From the summit of the mountains:
"Not so long and wide the world is, Not so rude and rough the way is,
But my wrath shall overtake you, And my vengeance shall attain you!"
Over rock and over river, Through the bush, and brake, and forest,
Ran the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis; Like an antelope he bounded,
Till he came unto a streamlet
In the middle of the forest, To a streamlet still and tranquil,
That had overflowed its margin, To a dam made by the beavers,
To a pond of quiet water,
Where knee-deep the trees were standing, Where the water-lilies floated,
Where the rushes waved and whispered.
On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis, On the dam of trunks and branches,
Through whose chinks the water spouted, O'er whose summit flowed the streamlet.
From the bottom rose the beaver,
Looked with two great eyes of wonder, Eyes that seemed to ask a question,
At the stranger, Pau-Puk-Keewis.
On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis, O'er his ankles flowed the streamlet,
Flowed the bright and silvery water, And he spake unto the beaver,
With a smile he spake in this wise:
"O my friend Ahmeek, the beaver, Cool and pleasant is the water;
Let me dive into the water, Let me rest there in your lodges;
Change me, too, into a beaver!"
Cautiously replied the beaver, With reserve he thus made answer:
"Let me first consult the others, Let me ask the other beavers."
Down he sank into the water,
Heavily sank he, as a stone sinks, Down among the leaves and branches,
Brown and matted at the bottom.
On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis, O'er his ankles flowed the streamlet,
Spouted through the chinks below him, Dashed upon the stones beneath him,
Spread serene and calm before him,
And the sunshine and the shadows Fell in flecks and gleams upon him,
Fell in little shining patches, Through the waving, rustling branches.
From the bottom rose the beavers, Silently above the surface
Rose one head and then another, Till the pond seemed full of beavers,
Full of black and shining faces.
To the beavers Pau-Puk-Keewis Spake entreating, said in this wise:
"Very pleasant is your dwelling, O my friends! and safe from danger;
Can you not with all your cunning,
All your wisdom and contrivance, Change me, too, into a beaver?"
"Yes!" replied Ahmeek, the beaver, He the King of all the beavers,
"Let yourself slide down among us, Down into the tranquil water."
Down into the pond among them Silently sank Pau-Puk-Keewis;
Black became his shirt of deer-skin, Black his moccasins and leggins,
In a broad black tail behind him
Spread his fox-tails and his fringes; He was changed into a beaver.
"Make me large," said Pau-Puk-Keewis, "Make me large and make me larger,
Larger than the other beavers." "Yes," the beaver chief responded,
"When our lodge below you enter,
In our wigwam we will make you Ten times larger than the others."
Thus into the clear brown water Silently sank Pau-Puk-Keewis;
Found the bottom covered over With the trunks of trees and branches,
Hoards of food against the winter,
Piles and heaps against the famine, Found the lodge with arching doorway,
Leading into spacious chambers.
Here they made him large and larger, Made him largest of the beavers,
Ten times larger than the others. "You shall be our ruler," said they;
"Chief and king of all the beavers."
But not long had Pau-Puk-Keewis Sat in state among the beavers,
When there came a voice of warning From the watchman at his station
In the water-flags and lilies,
Saying, "Here is Hiawatha! Hiawatha with his hunters!"
Then they heard a cry above them, Heard a shouting and a tramping,
Heard a crashing and a rushing, And the water round and o'er them
Sank and sucked away in eddies, And they knew their dam was broken.
On the lodge's roof the hunters Leaped, and broke it all asunder;
Streamed the sunshine through the crevice, Sprang the beavers through the doorway,
Hid themselves in deeper water,
In the channel of the streamlet; But the mighty Pau-Puk-Keewis
Could not pass beneath the doorway; He was puffed with pride and feeding,
He was swollen like a bladder.
Through the roof looked Hiawatha, Cried aloud, "O Pau-Puk-Keewis!
Vain are all your craft and cunning, Vain your manifold disguises!
Well I know you, Pau-Puk-Keewis!"
With their clubs they beat and bruised him, Beat to death poor Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Pounded him as maize is pounded, Till his skull was crushed to pieces.
Six tall hunters, lithe and limber, Bore him home on poles and branches,
Bore the body of the beaver; But the ghost, the Jeebi in him,
Thought and felt as Pau-Puk-Keewis, Still lived on as Pau-Puk-Keewis.
And it fluttered, strove, and struggled, Waving hither, waving thither,
As the curtains of a wigwam Struggle with their thongs of deer-skin,
When the wintry wind is blowing;
Till it drew itself together, Till it rose up from the body,
Till it took the form and features Of the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis
Vanishing into the forest.
But the wary Hiawatha Saw the figure ere it vanished,
Saw the form of Pau-Puk-Keewis Glide into the soft blue shadow
Of the pine-trees of the forest;
Toward the squares of white beyond it, Toward an opening in the forest,
Like a wind it rushed and panted, Bending all the boughs before it,
And behind it, as the rain comes, Came the steps of Hiawatha.
To a lake with many islands Came the breathless Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Where among the water-lilies Pishnekuh, the brant, were sailing;
Through the tufts of rushes floating,
Steering through the reedy islands. Now their broad black beaks they lifted,
Now they plunged beneath the water, Now they darkened in the shadow,
Now they brightened in the sunshine.
"Pishnekuh!" cried Pau-Puk-Keewis, "Pishnekuh! my brothers!" said he,
"Change me to a brant with plumage, With a shining neck and feathers,
Make me large, and make me larger, Ten times larger than the others."
Straightway to a brant they changed him, With two huge and dusky pinions,
With a bosom smooth and rounded, With a bill like two great paddles,
Made him larger than the others,
Ten times larger than the largest, Just as, shouting from the forest,
On the shore stood Hiawatha.
Up they rose with cry and clamor, With a whirr and beat of pinions,
Rose up from the reedy islands, From the water-flags and lilies.
And they said to Pau-Puk-Keewis:
"In your flying, look not downward, Take good heed, and look not downward,
Lest some strange mischance should happen, Lest some great mishap befall you!"
Fast and far they fled to northward, Fast and far through mist and sunshine,
Fed among the moors and fen-lands, Slept among the reeds and rushes.
On the morrow as they journeyed, Buoyed and lifted by the South-wind,
Wafted onward by the South-wind, Blowing fresh and strong behind them,
Rose a sound of human voices
Rose a clamor from beneath them, From the lodges of a village,
From the people miles beneath them.
For the people of the village Saw the flock of brant with wonder,
Saw the wings of Pau-Puk-Keewis Flapping far up in the ether,
Broader than two doorway curtains.
Pau-Puk-Keewis heard the shouting, Knew the voice of Hiawatha,
Knew the outcry of Iagoo, And, forgetful of the warning,
Drew his neck in, and looked downward,
And the wind that blew behind him Caught his mighty fan of feathers,
Sent him wheeling, whirling downward!
All in vain did Pau-Puk-Keewis Struggle to regain his balance!
Whirling round and round and downward, He beheld in turn the village
And in turn the flock above him,
Saw the village coming nearer, And the flock receding farther,
Heard the voices growing louder, Heard the shouting and the laughter;
Saw no more the flock above him,
Only saw the earth beneath him; Dead out of the empty heaven,
Dead among the shouting people, With a heavy sound and sullen,
Fell the brant with broken pinions.
But his soul, his ghost, his shadow, Still survived as Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Took again the form and features Of the handsome Yenadizze,
And again went rushing onward,
Followed fast by Hiawatha, Crying: "Not so wide the world is,
Not so long and rough the way is, But my wrath shall overtake you,
But my vengeance shall attain you!"
And so near he came, so near him, That his hand was stretched to seize him,
His right hand to seize and hold him, When the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis
Whirled and spun about in circles,
Fanned the air into a whirlwind, Danced the dust and leaves about him,
And amid the whirling eddies Sprang into a hollow oak-tree,
Changed himself into a serpent, Gliding out through root and rubbish.
With his right hand Hiawatha Smote amain the hollow oak-tree,
Rent it into shreds and splinters, Left it lying there in fragments.
But in vain; for Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Once again in human figure, Full in sight ran on before him,
Sped away in gust and whirlwind, On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
Westward by the Big-Sea-Water,
Came unto the rocky headlands, To the Pictured Rocks of sandstone,
Looking over lake and landscape.
And the Old Man of the Mountain, He the Manito of Mountains,
Opened wide his rocky doorways, Opened wide his deep abysses,
Giving Pau-Puk-Keewis shelter
In his caverns dark and dreary, Bidding Pau-Puk-Keewis welcome
To his gloomy lodge of sandstone.
There without stood Hiawatha, Found the doorways closed against him,
With his mittens, Minjekahwun, Smote great caverns in the sandstone,
Cried aloud in tones of thunder,
"Open! I am Hiawatha!" But the Old Man of the Mountain
Opened not, and made no answer From the silent crags of sandstone,
From the gloomy rock abysses.
Then he raised his hands to heaven, Called imploring on the tempest,
Called Waywassimo, the lightning, And the thunder, Annemeekee;
And they came with night and darkness,
Sweeping down the Big-Sea-Water From the distant Thunder Mountains;
And the trembling Pau-Puk-Keewis Heard the footsteps of the thunder,
Saw the red eyes of the lightning, Was afraid, and crouched and trembled.
Then Waywassimo, the lightning, Smote the doorways of the caverns,
With his war-club smote the doorways, Smote the jutting crags of sandstone,
And the thunder, Annemeekee,
Shouted down into the caverns, Saying, "Where is Pau-Puk-Keewis!"
And the crags fell, and beneath them Dead among the rocky ruins
Lay the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis,
Lay the handsome Yenadizze, Slain in his own human figure.
Ended were his wild adventures, Ended were his tricks and gambols,
Ended all his craft and cunning, Ended all his mischief-making,
All his gambling and his dancing, All his wooing of the maidens.
Then the noble Hiawatha Took his soul, his ghost, his shadow,
Spake and said: "O Pau-Puk-Keewis, Never more in human figure
Shall you search for new adventures;
Never more with jest and laughter Dance the dust and leaves in whirlwinds;
But above there in the heavens You shall soar and sail in circles;
I will change you to an eagle,
To Keneu, the great war-eagle, Chief of all the fowls with feathers,
Chief of Hiawatha's chickens."
And the name of Pau-Puk-Keewis Lingers still among the people,
Lingers still among the singers, And among the story-tellers;
And in Winter, when the snow-flakes
Whirl in eddies round the lodges, When the wind in gusty tumult
O'er the smoke-flue pipes and whistles,
"There," they cry, "comes Pau-Puk-Keewis; He is dancing through the village,
He is gathering in his harvest!"
Far and wide among the nations Spread the name and fame of Kwasind;
No man dared to strive with Kwasind, No man could compete with Kwasind.
But the mischievous Puk-Wudjies,
They the envious Little People, They the fairies and the pygmies,
Plotted and conspired against him.
"If this hateful Kwasind," said they, "If this great, outrageous fellow
Goes on thus a little longer, Tearing everything he touches,
Rending everything to pieces,
Filling all the world with wonder, What becomes of the Puk-Wudjies?
Who will care for the Puk-Wudjies? He will tread us down like mushrooms,
Drive us all into the water,
Give our bodies to be eaten By the wicked Nee-ba-naw-baigs,
By the Spirits of the water!"
So the angry Little People All conspired against the Strong Man,
All conspired to murder Kwasind, Yes, to rid the world of Kwasind,
The audacious, overbearing, Heartless, haughty, dangerous Kwasind!
Now this wondrous strength of Kwasind In his crown alone was seated;
In his crown too was his weakness: There alone could he be wounded,
Nowhere else could weapon pierce him, Nowhere else could weapon harm him.
Even there the only weapon That could wound him, that could slay him,
Was the seed-cone of the pine-tree, Was the blue cone of the fir-tree.
This was Kwasind's fatal secret,
Known to no man among mortals; But the cunning Little People,
The Puk-Wudjies, knew the secret, Knew the only way to kill him.
So they gathered cones together, Gathered seed-cones of the pine-tree,
Gathered blue cones of the fir-tree, In the woods by Taquamenaw,
Brought them to the river's margin,
Heaped them in great piles together, Where the red rocks from the margin
Jutting overhang the river. There they lay in wait for Kwasind,
The malicious Little People.
'T was an afternoon in Summer; Very hot and still the air was,
Very smooth the gliding river, Motionless the sleeping shadows:
Insects glistened in the sunshine,
Insects skated on the water Filled the drowsy air with buzzing,
With a far-resounding war-cry.
Down the river came the Strong Man, In his birch canoe came Kwasind,
Floating slowly down the current Of the sluggish Taquamenaw,
Very languid with the weather, Very sleepy with the silence.
From the overhanging branches, From the tassels of the birch-trees,
Soft the Spirit of Sleep descended; By his airy hosts surrounded,
His invisible attendants,
Came the Spirit of Sleep, Nepahwin; Like the burnished Dush-kwo-ne-she,
Like a dragon fly, he hovered O'er the drowsy head of Kwasind.
To his ear there came a murmur As of waves upon a sea-shore,
As of far-off tumbling waters, As of winds among the pine-trees;
And he felt upon his forehead
Blows of little airy war-clubs, Wielded by the slumbrous legions
Of the Spirit of Sleep, Nepahwin, As of some one breathing on him.
At the first blow of their war-clubs, Fell a drowsiness on Kwasind;
At the second blow they smote him, Motionless his paddle rested;
At the third, before his vision
Reeled the landscape into darkness, Very sound asleep was Kwasind.
So he floated down the river, Like a blind man seated upright,
Floated down the Taquamenaw, Underneath the trembling birch-trees,
Underneath the wooded headlands,
Underneath the war encampment Of the pygmies, the Puk-Wudjies.
There they stood, all armed and waiting, Hurled the pine-cones down upon him,
Struck him on his brawny shoulders, On his crown defenseless struck him.
"Death to Kwasind!" was the sudden War-cry of the Little People.
And he sideways swayed and tumbled, Sideways fell into the river,
Plunged beneath the sluggish water Headlong, as an otter plunges;
And the birch canoe, abandoned,
Drifted empty down the river, Bottom upward swerved and drifted:
Nothing more was seen of Kwasind.
But the memory of the Strong Man Lingered long among the people,
And whenever through the forest Raged and roared the wintry tempest,
And the branches, tossed and troubled,
Creaked and groaned and split asunder, "Kwasind!" cried they; "that is Kwasind!
He is gathering in his fire-wood!"
Never stoops the soaring vulture On his quarry in the desert,
On the sick or wounded bison, But another vulture, watching
From his high aerial look-out,
Sees the downward plunge, and follows; And a third pursues the second,
Coming from the invisible ether, First a speck, and then a vulture,
Till the air is dark with pinions.
So disasters come not singly; But as if they watched and waited,
Scanning one another's motions, When the first descends, the others
Follow, follow, gathering flock-wise
Round their victim, sick and wounded, First a shadow, then a sorrow,
Till the air is dark with anguish.
Now, o'er all the dreary Northland, Mighty Peboan, the Winter,
Breathing on the lakes and rivers, Into stone had changed their waters.
From his hair he shook the snow-flakes,
Till the plains were strewn with whiteness, One uninterrupted level,
As if, stooping, the Creator With his hand had smoothed them over.
Through the forest, wide and wailing, Roamed the hunter on his snow-shoes;
In the village worked the women, Pounded maize, or dressed the deer-skin;
And the young men played together
On the ice the noisy ball-play, On the plain the dance of snow-shoes.
One dark evening, after sundown, In her wigwam Laughing Water
Sat with old Nokomis, waiting For the steps of Hiawatha
Homeward from the hunt returning.
On their faces gleamed the fire-light, Painting them with streaks of crimson,
In the eyes of old Nokomis Glimmered like the watery moonlight,
In the eyes of Laughing Water
Glistened like the sun in water; And behind them crouched their shadows
In the corners of the wigwam, And the smoke in wreaths above them
Climbed and crowded through the smoke-flue.
Then the curtain of the doorway From without was slowly lifted;
Brighter glowed the fire a moment, And a moment swerved the smoke-wreath,
As two women entered softly,
Passed the doorway uninvited, Without word of salutation,
Without sign of recognition, Sat down in the farthest corner,
Crouching low among the shadows.
From their aspect and their garments, Strangers seemed they in the village;
Very pale and haggard were they, As they sat there sad and silent,
Trembling, cowering with the shadows.
Was it the wind above the smoke-flue, Muttering down into the wigwam?
Was it the owl, the Koko-koho, Hooting from the dismal forest?
Sure a voice said in the silence:
"These are corpses clad in garments, These are ghosts that come to haunt you,
From the kingdom of Ponemah, From the land of the Hereafter!"
Homeward now came Hiawatha From his hunting in the forest,
With the snow upon his tresses, And the red deer on his shoulders.
At the feet of Laughing Water
Down he threw his lifeless burden; Nobler, handsomer she thought him,
Than when first he came to woo her, First threw down the deer before her,
As a token of his wishes, As a promise of the future.
Then he turned and saw the strangers, Cowering, crouching with the shadows;
Said within himself, "Who are they? What strange guests has Minnehaha?"
But he questioned not the strangers,
Only spake to bid them welcome To his lodge, his food, his fireside.
When the evening meal was ready, And the deer had been divided,
Both the pallid guests, the strangers, Springing from among the shadows,
Seized upon the choicest portions,
Seized the white fat of the roebuck, Set apart for Laughing Water,
For the wife of Hiawatha; Without asking, without thanking,
Eagerly devoured the morsels,
Flitted back among the shadows In the corner of the wigwam.
Not a word spake Hiawatha, Not a motion made Nokomis,
Not a gesture Laughing Water; Not a change came o'er their features;
Only Minnehaha softly
Whispered, saying, "They are famished; Let them do what best delights them;
Let them eat, for they are famished."
Many a daylight dawned and darkened, Many a night shook off the daylight
As the pine shakes off the snow-flakes From the midnight of its branches;
Day by day the guests unmoving
Sat there silent in the wigwam; But by night, in storm or starlight,
Forth they went into the forest, Bringing fire-wood to the wigwam,
Bringing pine-cones for the burning, Always sad and always silent.
And whenever Hiawatha Came from fishing or from hunting,
When the evening meal was ready, And the food had been divided,
Gliding from their darksome corner,
Came the pallid guests, the strangers, Seized upon the choicest portions
Set aside for Laughing Water, And without rebuke or question
Flitted back among the shadows.
Never once had Hiawatha By a word or look reproved them;
Never once had old Nokomis Made a gesture of impatience;
Never once had Laughing Water
Shown resentment at the outrage. All had they endured in silence,
That the rights of guest and stranger, That the virtue of free-giving,
By a look might not be lessened, By a word might not be broken.
Once at midnight Hiawatha, Ever wakeful, ever watchful,
In the wigwam, dimly lighted By the brands that still were burning,
By the glimmering, flickering fire-light,
Heard a sighing, oft repeated, Heard a sobbing as of sorrow.
From his couch rose Hiawatha, From his shaggy hides of bison,
Pushed aside the deer-skin curtain, Saw the pallid guests, the shadows,
Sitting upright on their couches, Weeping in the silent midnight.
And he said: "O guests! why is it That your hearts are so afflicted,
That you sob so in the midnight? Has perchance the old Nokomis,
Has my wife, my Minnehaha,
Wronged or grieved you by unkindness, Failed in hospitable duties?"
Then the shadows ceased from weeping, Ceased from sobbing and lamenting,
And they said, with gentle voices: "We are ghosts of the departed,
Souls of those who once were with you.
From the realms of Chibiabos Hither have we come to try you,
Hither have we come to warn you.
"Cries of grief and lamentation Reach us in the Blessed Islands:
Cries of anguish from the living, Calling back their friends departed,
Sadden us with useless sorrow.
Therefore have we come to try you; No one knows us, no one heeds us.
We are but a burden to you, And we see that the departed
Have no place among the living.
"Think of this, O Hiawatha! Speak of it to all the people,
That henceforward and forever They no more with lamentations
Sadden the souls of the departed In the Islands of the Blessed.
"Do not lay such heavy burdens In the graves of those you bury,
Not such weight of furs and wampum, Not such weight of pots and kettles,
For the spirits faint beneath them.
Only give them food to carry, Only give them fire to light them.
"Four days is the spirit's journey To the land of ghosts and shadows,
Four its lonely night encampments; Four times must their fires be lighted.
Therefore, when the dead are buried,
Let a fire, as night approaches, Four times on the grave be kindled,
That the soul upon its journey May not lack the cheerful fire-light,
May not grope about in darkness.
"Farewell, noble Hiawatha! We have put you to the trial,
To the proof have put your patience, By the insult of our presence,
By the outrage of our actions.
We have found you great and noble. Fail not in the greater trial,
Faint not in the harder struggle."
When they ceased, a sudden darkness Fell and filled the silent wigwam.
Hiawatha heard a rustle As of garments trailing by him,
Heard the curtain of the doorway
Lifted by a hand he saw not, Felt the cold breath of the night air,
For a moment saw the starlight; But he saw the ghosts no longer,
Saw no more the wandering spirits
From the kingdom of Ponemah, From the land of the Hereafter.
O the long and dreary Winter! O the cold and cruel Winter!
Ever thicker, thicker, thicker Froze the ice on lake and river,
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper,
Fell the snow o'er all the landscape, Fell the covering snow, and drifted
Through the forest, round the village.
Hardly from his buried wigwam Could the hunter force a passage;
With his mittens and his snow-shoes Vainly walked he through the forest,
Sought for bird or beast and found none.
Saw no track of deer or rabbit, In the snow beheld no footprints,
In the ghastly, gleaming forest Fell, and could not rise from weakness,
Perished there from cold and hunger.
O the famine and the fever! O the wasting of the famine!
O the blasting of the fever! O the wailing of the children!
O the anguish of the women!
All the earth was sick and famished; Hungry was the air around them,
Hungry was the sky above them, And the hungry stars in heaven
Like the eyes of wolves glared at them!
Into Hiawatha's wigwam Came two other guests as silent
As the ghosts were, and as gloomy, Waited not to be invited,
Did not parley at the doorway,
Sat there without word of welcome In the seat of Laughing Water;
Looked with haggard eyes and hollow At the face of Laughing Water.
And the foremost said: "Behold me! I am Famine, Bukadawin!"
And the other said: "Behold me! I am Fever, Ahkosewin!"
And the lovely Minnehaha Shuddered as they looked upon her,
Shuddered at the words they uttered, Lay down on her bed in silence,
Hid her face, but made no answer;
Lay there trembling, freezing, burning At the looks they cast upon her,
At the fearful words they uttered.
Forth into the empty forest Rushed the maddened Hiawatha;
In his heart was deadly sorrow, In his face a stony firmness;
On his brow the sweat of anguish Started, but it froze and fell not.
Wrapped in furs and armed for hunting, With his mighty bow of ash-tree,
With his quiver full of arrows, With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
Into the vast and vacant forest On his snow-shoes strode he forward.
"Gitche Manito, the Mighty!" Cried he with his face uplifted
In that bitter hour of anguish, "Give your children food, O father!
Give us food, or we must perish!
Give me food for Minnehaha, For my dying Minnehaha!"
Through the far-resounding forest, Through the forest vast and vacant
Rang that cry of desolation, But there came no other answer
Than the echo of his crying,
Than the echo of the woodlands, "Minnehaha! Minnehaha!"
All day long roved Hiawatha In that melancholy forest,
Through the shadow of whose thickets, In the pleasant days of Summer,
Of that ne'er forgotten Summer,
He had brought his young wife homeward From the land of the Dacotahs;
When the birds sang in the thickets, And the streamlets laughed and glistened,
And the air was full of fragrance,
And the lovely Laughing Water Said with voice that did not tremble,
"I will follow you, my husband!"
In the wigwam with Nokomis, With those gloomy guests that watched her,
With the Famine and the Fever, She was lying, the Beloved,
She the dying Minnehaha.
"Hark!" she said; "I hear a rushing, Hear a roaring and a rushing,
Hear the Falls of Minnehaha Calling to me from a distance!"
"No, my child!" said old Nokomis, "'T is the night-wind in the pine-trees!"
"Look!" she said; "I see my father Standing lonely at his doorway,
Beckoning to me from his wigwam In the land of the Dacotahs!"
"No, my child!" said old Nokomis, "'T is the smoke, that waves and beckons!"
"Ah!" said she, "the eyes of Pauguk Glare upon me in the darkness,
I can feel his icy fingers Clasping mine amid the darkness!
Hiawatha! Hiawatha!"
And the desolate Hiawatha, Far away amid the forest,
Miles away among the mountains, Heard that sudden cry of anguish,
Heard the voice of Minnehaha
Calling to him in the darkness, "Hiawatha! Hiawatha!"
Over snow-fields waste and pathless, Under snow-encumbered branches,
Homeward hurried Hiawatha, Empty-handed, heavy-hearted,
Heard Nokomis moaning, wailing:
"Wahonowin! Wahonowin! Would that I had perished for you,
Would that I were dead as you are! Wahonowin! Wahonowin!"
And he rushed into the wigwam, Saw the old Nokomis slowly
Rocking to and fro and moaning, Saw his lovely Minnehaha
Lying dead and cold before him,
And his bursting heart within him Uttered such a cry of anguish,
That the forest moaned and shuddered, That the very stars in heaven
Shook and trembled with his anguish.
Then he sat down, still and speechless, On the bed of Minnehaha,
At the feet of Laughing Water, At those willing feet, that never
More would lightly run to meet him, Never more would lightly follow.
With both hands his face he covered, Seven long days and nights he sat there,
As if in a swoon he sat there, Speechless, motionless, unconscious
Of the daylight or the darkness.
Then they buried Minnehaha; In the snow a grave they made her,
In the forest deep and darksome, Underneath the moaning hemlocks;
Clothed her in her richest garments,
Wrapped her in her robes of ermine, Covered her with snow, like ermine;
Thus they buried Minnehaha.
And at night a fire was lighted, On her grave four times was kindled,
For her soul upon its journey To the Islands of the Blessed.
From his doorway Hiawatha
Saw it burning in the forest, Lighting up the gloomy hemlocks;
From his sleepless bed uprising, From the bed of Minnehaha,
Stood and watched it at the doorway,
That it might not be extinguished, Might not leave her in the darkness.
"Farewell!" said he, "Minnehaha! Farewell, O my Laughing Water!
All my heart is buried with you, All my thoughts go onward with you!
Come not back again to labor,
Come not back again to suffer, Where the Famine and the Fever
Wear the heart and waste the body. Soon my task will be completed,
Soon your footsteps I shall follow
To the Islands of the Blessed, To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the Land of the Hereafter!"
In his lodge beside a river, Close beside a frozen river,
Sat an old man, sad and lonely. White his hair was as a snow-drift;
Dull and low his fire was burning,
And the old man shook and trembled, Folded in his Waubewyon,
In his tattered white-skin-wrapper, Hearing nothing but the tempest
As it roared along the forest,
Seeing nothing but the snow-storm, As it whirled and hissed and drifted.
All the coals were white with ashes, And the fire was slowly dying,
As a young man, walking lightly, At the open doorway entered.
Red with blood of youth his cheeks were,
Soft his eyes, as stars in Spring-time, Bound his forehead was with grasses,
Bound and plumed with scented grasses; On his lips a smile of beauty,
Filling all the lodge with sunshine,
In his hand a bunch of blossoms Filling all the lodge with sweetness.
"Ah, my son!" exclaimed the old man, "Happy are my eyes to see you.
Sit here on the mat beside me, Sit here by the dying embers,
Let us pass the night together.
Tell me of your strange adventures, Of the lands where you have travelled;
I will tell you of my prowess, Of my many deeds of wonder."
From his pouch he drew his peace-pipe, Very old and strangely fashioned;
Made of red stone was the pipe-head, And the stem a reed with feathers;
Filled the pipe with bark of willow,
Placed a burning coal upon it, Gave it to his guest, the stranger,
And began to speak in this wise: "When I blow my breath about me,
When I breathe upon the landscape,
Motionless are all the rivers, Hard as stone becomes the water!"
And the young man answered, smiling: "When I blow my breath about me,
When I breathe upon the landscape, Flowers spring up o'er all the meadows,
Singing, onward rush the rivers!"
"When I shake my hoary tresses," Said the old man, darkly frowning,
"All the land with snow is covered; All the leaves from all the branches
Fall and fade and die and wither,
For I breathe, and lo! they are not. From the waters and the marshes
Rise the wild goose and the heron, Fly away to distant regions,
For I speak, and lo! they are not.
And where'er my footsteps wander, All the wild beasts of the forest
Hide themselves in holes and caverns, And the earth becomes as flintstone!"
"When I shake my flowing ringlets," Said the young man, softly laughing,
"Showers of rain fall warm and welcome, Plants lift up their heads rejoicing,
Back unto their lakes and marshes
Come the wild goose and the heron, Homeward shoots the arrowy swallow,
Sing the bluebird and the robin, And where'er my footsteps wander,
All the meadows wave with blossoms,
All the woodlands ring with music, All the trees are dark with foliage!"
While they spake, the night departed: From the distant realms of Wabun,
From his shining lodge of silver, Like a warrior robed and painted,
Came the sun, and said, "Behold me! Gheezis, the great sun, behold me!"
Then the old man's tongue was speechless And the air grew warm and pleasant,
And upon the wigwam sweetly Sang the bluebird and the robin,
And the stream began to murmur,
And a scent of growing grasses Through the lodge was gently wafted.
And Segwun, the youthful stranger, More distinctly in the daylight
Saw the icy face before him; It was Peboan, the Winter!
From his eyes the tears were flowing, As from melting lakes the streamlets,
And his body shrunk and dwindled As the shouting sun ascended,
Till into the air it faded,
Till into the ground it vanished, And the young man saw before him,
On the hearth-stone of the wigwam, Where the fire had smoked and smouldered,
Saw the earliest flower of Spring-time,
Saw the Beauty of the Spring-time, Saw the Miskodeed in blossom.
Thus it was that in the North-land After that unheard-of coldness,
That intolerable Winter, Came the Spring with all its splendor,
All its birds and all its blossoms, All its flowers and leaves and grasses.
Sailing on the wind to northward, Flying in great flocks, like arrows,
Like huge arrows shot through heaven, Passed the swan, the Mahnahbezee,
Speaking almost as a man speaks;
And in long lines waving, bending Like a bow-string snapped asunder,
Came the white goose, Waw-be-wawa; And in pairs, or singly flying,
Mahng the loon, with clangorous pinions,
The blue heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, And the grouse, the Mushkodasa.
In the thickets and the meadows Piped the bluebird, the Owaissa,
On the summit of the lodges Sang the Opechee, the robin,
In the covert of the pine-trees
Cooed the pigeon, the Omemee, And the sorrowing Hiawatha,
Speechless in his infinite sorrow, Heard their voices calling to him,
Went forth from his gloomy doorway,
Stood and gazed into the heaven, Gazed upon the earth and waters.
From his wanderings far to eastward, From the regions of the morning,
From the shining land of Wabun, Homeward now returned Iagoo,
The great traveller, the great boaster,
Full of new and strange adventures, Marvels many and many wonders.
And the people of the village Listened to him as he told them
Of his marvellous adventures, Laughing answered him in this wise:
"Ugh! it is indeed Iagoo! No one else beholds such wonders!"
He had seen, he said, a water Bigger than the Big-Sea-Water,
Broader than the Gitche Gumee, Bitter so that none could drink it!
At each other looked the warriors,
Looked the women at each other, Smiled, and said, "It cannot be so!
Kaw!" they said, "it cannot be so!"
O'er it, said he, o'er this water Came a great canoe with pinions,
A canoe with wings came flying, Bigger than a grove of pine-trees,
Taller than the tallest tree-tops!
And the old men and the women Looked and tittered at each other;
"Kaw!" they said, "we don't believe it!"
From its mouth, he said, to greet him, Came Waywassimo, the lightning,
Came the thunder, Annemeekee! And the warriors and the women
Laughed aloud at poor Iagoo; "Kaw!" they said, "what tales you tell us!"
In it, said he, came a people, In the great canoe with pinions
Came, he said, a hundred warriors; Painted white were all their faces,
And with hair their chins were covered!
And the warriors and the women Laughed and shouted in derision,
Like the ravens on the tree-tops, Like the crows upon the hemlocks.
"Kaw!" they said, "what lies you tell us! Do not think that we believe them!"
Only Hiawatha laughed not, But he gravely spake and answered
To their jeering and their jesting: "True is all Iagoo tells us;
I have seen it in a vision,
Seen the great canoe with pinions, Seen the people with white faces,
Seen the coming of this bearded People of the wooden vessel
From the regions of the morning, From the shining land of Wabun.
"Gitche Manito the Mighty, The Great Spirit, the Creator,
Sends them hither on his errand, Sends them to us with his message.
Wheresoe'er they move, before them
Swarms the stinging fly, the Ahmo, Swarms the bee, the honey-maker;
Wheresoe'er they tread, beneath them Springs a flower unknown among us,
Springs the White-man's Foot in blossom.
"Let us welcome, then, the strangers, Hail them as our friends and brothers,
And the heart's right hand of friendship Give them when they come to see us.
Gitche Manito, the Mighty, Said this to me in my vision.
"I beheld, too, in that vision All the secrets of the future,
Of the distant days that shall be. I beheld the westward marches
Of the unknown, crowded nations.
All the land was full of people, Restless, struggling, toiling, striving,
Speaking many tongues, yet feeling But one heart-beat in their bosoms.
In the woodlands rang their axes,
Smoked their towns in all the valleys, Over all the lakes and rivers
Rushed their great canoes of thunder.
"Then a darker, drearier vision Passed before me, vague and cloud-like:
I beheld our nation scattered, All forgetful of my counsels,
Weakened, warring with each other;
Saw the remnants of our people Sweeping westward, wild and woful,
Like the cloud-rack of a tempest, Like the withered leaves of Autumn!"
By the shore of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam, In the pleasant summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.
All the air was full of freshness, All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him, through the sunshine, Westward toward the neighboring forest
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,
Passed the bees, the honey-makers, Burning, singing in the sunshine.
Bright above him shone the heavens, Level spread the lake before him;
From its bosom leaped the sturgeon, Sparkling, flashing in the sunshine;
On its margin the great forest
Stood reflected in the water, Every tree-top had its shadow,
Motionless beneath the water.
From the brow of Hiawatha Gone was every trace of sorrow,
As the fog from off the water, As the mist from off the meadow.
With a smile of joy and triumph,
With a look of exultation, As of one who in a vision
Sees what is to be, but is not, Stood and waited Hiawatha.
Toward the sun his hands were lifted, Both the palms spread out against it,
And between the parted fingers Fell the sunshine on his features,
Flecked with light his naked shoulders,
As it falls and flecks an oak-tree Through the rifted leaves and branches.
O'er the water floating, flying, Something in the hazy distance,
Something in the mists of morning, Loomed and lifted from the water,
Now seemed floating, now seemed flying, Coming nearer, nearer, nearer.
Was it Shingebis the diver? Was it the pelican, the Shada?
Or the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah? Or the white goose, Waw-be-wawa,
With the water dripping, flashing From its glossy neck and feathers?
It was neither goose nor diver, Neither pelican nor heron,
O'er the water, floating, flying, Through the shining mist of morning,
But a birch canoe with paddles,
Rising, sinking on the water, Dripping, flashing in the sunshine;
And within it came a people From the distant land of Wabun,
From the farthest realms of morning
Came the Black-Robe chief, the Prophet, He the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face,
With his guides and his companions.
And the noble Hiawatha, With his hands aloft extended,
Held aloft in sign of welcome, Waited, full of exultation,
Till the birch canoe with paddles
Grated on the shining pebbles, Stranded on the sandy margin,
Till the Black-Robe chief, the Pale-face, With the cross upon his bosom,
Landed on the sandy margin.
Then the joyous Hiawatha Cried aloud and spake in this wise:
"Beautiful is the sun, O strangers, When you come so far to see us!
All our town in peace awaits you;
All our doors stand open for you; You shall enter all our wigwams,
For the heart's right hand we give you.
"Never bloomed the earth so gayly, Never shone the sun so brightly,
As to-day they shine and blossom When you come so far to see us!
Never was our lake so tranquil,
Nor so free from rocks and sand-bars; For your birch canoe in passing
Has removed both rock and sand-bar.
"Never before had our tobacco Such a sweet and pleasant flavor,
Never the broad leaves of our corn-fields Were so beautiful to look on,
As they seem to us this morning, When you come so far to see us!"
And the Black-Robe chief made answer, Stammered in his speech a little,
Speaking words yet unfamiliar: "Peace be with you, Hiawatha,
Peace be with you and your people,
Peace of prayer, and peace of pardon, Peace of Christ, and joy of Mary!"
Then the generous Hiawatha Led the strangers to his wigwam,
Seated them on skins of bison, Seated them on skins of ermine,
And the careful old Nokomis
Brought them food in bowls of bass-wood, Water brought in birchen dippers,
And the calumet, the peace-pipe, Filled and lighted for their smoking.
All the old men of the village, All the warriors of the nation,
All the Jossakeeds, the prophets, The magicians, the Wabenos,
And the medicine-men, the Medas,
Came to bid the strangers welcome; "It is well," they said, "O brothers,
That you come so far to see us;"
In a circle round the doorway, With their pipes they sat in silence,
Waiting to behold the strangers, Waiting to receive their message;
Till the Black-Robe chief, the Pale-face,
From the wigwam came to greet them, Stammering in his speech a little,
Speaking words yet unfamiliar; "It is well," they said, "O brother,
That you come so far to see us!"
Then the Black-Robe chief, the prophet, Told his message to the people,
Told the purport of his mission, Told them of the Virgin Mary,
And her blessed Son, the Saviour,
How in distant lands and ages He had lived on earth as we do;
How he fasted, prayed, and labored; How the Jews, the tribe accursed,
Mocked him, scourged him, crucified him;
How he rose from where they laid him, Walked again with his disciples,
And ascended into heaven. And the chiefs made answer, saying:
"We have listened to your message,
We have heard your words of wisdom, We will think on what you tell us.
It is well for us, O brothers, That you come so far to see us!"
Then they rose up and departed Each one homeward to his wigwam,
To the young men and the women Told the story of the strangers
Whom the Master of Life had sent them From the shining land of Wabun.
Heavy with the heat and silence Grew the afternoon of Summer,
With a drowsy sound the forest Whispered round the sultry wigwam,
With a sound of sleep the water
Rippled on the beach below it; From the corn-fields shrill and ceaseless
Sang the grasshopper, Pah-puk-keena; And the guests of Hiawatha,
Weary with the heat of Summer, Slumbered in the sultry wigwam.
Slowly o'er the simmering landscape Fell the evening's dusk and coolness,
And the long and level sunbeams Shot their spears into the forest,
Breaking through its shields of shadow,
Rushed into each secret ambush, Searched each thicket, dingle, hollow;
Still the guests of Hiawatha Slumbered in the silent wigwam.
From his place rose Hiawatha, Bade farewell to old Nokomis,
Spake in whispers, spake in this wise, Did not wake the guests, that slumbered:
"I am going, O Nokomis, On a long and distant journey,
To the portals of the Sunset, To the regions of the home-wind,
Of the Northwest wind, Keewaydin.
But these guests I leave behind me, In your watch and ward I leave them;
See that never harm comes near them, See that never fear molests them,
Never danger nor suspicion,
Never want of food or shelter, In the lodge of Hiawatha!"
Forth into the village went he, Bade farewell to all the warriors,
Bade farewell to all the young men, Spake persuading, spake in this wise:
"I am going, O my people, On a long and distant journey;
Many moons and many winters Will have come, and will have vanished,
Ere I come again to see you.
But my guests I leave behind me; Listen to their words of wisdom,
Listen to the truth they tell you, For the Master of Life has sent them
From the land of light and morning!"
On the shore stood Hiawatha, Turned and waved his hand at parting;
On the clear and luminous water Launched his birch canoe for sailing,
From the pebbles of the margin
Shoved it forth into the water; Whispered to it, "Westward! westward!"
And with speed it darted forward.
And the evening sun descending Set the clouds on fire with redness,
Burned the broad sky, like a prairie, Left upon the level water
One long track and trail of splendor,
Down whose stream, as down a river, Westward, westward Hiawatha
Sailed into the fiery sunset, Sailed into the purple vapors,
Sailed into the dusk of evening.
And the people from the margin Watched him floating, rising, sinking,
Till the birch canoe seemed lifted High into that sea of splendor,
Till it sank into the vapors
Like the new moon slowly, slowly Sinking in the purple distance.
And they said, "Farewell forever!" Said, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the forests, dark and lonely, Moved through all their depths of darkness,
Sighed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the waves upon the margin Rising, rippling on the pebbles,
Sobbed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!" And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
From her haunts among the fen-lands, Screamed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
Thus departed Hiawatha, Hiawatha the Beloved,
In the glory of the sunset, In the purple mists of evening,
To the regions of the home-wind,
Of the Northwest wind, Keewaydin, To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the kingdom of Ponemah, To the land of the Hereafter!