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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Longfellow Henry Wadsworth
 

«The Song of Hiawatha», Henry Longfellow

Introduction

 

  • Should you ask me, whence these stories?
  • Whence these legends and traditions,
  • With the odors of the forest
  • With the dew and damp of meadows,
  • With the curling smoke of wigwams,
  • With the rushing of great rivers,
  • With their frequent repetitions,
  • And their wild reverberations
  • As of thunder in the mountains?
  • I should answer, I should tell you,
  • "From the forests and the prairies,
  • From the great lakes of the Northland,
  • From the land of the Ojibways,
  • From the land of the Dacotahs,
  • From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands
  • Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
  • Feeds among the reeds and rushes.
  • I repeat them as I heard them
  • From the lips of Nawadaha,
  • The musician, the sweet singer."
  • Should you ask where Nawadaha
  • Found these songs so wild and wayward,
  • Found these legends and traditions,
  • I should answer, I should tell you,
  • "In the bird's-nests of the forest,
  • In the lodges of the beaver,
  • In the hoofprint of the bison,
  • In the eyry of the eagle!
  • "All the wild-fowl sang them to him,
  • In the moorlands and the fen-lands,
  • In the melancholy marshes;
  • Chetowaik, the plover, sang them,
  • Mahng, the loon, the wild-goose, Wawa,
  • The blue heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
  • And the grouse, the Mushkodasa!"
  • If still further you should ask me,
  • Saying, "Who was Nawadaha?
  • Tell us of this Nawadaha,"
  • I should answer your inquiries
  • Straightway in such words as follow.
  • "In the vale of Tawasentha,
  • In the green and silent valley,
  • By the pleasant water-courses,
  • Dwelt the singer Nawadaha.
  • Round about the Indian village
  • Spread the meadows and the corn-fields,
  • And beyond them stood the forest,
  • Stood the groves of singing pine-trees,
  • Green in Summer, white in Winter,
  • Ever sighing, ever singing.
  • "And the pleasant water-courses,
  • You could trace them through the valley,
  • By the rushing in the Spring-time,
  • By the alders in the Summer,
  • By the white fog in the Autumn,
  • By the black line in the Winter;
  • And beside them dwelt the singer,
  • In the vale of Tawasentha,
  • In the green and silent valley.
  • "There he sang of Hiawatha,
  • Sang the Song of Hiawatha,
  • Sang his wondrous birth and being,
  • How he prayed and how be fasted,
  • How he lived, and toiled, and suffered,
  • That the tribes of men might prosper,
  • That he might advance his people!"
  • Ye who love the haunts of Nature,
  • Love the sunshine of the meadow,
  • Love the shadow of the forest,
  • Love the wind among the branches,
  • And the rain-shower and the snow-storm,
  • And the rushing of great rivers
  • Through their palisades of pine-trees,
  • And the thunder in the mountains,
  • Whose innumerable echoes
  • Flap like eagles in their eyries;—
  • Listen to these wild traditions,
  • To this Song of Hiawatha!
  • Ye who love a nation's legends,
  • Love the ballads of a people,
  • That like voices from afar off
  • Call to us to pause and listen,
  • Speak in tones so plain and childlike,
  • Scarcely can the ear distinguish
  • Whether they are sung or spoken;—
  • Listen to this Indian Legend,
  • To this Song of Hiawatha!
  • Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple,
  • Who have faith in God and Nature,
  • Who believe that in all ages
  • Every human heart is human,
  • That in even savage bosoms
  • There are longings, yearnings, strivings
  • For the good they comprehend not,
  • That the feeble hands and helpless,
  • Groping blindly in the darkness,
  • Touch God's right hand in that darkness
  • And are lifted up and strengthened;—
  • Listen to this simple story,
  • To this Song of Hiawatha!
  • Ye, who sometimes, in your rambles
  • Through the green lanes of the country,
  • Where the tangled barberry-bushes
  • Hang their tufts of crimson berries
  • Over stone walls gray with mosses,
  • Pause by some neglected graveyard,
  • For a while to muse, and ponder
  • On a half-effaced inscription,
  • Written with little skill of song-craft,
  • Homely phrases, but each letter
  • Full of hope and yet of heart-break,
  • Full of all the tender pathos
  • Of the Here and the Hereafter;
  • Stay and read this rude inscription,
  • Read this Song of Hiawatha!

I

The Peace-Pipe

 

  • On the Mountains of the Prairie,
  • On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,
  • Gitche Manito, the mighty,
  • He the Master of Life, descending,
  • On the red crags of the quarry
  • Stood erect, and called the nations,
  • Called the tribes of men together.
  • From his footprints flowed a river,
  • Leaped into the light of morning,
  • O'er the precipice plunging downward
  • Gleamed like Ishkoodah, the comet.
  • And the Spirit, stooping earthward,
  • With his finger on the meadow
  • Traced a winding pathway for it,
  • Saying to it, "Run in this way!"
  • From the red stone of the quarry
  • With his hand he broke a fragment,
  • Moulded it into a pipe-head,
  • Shaped and fashioned it with figures;
  • From the margin of the river
  • Took a long reed for a pipe-stem,
  • With its dark green leaves upon it;
  • Filled the pipe with bark of willow,
  • With the bark of the red willow;
  • Breathed upon the neighboring forest,
  • Made its great boughs chafe together,
  • Till in flame they burst and kindled;
  • And erect upon the mountains,
  • Gitche Manito, the mighty,
  • Smoked the calumet, the Peace-Pipe,
  • As a signal to the nations.
  • And the smoke rose slowly, slowly,
  • Through the tranquil air of morning,
  • First a single line of darkness,
  • Then a denser, bluer vapor,
  • Then a snow-white cloud unfolding,
  • Like the tree-tops of the forest,
  • Ever rising, rising, rising,
  • Till it touched the top of heaven,
  • Till it broke against the heaven,
  • And rolled outward all around it.
  • From the Vale of Tawasentha,
  • From the Valley of Wyoming,
  • From the groves of Tuscaloosa,
  • From the far-off Rocky Mountains,
  • From the Northern lakes and rivers
  • All the tribes beheld the signal,
  • Saw the distant smoke ascending,
  • The Pukwana of the Peace-Pipe.
  • And the Prophets of the nations
  • Said: "Behold it, the Pukwana!
  • By the signal of the Peace-Pipe,
  • Bending like a wand of willow,
  • Waving like a hand that beckons,
  • Gitche Manito, the mighty,
  • Calls the tribes of men together,
  • Calls the warriors to his council!"
  • Down the rivers, o'er the prairies,
  • Came the warriors of the nations,
  • Came the Delawares and Mohawks,
  • Came the Choctaws and Camanches,
  • Came the Shoshonies and Blackfeet,
  • Came the Pawnees and Omahas,
  • Came the Mandans and Dacotahs,
  • Came the Hurons and Ojibways,
  • All the warriors drawn together
  • By the signal of the Peace-Pipe,
  • To the Mountains of the Prairie,
  • To the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,
  • And they stood there on the meadow,
  • With their weapons and their war-gear,
  • Painted like the leaves of Autumn,
  • Painted like the sky of morning,
  • Wildly glaring at each other;
  • In their faces stem defiance,
  • In their hearts the feuds of ages,
  • The hereditary hatred,
  • The ancestral thirst of vengeance.
  • Gitche Manito, the mighty,
  • The creator of the nations,
  • Looked upon them with compassion,
  • With paternal love and pity;
  • Looked upon their wrath and wrangling
  • But as quarrels among children,
  • But as feuds and fights of children!
  • Over them he stretched his right hand,
  • To subdue their stubborn natures,
  • To allay their thirst and fever,
  • By the shadow of his right hand;
  • Spake to them with voice majestic
  • As the sound of far-off waters,
  • Falling into deep abysses,
  • Warning, chiding, spake in this wise:
  • "O my children! my poor children!
  • Listen to the words of wisdom,
  • Listen to the words of warning,
  • From the lips of the Great Spirit,
  • From the Master of Life, who made you!
  • "I have given you lands to hunt in,
  • I have given you streams to fish in,
  • I have given you bear and bison,
  • I have given you roe and reindeer,
  • I have given you brant and beaver,
  • Filled the marshes full of wild-fowl,
  • Filled the rivers full of fishes:
  • Why then are you not contented?
  • Why then will you hunt each other?
  • "I am weary of your quarrels,
  • Weary of your wars and bloodshed,
  • Weary of your prayers for vengeance,
  • Of your wranglings and dissensions;
  • All your strength is in your union,
  • All your danger is in discord;
  • Therefore be at peace henceforward,
  • And as brothers live together.
  • "I will send a Prophet to you,
  • A Deliverer of the nations,
  • Who shall guide you and shall teach you,
  • Who shall toil and suffer with you.
  • If you listen to his counsels,
  • You will multiply and prosper;
  • If his warnings pass unheeded,
  • You will fade away and perish!
  • "Bathe now in the stream before you,
  • Wash the war-paint from your faces,
  • Wash the blood-stains from your fingers,
  • Bury your war-clubs and your weapons,
  • Break the red stone from this quarry,
  • Mould and make it into Peace-Pipes,
  • Take the reeds that grow beside you,
  • Deck them with your brightest feathers,
  • Smoke the calumet together,
  • And as brothers live henceforward!"
  • Then upon the ground the warriors
  • Threw their cloaks and shirts of deer-skin,
  • Threw their weapons and their war-gear,
  • Leaped into the rushing river,
  • Washed the war-paint from their faces.
  • Clear above them flowed the water,
  • Clear and limpid from the footprints
  • Of the Master of Life descending;
  • Dark below them flowed the water,
  • Soiled and stained with streaks of crimson,
  • As if blood were mingled with it!
  • From the river came the warriors,
  • Clean and washed from all their war-paint;
  • On the banks their clubs they buried,
  • Buried all their warlike weapons.
  • Gitche Manito, the mighty,
  • The Great Spirit, the creator,
  • Smiled upon his helpless children!
  • And in silence all the warriors
  • Broke the red stone of the quarry,
  • Smoothed and formed it into Peace-Pipes,
  • Broke the long reeds by the river,
  • Decked them with their brightest feathers,
  • And departed each one homeward,
  • While the Master of Life, ascending,
  • Through the opening of cloud-curtains,
  • Through the doorways of the heaven,
  • Vanished from before their faces,
  • In the smoke that rolled around him,
  • The Pukwana of the Peace-Pipe!

II

he Four Winds

 

  • "Honor be to Mudjekeewis!"
  • Cried the warriors, cried the old men,
  • When he came in triumph homeward
  • With the sacred Belt of Wampum,
  • From the regions of the North-Wind,
  • From the kingdom of Wabasso,
  • From the land of the White Rabbit.
  • He had stolen the Belt of Wampum
  • From the neck of Mishe-Mokwa,
  • From the Great Bear of the mountains,
  • From the terror of the nations,
  • As he lay asleep and cumbrous
  • On the summit of the mountains,
  • Like a rock with mosses on it,
  • Spotted brown and gray with mosses.
  • Silently he stole upon him
  • Till the red nails of the monster
  • Almost touched him, almost scared him,
  • Till the hot breath of his nostrils
  • Warmed the hands of Mudjekeewis,
  • As he drew the Belt of Wampum
  • Over the round ears, that heard not,
  • Over the small eyes, that saw not,
  • Over the long nose and nostrils,
  • The black muffle of the nostrils,
  • Out of which the heavy breathing
  • Warmed the hands of Mudjekeewis.
  • Then he swung aloft his war-club,
  • Shouted loud and long his war-cry,
  • Smote the mighty Mishe-Mokwa
  • In the middle of the forehead,
  • Right between the eyes he smote him.
  • With the heavy blow bewildered,
  • Rose the Great Bear of the mountains;
  • But his knees beneath him trembled,
  • And he whimpered like a woman,
  • As he reeled and staggered forward,
  • As he sat upon his haunches;
  • And the mighty Mudjekeewis,
  • Standing fearlessly before him,
  • Taunted him in loud derision,
  • Spake disdainfully in this wise:
  • "Hark you, Bear! you are a coward;
  • And no Brave, as you pretended;
  • Else you would not cry and whimper
  • Like a miserable woman!
  • Bear! you know our tribes are hostile,
  • Long have been at war together;
  • Now you find that we are strongest,
  • You go sneaking in the forest,
  • You go hiding in the mountains!
  • Had you conquered me in battle
  • Not a groan would I have uttered;
  • But you, Bear! sit here and whimper,
  • And disgrace your tribe by crying,
  • Like a wretched Shaugodaya,
  • Like a cowardly old woman!"
  • Then again he raised his war-club,
  • Smote again the Mishe-Mokwa
  • In the middle of his forehead,
  • Broke his skull, as ice is broken
  • When one goes to fish in Winter.
  • Thus was slain the Mishe-Mokwa,
  • He the Great Bear of the mountains,
  • He the terror of the nations.
  • "Honor be to Mudjekeewis!"
  • With a shout exclaimed the people,
  • "Honor be to Mudjekeewis!
  • Henceforth he shall be the West-Wind,
  • And hereafter and forever
  • Shall he hold supreme dominion
  • Over all the winds of heaven.
  • Call him no more Mudjekeewis,
  • Call him Kabeyun, the West-Wind!"
  • Thus was Mudjekeewis chosen
  • Father of the Winds of Heaven.
  • For himself he kept the West-Wind,
  • Gave the others to his children;
  • Unto Wabun gave the East-Wind,
  • Gave the South to Shawondasee,
  • And the North-Wind, wild and cruel,
  • To the fierce Kabibonokka.
  • Young and beautiful was Wabun;
  • He it was who brought the morning,
  • He it was whose silver arrows
  • Chased the dark o'er hill and valley;
  • He it was whose cheeks were painted
  • With the brightest streaks of crimson,
  • And whose voice awoke the village,
  • Called the deer, and called the hunter.
  • Lonely in the sky was Wabun;
  • Though the birds sang gayly to him,
  • Though the wild-flowers of the meadow
  • Filled the air with odors for him;
  • Though the forests and the rivers
  • Sang and shouted at his coming,
  • Still his heart was sad within him,
  • For he was alone in heaven.
  • But one morning, gazing earthward,
  • While the village still was sleeping,
  • And the fog lay on the river,
  • Like a ghost, that goes at sunrise,
  • He beheld a maiden walking
  • All alone upon a meadow,
  • Gathering water-flags and rushes
  • By a river in the meadow.
  • Every morning, gazing earthward,
  • Still the first thing he beheld there
  • Was her blue eyes looking at him,
  • Two blue lakes among the rushes.
  • And he loved the lonely maiden,
  • Who thus waited for his coming;
  • For they both were solitary,
  • She on earth and he in heaven.
  • And he wooed her with caresses,
  • Wooed her with his smile of sunshine,
  • With his flattering words he wooed her,
  • With his sighing and his singing,
  • Gentlest whispers in the branches,
  • Softest music, sweetest odors,
  • Till he drew her to his bosom,
  • Folded in his robes of crimson,
  • Till into a star he changed her,
  • Trembling still upon his bosom;
  • And forever in the heavens
  • They are seen together walking,
  • Wabun and the Wabun-Annung,
  • Wabun and the Star of Morning.
  • But the fierce Kabibonokka
  • Had his dwelling among icebergs,
  • In the everlasting snow-drifts,
  • In the kingdom of Wabasso,
  • In the land of the White Rabbit.
  • He it was whose hand in Autumn
  • Painted all the trees with scarlet,
  • Stained the leaves with red and yellow;
  • He it was who sent the snow-flake,
  • Sifting, hissing through the forest,
  • Froze the ponds, the lakes, the rivers,
  • Drove the loon and sea-gull southward,
  • Drove the cormorant and curlew
  • To their nests of sedge and sea-tang
  • In the realms of Shawondasee.
  • Once the fierce Kabibonokka
  • Issued from his lodge of snow-drifts
  • From his home among the icebergs,
  • And his hair, with snow besprinkled,
  • Streamed behind him like a river,
  • Like a black and wintry river,
  • As he howled and hurried southward,
  • Over frozen lakes and moorlands.
  • There among the reeds and rushes
  • Found he Shingebis, the diver,
  • Trailing strings of fish behind him,
  • O'er the frozen fens and moorlands,
  • Lingering still among the moorlands,
  • Though his tribe had long departed
  • To the land of Shawondasee.
  • Cried the fierce Kabibonokka,
  • "Who is this that dares to brave me?
  • Dares to stay in my dominions,
  • When the Wawa has departed,
  • When the wild-goose has gone southward,
  • And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
  • Long ago departed southward?
  • I will go into his wigwam,
  • I will put his smouldering fire out!"
  • And at night Kabibonokka,
  • To the lodge came wild and wailing,
  • Heaped the snow in drifts about it,
  • Shouted down into the smoke-flue,
  • Shook the lodge-poles in his fury,
  • Flapped the curtain of the door-way.
  • Shingebis, the diver, feared not,
  • Shingebis, the diver, cared not;
  • Four great logs had he for firewood,
  • One for each moon of the winter,
  • And for food the fishes served him.
  • By his blazing fire he sat there,
  • Warm and merry, eating, laughing,
  • Singing, "O Kabibonokka,
  • You are but my fellow-mortal!"
  • Then Kabibonokka entered,
  • And though Shingebis, the diver,
  • Felt his presence by the coldness,
  • Felt his icy breath upon him,
  • Still he did not cease his singing,
  • Still he did not leave his laughing,
  • Only turned the log a little,
  • Only made the fire burn brighter,
  • Made the sparks fly up the smoke-flue.
  • From Kabibonokka's forehead,
  • From his snow-besprinkled tresses,
  • Drops of sweat fell fast and heavy,
  • Making dints upon the ashes,
  • As along the eaves of lodges,
  • As from drooping boughs of hemlock,
  • Drips the melting snow in spring-time,
  • Making hollows in the snow-drifts.
  • Till at last he rose defeated,
  • Could not bear the heat and laughter,
  • Could not bear the merry singing,
  • But rushed headlong through the door-way,
  • Stamped upon the crusted snow-drifts,
  • Stamped upon the lakes and rivers,
  • Made the snow upon them harder,
  • Made the ice upon them thicker,
  • Challenged Shingebis, the diver,
  • To come forth and wrestle with him,
  • To come forth and wrestle naked
  • On the frozen fens and moorlands.
  • Forth went Shingebis, the diver,
  • Wrestled all night with the North-Wind,
  • Wrestled naked on the moorlands
  • With the fierce Kabibonokka,
  • Till his panting breath grew fainter,
  • Till his frozen grasp grew feebler,
  • Till he reeled and staggered backward,
  • And retreated, baffled, beaten,
  • To the kingdom of Wabasso,
  • To the land of the White Rabbit,
  • Hearing still the gusty laughter,
  • Hearing Shingebis, the diver,
  • Singing, "O Kabibonokka,
  • You are but my fellow-mortal!"
  • Shawondasee, fat and lazy,
  • Had his dwelling far to southward,
  • In the drowsy, dreamy sunshine,
  • In the never-ending Summer.
  • He it was who sent the wood-birds,
  • Sent the robin, the Opechee,
  • Sent the bluebird, the Owaissa,
  • Sent the Shawshaw, sent the swallow,
  • Sent the wild-goose, Wawa, northward,
  • Sent the melons and tobacco,
  • And the grapes in purple clusters.
  • From his pipe the smoke ascending
  • Filled the sky with haze and vapor,
  • Filled the air with dreamy softness,
  • Gave a twinkle to the water,
  • Touched the rugged hills with smoothness,
  • Brought the tender Indian Summer
  • To the melancholy north-land,
  • In the dreary Moon of Snow-shoes.
  • Listless, careless Shawondasee!
  • In his life he had one shadow,
  • In his heart one sorrow had he.
  • Once, as he was gazing northward,
  • Far away upon a prairie
  • He beheld a maiden standing,
  • Saw a tall and slender maiden
  • All alone upon a prairie;
  • Brightest green were all her garments,
  • And her hair was like the sunshine.
  • Day by day he gazed upon her,
  • Day by day he sighed with passion,
  • Day by day his heart within him
  • Grew more hot with love and longing
  • For the maid with yellow tresses.
  • But he was too fat and lazy
  • To bestir himself and woo her.
  • Yes, too indolent and easy
  • To pursue her and persuade her;
  • So he only gazed upon her,
  • Only sat and sighed with passion
  • For the maiden of the prairie.
  • Till one morning, looking northward,
  • He beheld her yellow tresses
  • Changed and covered o'er with whiteness,
  • Covered as with whitest snow-flakes.
  • "Ah! my brother from the North-land,
  • From the kingdom of Wabasso,
  • From the land of the White Rabbit!
  • You have stolen the maiden from me,
  • You have laid your hand upon her,
  • You have wooed and won my maiden,
  • With your stories of the North-land!"
  • Thus the wretched Shawondasee
  • Breathed into the air his sorrow;
  • And the South-Wind o'er the prairie
  • Wandered warm with sighs of passion,
  • With the sighs of Shawondasee,
  • Till the air seemed full of snow-flakes,
  • Full of thistle-down the prairie,
  • And the maid with hair like sunshine
  • Vanished from his sight forever;
  • Never more did Shawondasee
  • See the maid with yellow tresses!
  • Poor, deluded Shawondasee!
  • 'T was no woman that you gazed at,
  • 'T was no maiden that you sighed for,
  • 'T was the prairie dandelion
  • That through all the dreamy Summer
  • You had gazed at with such longing,
  • You had sighed for with such passion,
  • And had puffed away forever,
  • Blown into the air with sighing.
  • Ah! deluded Shawondasee!
  • Thus the Four Winds were divided
  • Thus the sons of Mudjekeewis
  • Had their stations in the heavens,
  • At the corners of the heavens;
  • For himself the West-Wind only
  • Kept the mighty Mudjekeewis.

III

Hiawatha's Childhood

 

  • Downward through the evening twilight,
  • In the days that are forgotten,
  • In the unremembered ages,
  • From the full moon fell Nokomis,
  • Fell the beautiful Nokomis,
  • She a wife, but not a mother.
  • She was sporting with her women,
  • Swinging in a swing of grape-vines,
  • When her rival the rejected,
  • Full of jealousy and hatred,
  • Cut the leafy swing asunder,
  • Cut in twain the twisted grape-vines,
  • And Nokomis fell affrighted
  • Downward through the evening twilight,
  • On the Muskoday, the meadow,
  • On the prairie full of blossoms.
  • "See! a star falls!" said the people;
  • "From the sky a star is falling!"
  • There among the ferns and mosses,
  • There among the prairie lilies,
  • On the Muskoday, the meadow,
  • In the moonlight and the starlight,
  • Fair Nokomis bore a daughter.
  • And she called her name Wenonah,
  • As the first-born of her daughters.
  • And the daughter of Nokomis
  • Grew up like the prairie lilies,
  • Grew a tall and slender maiden,
  • With the beauty of the moonlight,
  • With the beauty of the starlight.
  • And Nokomis warned her often,
  • Saying oft, and oft repeating,
  • "Oh, beware of Mudjekeewis,
  • Of the West-Wind, Mudjekeewis;
  • Listen not to what he tells you;
  • Lie not down upon the meadow,
  • Stoop not down among the lilies,
  • Lest the West-Wind come and harm you!"
  • But she heeded not the warning,
  • Heeded not those words of wisdom,
  • And the West-Wind came at evening,
  • Walking lightly o'er the prairie,
  • Whispering to the leaves and blossoms,
  • Bending low the flowers and grasses,
  • Found the beautiful Wenonah,
  • Lying there among the lilies,
  • Wooed her with his words of sweetness,
  • Wooed her with his soft caresses,
  • Till she bore a son in sorrow,
  • Bore a son of love and sorrow.
  • Thus was born my Hiawatha,
  • Thus was born the child of wonder;
  • But the daughter of Nokomis,
  • Hiawatha's gentle mother,
  • In her anguish died deserted
  • By the West-Wind, false and faithless,
  • By the heartless Mudjekeewis.
  • For her daughter long and loudly
  • Wailed and wept the sad Nokomis;
  • "Oh that I were dead!" she murmured,
  • "Oh that I were dead, as thou art!
  • No more work, and no more weeping,
  • Wahonowin! Wahonowin!"
  • By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
  • By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
  • Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
  • Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
  • Dark behind it rose the forest,
  • Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
  • Rose the firs with cones upon them;
  • Bright before it beat the water,
  • Beat the clear and sunny water,
  • Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
  • There the wrinkled old Nokomis
  • Nursed the little Hiawatha,
  • Rocked him in his linden cradle,
  • Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
  • Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
  • Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
  • "Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!"
  • Lulled him into slumber, singing,
  • "Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
  • Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
  • With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
  • Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"
  • Many things Nokomis taught him
  • Of the stars that shine in heaven;
  • Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet,
  • Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses;
  • Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits,
  • Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs,
  • Flaring far away to northward
  • In the frosty nights of Winter;
  • Showed the broad white road in heaven,
  • Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows,
  • Running straight across the heavens,
  • Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.
  • At the door on summer evenings
  • Sat the little Hiawatha;
  • Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
  • Heard the lapping of the waters,
  • Sounds of music, words of wonder;
  • "Minne-wawa!" said the Pine-trees,
  • "Mudway-aushka!" said the water.
  • Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-taysee,
  • Flitting through the dusk of evening,
  • With the twinkle of its candle
  • Lighting up the brakes and bushes,
  • And he sang the song of children,
  • Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
  • "Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
  • Little, flitting, white-fire insect,
  • Little, dancing, white-fire creature,
  • Light me with your little candle,
  • Ere upon my bed I lay me,
  • Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!"
  • Saw the moon rise from the water
  • Rippling, rounding from the water,
  • Saw the flecks and shadows on it,
  • Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
  • And the good Nokomis answered:
  • "Once a warrior, very angry,
  • Seized his grandmother, and threw her
  • Up into the sky at midnight;
  • Right against the moon he threw her;
  • 'T is her body that you see there."
  • Saw the rainbow in the heaven,
  • In the eastern sky, the rainbow,
  • Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
  • And the good Nokomis answered:
  • "'T is the heaven of flowers you see there;
  • All the wild-flowers of the forest,
  • All the lilies of the prairie,
  • When on earth they fade and perish,
  • Blossom in that heaven above us."
  • When he heard the owls at midnight,
  • Hooting, laughing in the forest,
  • "What is that?" he cried in terror,
  • "What is that," he said, "Nokomis?"
  • And the good Nokomis answered:
  • "That is but the owl and owlet,
  • Talking in their native language,
  • Talking, scolding at each other."
  • Then the little Hiawatha
  • Learned of every bird its language,
  • Learned their names and all their secrets,
  • How they built their nests in Summer,
  • Where they hid themselves in Winter,
  • Talked with them whene'er he met them,
  • Called them "Hiawatha's Chickens."
  • Of all beasts he learned the language,
  • Learned their names and all their secrets,
  • How the beavers built their lodges,
  • Where the squirrels hid their acorns,
  • How the reindeer ran so swiftly,
  • Why the rabbit was so timid,
  • Talked with them whene'er he met them,
  • Called them "Hiawatha's Brothers."
  • Then Iagoo, the great boaster,
  • He the marvellous story-teller,
  • He the traveller and the talker,
  • He the friend of old Nokomis,
  • Made a bow for Hiawatha;
  • From a branch of ash he made it,
  • From an oak-bough made the arrows,
  • Tipped with flint, and winged with feathers,
  • And the cord he made of deer-skin.
  • Then he said to Hiawatha:
  • "Go, my son, into the forest,
  • Where the red deer herd together,
  • Kill for us a famous roebuck,
  • Kill for us a deer with antlers!"
  • Forth into the forest straightway
  • All alone walked Hiawatha
  • Proudly, with his bow and arrows;
  • And the birds sang round him, o'er him,
  • "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!"
  • Sang the robin, the Opechee,
  • Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa,
  • "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!"
  • Up the oak-tree, close beside him,
  • Sprang the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
  • In and out among the branches,
  • Coughed and chattered from the oak-tree,
  • Laughed, and said between his laughing,
  • "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"
  • And the rabbit from his pathway
  • Leaped aside, and at a distance
  • Sat erect upon his haunches,
  • Half in fear and half in frolic,
  • Saying to the little hunter,
  • "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"
  • But he heeded not, nor heard them,
  • For his thoughts were with the red deer;
  • On their tracks his eyes were fastened,
  • Leading downward to the river,
  • To the ford across the river,
  • And as one in slumber walked he.
  • Hidden in the alder-bushes,
  • There he waited till the deer came,
  • Till he saw two antlers lifted,
  • Saw two eyes look from the thicket,
  • Saw two nostrils point to windward,
  • And a deer came down the pathway,
  • Flecked with leafy light and shadow.
  • And his heart within him fluttered,
  • Trembled like the leaves above him,
  • Like the birch-leaf palpitated,
  • As the deer came down the pathway.
  • Then, upon one knee uprising,
  • Hiawatha aimed an arrow;
  • Scarce a twig moved with his motion,
  • Scarce a leaf was stirred or rustled,
  • But the wary roebuck started,
  • Stamped with all his hoofs together,
  • Listened with one foot uplifted,
  • Leaped as if to meet the arrow;
  • Ah! the singing, fatal arrow,
  • Like a wasp it buzzed and stung him!
  • Dead he lay there in the forest,
  • By the ford across the river;
  • Beat his timid heart no longer,
  • But the heart of Hiawatha
  • Throbbed and shouted and exulted,
  • As he bore the red deer homeward,
  • And Iagoo and Nokomis
  • Hailed his coming with applauses.
  • From the red deer's hide Nokomis
  • Made a cloak for Hiawatha,
  • From the red deer's flesh Nokomis
  • Made a banquet to his honor.
  • All the village came and feasted,
  • All the guests praised Hiawatha,
  • Called him Strong-Heart, Soan-ge-taha!
  • Called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-go-taysee!

IV

Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis

 

  • Out of childhood into manhood
  • Now had grown my Hiawatha,
  • Skilled in all the craft of hunters,
  • Learned in all the lore of old men,
  • In all youthful sports and pastimes,
  • In all manly arts and labors.
  • Swift of foot was Hiawatha;
  • He could shoot an arrow from him,
  • And run forward with such fleetness,
  • That the arrow fell behind him!
  • Strong of arm was Hiawatha;
  • He could shoot ten arrows upward,
  • Shoot them with such strength and swiftness,
  • That the tenth had left the bow-string
  • Ere the first to earth had fallen!
  • He had mittens, Minjekahwun,
  • Magic mittens made of deer-skin;
  • When upon his hands he wore them,
  • He could smite the rocks asunder,
  • He could grind them into powder.
  • He had moccasins enchanted,
  • Magic moccasins of deer-skin;
  • When he bound them round his ankles,
  • When upon his feet he tied them,
  • At each stride a mile he measured!
  • Much he questioned old Nokomis
  • Of his father Mudjekeewis;
  • Learned from her the fatal secret
  • Of the beauty of his mother,
  • Of the falsehood of his father;
  • And his heart was hot within him,
  • Like a living coal his heart was.
  • Then he said to old Nokomis,
  • "I will go to Mudjekeewis,
  • See how fares it with my father,
  • At the doorways of the West-Wind,
  • At the portals of the Sunset!"
  • From his lodge went Hiawatha,
  • Dressed for travel, armed for hunting;
  • Dressed in deer-skin shirt and leggings,
  • Richly wrought with quills and wampum;
  • On his head his eagle-feathers,
  • Round his waist his belt of wampum,
  • In his hand his bow of ash-wood,
  • Strung with sinews of the reindeer;
  • In his quiver oaken arrows,
  • Tipped with jasper, winged with feathers;
  • With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
  • With his moccasins enchanted.
  • Warning said the old Nokomis,
  • "Go not forth, O Hiawatha!
  • To the kingdom of the West-Wind,
  • To the realms of Mudjekeewis,
  • Lest he harm you with his magic,
  • Lest he kill you with his cunning!"
  • But the fearless Hiawatha
  • Heeded not her woman's warning;
  • Forth he strode into the forest,
  • At each stride a mile he measured;
  • Lurid seemed the sky above him,
  • Lurid seemed the earth beneath him,
  • Hot and close the air around him,
  • Filled with smoke and fiery vapors,
  • As of burning woods and prairies,
  • For his heart was hot within him,
  • Like a living coal his heart was.
  • So he journeyed westward, westward,
  • Left the fleetest deer behind him,
  • Left the antelope and bison;
  • Crossed the rushing Esconaba,
  • Crossed the mighty Mississippi,
  • Passed the Mountains of the Prairie,
  • Passed the land of Crows and Foxes,
  • Passed the dwellings of the Blackfeet,
  • Came unto the Rocky Mountains,
  • To the kingdom of the West-Wind,
  • Where upon the gusty summits
  • Sat the ancient Mudjekeewis,
  • Ruler of the winds of heaven.
  • Filled with awe was Hiawatha
  • At the aspect of his father.
  • On the air about him wildly
  • Tossed and streamed his cloudy tresses,
  • Gleamed like drifting snow his tresses,
  • Glared like Ishkoodah, the comet,
  • Like the star with fiery tresses.
  • Filled with joy was Mudjekeewis
  • When he looked on Hiawatha,
  • Saw his youth rise up before him
  • In the face of Hiawatha,
  • Saw the beauty of Wenonah
  • From the grave rise up before him.
  • "Welcome!" said he, "Hiawatha,
  • To the kingdom of the West-Wind
  • Long have I been waiting for you
  • Youth is lovely, age is lonely,
  • Youth is fiery, age is frosty;
  • You bring back the days departed,
  • You bring back my youth of passion,
  • And the beautiful Wenonah!"
  • Many days they talked together,
  • Questioned, listened, waited, answered;
  • Much the mighty Mudjekeewis
  • Boasted of his ancient prowess,
  • Of his perilous adventures,
  • His indomitable courage,
  • His invulnerable body.
  • Patiently sat Hiawatha,
  • Listening to his father's boasting;
  • With a smile he sat and listened,
  • Uttered neither threat nor menace,
  • Neither word nor look betrayed him,
  • But his heart was hot within him,
  • Like a living coal his heart was.
  • Then he said, "O Mudjekeewis,
  • Is there nothing that can harm you?
  • Nothing that you are afraid of?"
  • And the mighty Mudjekeewis,
  • Grand and gracious in his boasting,
  • Answered, saying, "There is nothing,
  • Nothing but the black rock yonder,
  • Nothing but the fatal Wawbeek!"
  • And he looked at Hiawatha
  • With a wise look and benignant,
  • With a countenance paternal,
  • Looked with pride upon the beauty
  • Of his tall and graceful figure,
  • Saying, "O my Hiawatha!
  • Is there anything can harm you?
  • Anything you are afraid of?"
  • But the wary Hiawatha
  • Paused awhile, as if uncertain,
  • Held his peace, as if resolving,
  • And then answered, "There is nothing,
  • Nothing but the bulrush yonder,
  • Nothing but the great Apukwa!"
  • And as Mudjekeewis, rising,
  • Stretched his hand to pluck the bulrush,
  • Hiawatha cried in terror,
  • Cried in well-dissembled terror,
  • "Kago! kago! do not touch it!"
  • "Ah, kaween!" said Mudjekeewis,
  • "No indeed, I will not touch it!"
  • Then they talked of other matters;
  • First of Hiawatha's brothers,
  • First of Wabun, of the East-Wind,
  • Of the South-Wind, Shawondasee,
  • Of the North, Kabibonokka;
  • Then of Hiawatha's mother,
  • Of the beautiful Wenonah,
  • Of her birth upon the meadow,
  • Of her death, as old Nokomis
  • Had remembered and related.
  • And he cried, "O Mudjekeewis,
  • It was you who killed Wenonah,
  • Took her young life and her beauty,
  • Broke the Lily of the Prairie,
  • Trampled it beneath your footsteps;
  • You confess it! you confess it!"
  • And the mighty Mudjekeewis
  • Tossed upon the wind his tresses,
  • Bowed his hoary head in anguish,
  • With a silent nod assented.
  • Then up started Hiawatha,
  • And with threatening look and gesture
  • Laid his hand upon the black rock,
  • On the fatal Wawbeek laid it,
  • With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
  • Rent the jutting crag asunder,
  • Smote and crushed it into fragments,
  • Hurled them madly at his father,
  • The remorseful Mudjekeewis,
  • For his heart was hot within him,
  • Like a living coal his heart was.
  • But the ruler of the West-Wind
  • Blew the fragments backward from him,
  • With the breathing of his nostrils,
  • With the tempest of his anger,
  • Blew them back at his assailant;
  • Seized the bulrush, the Apukwa,
  • Dragged it with its roots and fibres
  • From the margin of the meadow,
  • From its ooze the giant bulrush;
  • Long and loud laughed Hiawatha!
  • Then began the deadly conflict,
  • Hand to hand among the mountains;
  • From his eyry screamed the eagle,
  • The Keneu, the great war-eagle,
  • Sat upon the crags around them,
  • Wheeling flapped his wings above them.
  • Like a tall tree in the tempest
  • Bent and lashed the giant bulrush;
  • And in masses huge and heavy
  • Crashing fell the fatal Wawbeek;
  • Till the earth shook with the tumult
  • And confusion of the battle,
  • And the air was full of shoutings,
  • And the thunder of the mountains,
  • Starting, answered, "Baim-wawa!"
  • Back retreated Mudjekeewis,
  • Rushing westward o'er the mountains,
  • Stumbling westward down the mountains,
  • Three whole days retreated fighting,
  • Still pursued by Hiawatha
  • To the doorways of the West-Wind,
  • To the portals of the Sunset,
  • To the earth's remotest border,
  • Where into the empty spaces
  • Sinks the sun, as a flamingo
  • Drops into her nest at nightfall
  • In the melancholy marshes.
  • "Hold!" at length cried Mudjekeewis,
  • "Hold, my son, my Hiawatha!
  • 'T is impossible to kill me,
  • For you cannot kill the immortal
  • I have put you to this trial,
  • But to know and prove your courage;
  • Now receive the prize of valor!
  • "Go back to your home and people,
  • Live among them, toil among them,
  • Cleanse the earth from all that harms it,
  • Clear the fishing-grounds and rivers,
  • Slay all monsters and magicians,
  • All the Wendigoes, the giants,
  • All the serpents, the Kenabeeks,
  • As I slew the Mishe-Mokwa,
  • Slew the Great Bear of the mountains.
  • "And at last when Death draws near you,
  • When the awful eyes of Pauguk
  • Glare upon you in the darkness,
  • I will share my kingdom with you,
  • Ruler shall you be thenceforward
  • Of the Northwest-Wind, Keewaydin,
  • Of the home-wind, the Keewaydin."
  • Thus was fought that famous battle
  • In the dreadful days of Shah-shah,
  • In the days long since departed,
  • In the kingdom of the West-Wind.
  • Still the hunter sees its traces
  • Scattered far o'er hill and valley;
  • Sees the giant bulrush growing
  • By the ponds and water-courses,
  • Sees the masses of the Wawbeek
  • Lying still in every valley.
  • Homeward now went Hiawatha;
  • Pleasant was the landscape round him,
  • Pleasant was the air above him,
  • For the bitterness of anger
  • Had departed wholly from him,
  • From his brain the thought of vengeance,
  • From his heart the burning fever.
  • Only once his pace he slackened,
  • Only once he paused or halted,
  • Paused to purchase heads of arrows
  • Of the ancient Arrow-maker,
  • In the land of the Dacotahs,
  • Where the Falls of Minnehaha
  • Flash and gleam among the oak-trees,
  • Laugh and leap into the valley.
  • There the ancient Arrow-maker
  • Made his arrow-heads of sandstone,
  • Arrow-heads of chalcedony,
  • Arrow-heads of flint and jasper,
  • Smoothed and sharpened at the edges,
  • Hard and polished, keen and costly.
  • With him dwelt his dark-eyed daughter,
  • Wayward as the Minnehaha,
  • With her moods of shade and sunshine,
  • Eyes that smiled and frowned alternate,
  • Feet as rapid as the river,
  • Tresses flowing like the water,
  • And as musical a laughter:
  • And he named her from the river,
  • From the water-fall he named her,
  • Minnehaha, Laughing Water.
  • Was it then for heads of arrows,
  • Arrow-heads of chalcedony,
  • Arrow-heads of flint and jasper,
  • That my Hiawatha halted
  • In the land of the Dacotahs?
  • Was it not to see the maiden,
  • See the face of Laughing Water
  • Peeping from behind the curtain,
  • Hear the rustling of her garments
  • From behind the waving curtain,
  • As one sees the Minnehaha
  • Gleaming, glancing through the branches,
  • As one hears the Laughing Water
  • From behind its screen of branches?
  • Who shall say what thoughts and visions
  • Fill the fiery brains of young men?
  • Who shall say what dreams of beauty
  • Filled the heart of Hiawatha?
  • All he told to old Nokomis,
  • When he reached the lodge at sunset,
  • Was the meeting with his father,
  • Was his fight with Mudjekeewis;
  • Not a word he said of arrows,
  • Not a word of Laughing Water.

V

Hiawatha's Fasting

 

  • You shall hear how Hiawatha
  • Prayed and fasted in the forest,
  • Not for greater skill in hunting,
  • Not for greater craft in fishing,
  • Not for triumphs in the battle,
  • And renown among the warriors,
  • But for profit of the people,
  • For advantage of the nations.
  • First he built a lodge for fasting,
  • Built a wigwam in the forest,
  • By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
  • In the blithe and pleasant Spring-time,
  • In the Moon of Leaves he built it,
  • And, with dreams and visions many,
  • Seven whole days and nights he fasted.
  • On the first day of his fasting
  • Through the leafy woods he wandered;
  • Saw the deer start from the thicket,
  • Saw the rabbit in his burrow,
  • Heard the pheasant, Bena, drumming,
  • Heard the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
  • Rattling in his hoard of acorns,
  • Saw the pigeon, the Omeme,
  • Building nests among the pinetrees,
  • And in flocks the wild-goose, Wawa,
  • Flying to the fen-lands northward,
  • Whirring, wailing far above him.
  • "Master of Life!" he cried, desponding,
  • "Must our lives depend on these things?"
  • On the next day of his fasting
  • By the river's brink he wandered,
  • Through the Muskoday, the meadow,
  • Saw the wild rice, Mahnomonee,
  • Saw the blueberry, Meenahga,
  • And the strawberry, Odahmin,
  • And the gooseberry, Shahbomin,
  • And the grape-vine, the Bemahgut,
  • Trailing o'er the alder-branches,
  • Filling all the air with fragrance!
  • "Master of Life!" he cried, desponding,
  • "Must our lives depend on these things?"
  • On the third day of his fasting
  • By the lake he sat and pondered,
  • By the still, transparent water;
  • Saw the sturgeon, Nahma, leaping,
  • Scattering drops like beads of wampum,
  • Saw the yellow perch, the Sahwa,
  • Like a sunbeam in the water,
  • Saw the pike, the Maskenozha,
  • And the herring, Okahahwis,
  • And the Shawgashee, the crawfish!
  • "Master of Life!" he cried, desponding,
  • "Must our lives depend on these things?"
  • On the fourth day of his fasting
  • In his lodge he lay exhausted;
  • From his couch of leaves and branches
  • Gazing with half-open eyelids,
  • Full of shadowy dreams and visions,
  • On the dizzy, swimming landscape,
  • On the gleaming of the water,
  • On the splendor of the sunset.
  • And he saw a youth approaching,
  • Dressed in garments green and yellow,
  • Coming through the purple twilight,
  • Through the splendor of the sunset;
  • Plumes of green bent o'er his forehead,
  • And his hair was soft and golden.
  • Standing at the open doorway,
  • Long he looked at Hiawatha,
  • Looked with pity and compassion
  • On his wasted form and features,
  • And, in accents like the sighing
  • Of the South-Wind in the tree-tops,
  • Said he, "O my Hiawatha!
  • All your prayers are heard in heaven,
  • For you pray not like the others;
  • Not for greater skill in hunting,
  • Not for greater craft in fishing,
  • Not for triumph in the battle,
  • Nor renown among the warriors,
  • But for profit of the people,
  • For advantage of the nations.
  • "From the Master of Life descending,
  • I, the friend of man, Mondamin,
  • Come to warn you and instruct you,
  • How by struggle and by labor
  • You shall gain what you have prayed for.
  • Rise up from your bed of branches,
  • Rise, O youth, and wrestle with me!"
  • Faint with famine, Hiawatha
  • Started from his bed of branches,
  • From the twilight of his wigwam
  • Forth into the flush of sunset
  • Came, and wrestled with Mondamin;
  • At his touch he felt new courage
  • Throbbing in his brain and bosom,
  • Felt new life and hope and vigor
  • Run through every nerve and fibre.
  • So they wrestled there together
  • In the glory of the sunset,
  • And the more they strove and struggled,
  • Stronger still grew Hiawatha;
  • Till the darkness fell around them,
  • And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
  • From her nest among the pine-trees,
  • Gave a cry of lamentation,
  • Gave a scream of pain and famine.
  • "'T Is enough!" then said Mondamin,
  • Smiling upon Hiawatha,
  • "But tomorrow, when the sun sets,
  • I will come again to try you."
  • And he vanished, and was seen not;
  • Whether sinking as the rain sinks,
  • Whether rising as the mists rise,
  • Hiawatha saw not, knew not,
  • Only saw that he had vanished,
  • Leaving him alone and fainting,
  • With the misty lake below him,
  • And the reeling stars above him.
  • On the morrow and the next day,
  • When the sun through heaven descending,
  • Like a red and burning cinder
  • From the hearth of the Great Spirit,
  • Fell into the western waters,
  • Came Mondamin for the trial,
  • For the strife with Hiawatha;
  • Came as silent as the dew comes,
  • From the empty air appearing,
  • Into empty air returning,
  • Taking shape when earth it touches,
  • But invisible to all men
  • In its coming and its going.
  • Thrice they wrestled there together
  • In the glory of the sunset,
  • Till the darkness fell around them,
  • Till the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
  • From her nest among the pine-trees,
  • Uttered her loud cry of famine,
  • And Mondamin paused to listen.
  • Tall and beautiful he stood there,
  • In his garments green and yellow;
  • To and fro his plumes above him,
  • Waved and nodded with his breathing,
  • And the sweat of the encounter
  • Stood like drops of dew upon him.
  • And he cried, "O Hiawatha!
  • Bravely have you wrestled with me,
  • Thrice have wrestled stoutly with me,
  • And the Master of Life, who sees us,
  • He will give to you the triumph!"
  • Then he smiled, and said: "To-morrow
  • Is the last day of your conflict,
  • Is the last day of your fasting.
  • You will conquer and o'ercome me;
  • Make a bed for me to lie in,
  • Where the rain may fall upon me,
  • Where the sun may come and warm me;
  • Strip these garments, green and yellow,
  • Strip this nodding plumage from me,
  • Lay me in the earth, and make it
  • Soft and loose and light above me.
  • "Let no hand disturb my slumber,
  • Let no weed nor worm molest me,
  • Let not Kahgahgee, the raven,
  • Come to haunt me and molest me,
  • Only come yourself to watch me,
  • Till I wake, and start, and quicken,
  • Till I leap into the sunshine"
  • And thus saying, he departed;
  • Peacefully slept Hiawatha,
  • But he heard the Wawonaissa,
  • Heard the whippoorwill complaining,
  • Perched upon his lonely wigwam;
  • Heard the rushing Sebowisha,
  • Heard the rivulet rippling near him,
  • Talking to the darksome forest;
  • Heard the sighing of the branches,
  • As they lifted and subsided
  • At the passing of the night-wind,
  • Heard them, as one hears in slumber
  • Far-off murmurs, dreamy whispers:
  • Peacefully slept Hiawatha.
  • On the morrow came Nokomis,
  • On the seventh day of his fasting,
  • Came with food for Hiawatha,
  • Came imploring and bewailing,
  • Lest his hunger should o'ercome him,
  • Lest his fasting should be fatal.
  • But he tasted not, and touched not,
  • Only said to her, "Nokomis,
  • Wait until the sun is setting,
  • Till the darkness falls around us,
  • Till the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
  • Crying from the desolate marshes,
  • Tells us that the day is ended."
  • Homeward weeping went Nokomis,
  • Sorrowing for her Hiawatha,
  • Fearing lest his strength should fail him,
  • Lest his fasting should be fatal.
  • He meanwhile sat weary waiting
  • For the coming of Mondamin,
  • Till the shadows, pointing eastward,
  • Lengthened over field and forest,
  • Till the sun dropped from the heaven,
  • Floating on the waters westward,
  • As a red leaf in the Autumn
  • Falls and floats upon the water,
  • Falls and sinks into its bosom.
  • And behold! the young Mondamin,
  • With his soft and shining tresses,
  • With his garments green and yellow,
  • With his long and glossy plumage,
  • Stood and beckoned at the doorway.
  • And as one in slumber walking,
  • Pale and haggard, but undaunted,
  • From the wigwam Hiawatha
  • Came and wrestled with Mondamin.
  • Round about him spun the landscape,
  • Sky and forest reeled together,
  • And his strong heart leaped within him,
  • As the sturgeon leaps and struggles
  • In a net to break its meshes.
  • Like a ring of fire around him
  • Blazed and flared the red horizon,
  • And a hundred suns seemed looking
  • At the combat of the wrestlers.
  • Suddenly upon the greensward
  • All alone stood Hiawatha,
  • Panting with his wild exertion,
  • Palpitating with the struggle;
  • And before him breathless, lifeless,
  • Lay the youth, with hair dishevelled,
  • Plumage torn, and garments tattered,
  • Dead he lay there in the sunset.
  • And victorious Hiawatha
  • Made the grave as he commanded,
  • Stripped the garments from Mondamin,
  • Stripped his tattered plumage from him,
  • Laid him in the earth, and made it
  • Soft and loose and light above him;
  • And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
  • From the melancholy moorlands,
  • Gave a cry of lamentation,
  • Gave a cry of pain and anguish!
  • Homeward then went Hiawatha
  • To the lodge of old Nokomis,
  • And the seven days of his fasting
  • Were accomplished and completed.
  • But the place was not forgotten
  • Where he wrestled with Mondamin;
  • Nor forgotten nor neglected
  • Was the grave where lay Mondamin,
  • Sleeping in the rain and sunshine,
  • Where his scattered plumes and garments
  • Faded in the rain and sunshine.
  • Day by day did Hiawatha
  • Go to wait and watch beside it;
  • Kept the dark mould soft above it,
  • Kept it clean from weeds and insects,
  • Drove away, with scoffs and shoutings,
  • Kahgahgee, the king of ravens.
  • Till at length a small green feather
  • From the earth shot slowly upward,
  • Then another and another,
  • And before the Summer ended
  • Stood the maize in all its beauty,
  • With its shining robes about it,
  • And its long, soft, yellow tresses;
  • And in rapture Hiawatha
  • Cried aloud, "It is Mondamin!
  • Yes, the friend of man, Mondamin!"
  • Then he called to old Nokomis
  • And Iagoo, the great boaster,
  • Showed them where the maize was growing,
  • Told them of his wondrous vision,
  • Of his wrestling and his triumph,
  • Of this new gift to the nations,
  • Which should be their food forever.
  • And still later, when the Autumn
  • Changed the long, green leaves to yellow,
  • And the soft and juicy kernels
  • Grew like wampum hard and yellow,
  • Then the ripened ears he gathered,
  • Stripped the withered husks from off them,
  • As he once had stripped the wrestler,
  • Gave the first Feast of Mondamin,
  • And made known unto the people
  • This new gift of the Great Spirit.

VI

Hiawatha's Friends

 

  • Two good friends had Hiawatha,
  • Singled out from all the others,
  • Bound to him in closest union,
  • And to whom he gave the right hand
  • Of his heart, in joy and sorrow;
  • Chibiabos, the musician,
  • And the very strong man, Kwasind.
  • Straight between them ran the pathway,
  • Never grew the grass upon it;
  • Singing birds, that utter falsehoods,
  • Story-tellers, mischief-makers,
  • Found no eager ear to listen,
  • Could not breed ill-will between them,
  • For they kept each other's counsel,
  • Spake with naked hearts together,
  • Pondering much and much contriving
  • How the tribes of men might prosper.
  • Most beloved by Hiawatha
  • Was the gentle Chibiabos,
  • He the best of all musicians,
  • He the sweetest of all singers.
  • Beautiful and childlike was he,
  • Brave as man is, soft as woman,
  • Pliant as a wand of willow,
  • Stately as a deer with antlers.
  • When he sang, the village listened;
  • All the warriors gathered round him,
  • All the women came to hear him;
  • Now he stirred their souls to passion,
  • Now he melted them to pity.
  • From the hollow reeds he fashioned
  • Flutes so musical and mellow,
  • That the brook, the Sebowisha,
  • Ceased to murmur in the woodland,
  • That the wood-birds ceased from singing,
  • And the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
  • Ceased his chatter in the oak-tree,
  • And the rabbit, the Wabasso,
  • Sat upright to look and listen.
  • Yes, the brook, the Sebowisha,
  • Pausing, said, "O Chibiabos,
  • Teach my waves to flow in music,
  • Softly as your words in singing!"
  • Yes, the bluebird, the Owaissa,
  • Envious, said, "O Chibiabos,
  • Teach me tones as wild and wayward,
  • Teach me songs as full of frenzy!"
  • Yes, the robin, the Opechee,
  • Joyous, said, "O Chibiabos,
  • Teach me tones as sweet and tender,
  • Teach me songs as full of gladness!"
  • And the whippoorwill, Wawonaissa,
  • Sobbing, said, "O Chibiabos,
  • Teach me tones as melancholy,
  • Teach me songs as full of sadness!"
  • All the many sounds of nature
  • Borrowed sweetness from his singing;
  • All the hearts of men were softened
  • By the pathos of his music;
  • For he sang of peace and freedom,
  • Sang of beauty, love, and longing;
  • Sang of death, and life undying
  • In the Islands of the Blessed,
  • In the kingdom of Ponemah,
  • In the land of the Hereafter.
  • Very dear to Hiawatha
  • Was the gentle Chibiabos,
  • He the best of all musicians,
  • He the sweetest of all singers;
  • For his gentleness he loved him,
  • And the magic of his singing.
  • Dear, too, unto Hiawatha
  • Was the very strong man, Kwasind,
  • He the strongest of all mortals,
  • He the mightiest among many;
  • For his very strength he loved him,
  • For his strength allied to goodness.
  • Idle in his youth was Kwasind,
  • Very listless, dull, and dreamy,
  • Never played with other children,
  • Never fished and never hunted,
  • Not like other children was he;
  • But they saw that much he fasted,
  • Much his Manito entreated,
  • Much besought his Guardian Spirit.
  • "Lazy Kwasind!" said his mother,
  • "In my work you never help me!
  • In the Summer you are roaming
  • Idly in the fields and forests;
  • In the Winter you are cowering
  • O'er the firebrands in the wigwam!
  • In the coldest days of Winter
  • I must break the ice for fishing;
  • With my nets you never help me!
  • At the door my nets are hanging,
  • Dripping, freezing with the water;
  • Go and wring them, Yenadizze!
  • Go and dry them in the sunshine!"
  • Slowly, from the ashes, Kwasind
  • Rose, but made no angry answer;
  • From the lodge went forth in silence,
  • Took the nets, that hung together,
  • Dripping, freezing at the doorway;
  • Like a wisp of straw he wrung them,
  • Like a wisp of straw he broke them,
  • Could not wring them without breaking,
  • Such the strength was in his fingers.
  • "Lazy Kwasind!" said his father,
  • "In the hunt you never help me;
  • Every bow you touch is broken,
  • Snapped asunder every arrow;
  • Yet come with me to the forest,
  • You shall bring the hunting homeward."
  • Down a narrow pass they wandered,
  • Where a brooklet led them onward,
  • Where the trail of deer and bison
  • Marked the soft mud on the margin,
  • Till they found all further passage
  • Shut against them, barred securely
  • By the trunks of trees uprooted,
  • Lying lengthwise, lying crosswise,
  • And forbidding further passage.
  • "We must go back," said the old man,
  • "O'er these logs we cannot clamber;
  • Not a woodchuck could get through them,
  • Not a squirrel clamber o'er them!"
  • And straightway his pipe he lighted,
  • And sat down to smoke and ponder.
  • But before his pipe was finished,
  • Lo! the path was cleared before him;
  • All the trunks had Kwasind lifted,
  • To the right hand, to the left hand,
  • Shot the pine-trees swift as arrows,
  • Hurled the cedars light as lances.
  • "Lazy Kwasind!" said the young men,
  • As they sported in the meadow:
  • "Why stand idly looking at us,
  • Leaning on the rock behind you?
  • Come and wrestle with the others,
  • Let us pitch the quoit together!"
  • Lazy Kwasind made no answer,
  • To their challenge made no answer,
  • Only rose, and slowly turning,
  • Seized the huge rock in his fingers,
  • Tore it from its deep foundation,
  • Poised it in the air a moment,
  • Pitched it sheer into the river,
  • Sheer into the swift Pauwating,
  • Where it still is seen in Summer.
  • Once as down that foaming river,
  • Down the rapids of Pauwating,
  • Kwasind sailed with his companions,
  • In the stream he saw a beaver,
  • Saw Ahmeek, the King of Beavers,
  • Struggling with the rushing currents,
  • Rising, sinking in the water.
  • Without speaking, without pausing,
  • Kwasind leaped into the river,
  • Plunged beneath the bubbling surface,
  • Through the whirlpools chased the beaver,
  • Followed him among the islands,
  • Stayed so long beneath the water,
  • That his terrified companions
  • Cried, "Alas! good-by to Kwasind!
  • We shall never more see Kwasind!"
  • But he reappeared triumphant,
  • And upon his shining shoulders
  • Brought the beaver, dead and dripping,
  • Brought the King of all the Beavers.
  • And these two, as I have told you,
  • Were the friends of Hiawatha,
  • Chibiabos, the musician,
  • And the very strong man, Kwasind.
  • Long they lived in peace together,
  • Spake with naked hearts together,
  • Pondering much and much contriving
  • How the tribes of men might prosper.

VII

Hiawatha's Sailing


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