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 water, 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!
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.
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 pine-trees, 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.
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.
"Give me of your bark, O Birch-tree! Of your yellow bark, O Birch-tree! Growing by the rushing river, Tall and stately in the valley! I a light canoe will build me, Build a swift Cheemaun for sailing, That shall float on the river, Like a yellow leaf in Autumn, Like a yellow water-lily! "Lay aside your cloak, O Birch-tree! Lay aside your white-skin wrapper, For the Summer-time is coming, And the sun is warm in heaven, And you need no white-skin wrapper!" Thus aloud cried Hiawatha In the solitary forest, By the rushing Taquamenaw, When the birds were singing gayly, In the Moon of Leaves were singing, And the sun, from sleep awaking, Started up and said, "Behold me! Gheezis, the great Sun, behold me!" And the tree with all its branches Rustled in the breeze of morning, Saying, with a sigh of patience, "Take my cloak, O Hiawatha!" With his knife the tree he girdled; Just beneath its lowest branches, Just above the roots, he cut it, Till the sap came oozing outward; Down the trunk, from top to bottom, Sheer he cleft the bark asunder, With a wooden wedge he raised it, Stripped it from the trunk unbroken. "Give me of your boughs, O Cedar! Of your strong and pliant branches, My canoe to make more steady, Make more strong and firm beneath me!" Through the summit of the Cedar Went a sound, a cry of horror, Went a murmur of resistance; But it whispered, bending downward, 'Take my boughs, O Hiawatha!" Down he hewed the boughs of cedar, Shaped them straightway to a framework, Like two bows he formed and shaped them, Like two bended bows together. "Give me of your roots, O Tamarack! Of your fibrous roots, O Larch-tree! My canoe to bind together, So to bind the ends together That the water may not enter, That the river may not wet me!" And the Larch, with all its fibres, Shivered in the air of morning, Touched his forehead with its tassels, Slid, with one long sigh of sorrow. "Take them all, O Hiawatha!" From the earth he tore the fibres, Tore the tough roots of the Larch-tree, Closely sewed the bark together, Bound it closely to the frame-work. "Give me of your balm, O Fir-tree! Of your balsam and your resin, So to close the seams together That the water may not enter, That the river may not wet me!" And the Fir-tree, tall and sombre, Sobbed through all its robes of darkness, Rattled like a shore with pebbles, Answered wailing, answered weeping, "Take my balm, O Hiawatha!" And he took the tears of balsam, Took the resin of the Fir-tree, Smeared therewith each seam and fissure, Made each crevice safe from water. "Give me of your quills, O Hedgehog! All your quills, O Kagh, the Hedgehog! I will make a necklace of them, Make a girdle for my beauty, And two stars to deck her bosom!" From a hollow tree the Hedgehog With his sleepy eyes looked at him, Shot his shining quills, like arrows, Saying with a drowsy murmur, Through the tangle of his whiskers, "Take my quills, O Hiawatha!" From the ground the quills he gathered, All the little shining arrows, Stained them red and blue and yellow, With the juice of roots and berries; Into his canoe he wrought them, Round its waist a shining girdle, Round its bows a gleaming necklace, On its breast two stars resplendent. Thus the Birch Canoe was builded In the valley, by the river, In the bosom of the forest; And the forest's life was in it, All its mystery and its magic, All the lightness of the birch-tree, All the toughness of the cedar, All the larch's supple sinews; And it floated on the river Like a yellow leaf in Autumn, Like a yellow water-lily. Paddles none had Hiawatha, Paddles none he had or needed, For his thoughts as paddles served him, And his wishes served to guide him; Swift or slow at will he glided, Veered to right or left at pleasure. Then he called aloud to Kwasind, To his friend, the strong man, Kwasind, Saying, "Help me clear this river Of its sunken logs and sand-bars." Straight into the river Kwasind Plunged as if he were an otter, Dived as if he were a beaver, Stood up to his waist in water, To his arm-pits in the river, Swam and scouted in the river, Tugged at sunken logs and branches, With his hands he scooped the sand-bars, With his feet the ooze and tangle. And thus sailed my Hiawatha Down the rushing Taquamenaw, Sailed through all its bends and windings, Sailed through all its deeps and shallows, While his friend, the strong man, Kwasind, Swam the deeps, the shallows waded. Up and down the river went they, In and out among its islands, Cleared its bed of root and sand-bar, Dragged the dead trees from its channel, Made its passage safe and certain, Made a pathway for the people, From its springs among the mountains, To the waters of Pauwating, To the bay of Taquamenaw.
Forth upon the Gitche Gumee, On the shining Big-Sea-Water, With his fishing-line of cedar, Of the twisted bark of cedar, Forth to catch the sturgeon Nahma, Mishe-Nahma, King of Fishes, In his birch canoe exulting All alone went Hiawatha. Through the clear, transparent water He could see the fishes swimming Far down in the depths below him; See the yellow perch, the Sahwa, Like a sunbeam in the water, See the Shawgashee, the craw-fish, Like a spider on the bottom, On the white and sandy bottom. At the stern sat Hiawatha, With his fishing-line of cedar; In his plumes the breeze of morning Played as in the hemlock branches; On the bows, with tail erected, Sat the squirrel, Adjidaumo; In his fur the breeze of morning Played as in the prairie grasses. On the white sand of the bottom Lay the monster Mishe-Nahma, Lay the sturgeon, King of Fishes; Through his gills he breathed the water, With his fins he fanned and winnowed, With his tail he swept the sand-floor. There he lay in all his armor; On each side a shield to guard him, Plates of bone upon his forehead, Down his sides and back and shoulders Plates of bone with spines projecting Painted was he with his war-paints, Stripes of yellow, red, and azure, Spots of brown and spots of sable; And he lay there on the bottom, Fanning with his fins of purple, As above him Hiawatha In his birch canoe came sailing, With his fishing-line of cedar. "Take my bait," cried Hiawatha, Down into the depths beneath him, "Take my bait, O Sturgeon, Nahma! Come up from below the water, Let us see which is the stronger!" And he dropped his line of cedar Through the clear, transparent water, Waited vainly for an answer, Long sat waiting for an answer, And repeating loud and louder, "Take my bait, O King of Fishes!" Quiet lay the sturgeon, Nahma, Fanning slowly in the water, Looking up at Hiawatha, Listening to his call and clamor, His unnecessary tumult, Till he wearied of the shouting; And he said to the Kenozha, To the pike, the Maskenozha, "Take the bait of this rude fellow, Break the line of Hiawatha!" In his fingers Hiawatha Felt the loose line jerk and tighten; As he drew it in, it tugged so That the birch canoe stood endwise, Like a birch log in the water, With the squirrel, Adjidaumo, Perched and frisking on the summit. Full of scorn was Hiawatha When he saw the fish rise upward, Saw the pike, the Maskenozha, Coming nearer, nearer to him, And he shouted through the water, "Esa! esa! shame upon you! You are but the pike, Kenozha, You are not the fish I wanted, You are not the King of Fishes!" Reeling downward to the bottom Sank the pike in great confusion, And the mighty sturgeon, Nahma, Said to Ugudwash, the sun-fish, To the bream, with scales of crimson, "Take the bait of this great boaster, Break the line of Hiawatha!" Slowly upward, wavering, gleaming, Rose the Ugudwash, the sun-fish, Seized the line of Hiawatha, Swung with all his weight upon it, Made a whirlpool in the water, Whirled the birch canoe in circles, Round and round in gurgling eddies, Till the circles in the water Reached the far-off sandy beaches, Till the water-flags and rushes Nodded on the distant margins. But when Hiawatha saw him Slowly rising through the water, Lifting up his disk refulgent, Loud he shouted in derision, "Esa! esa! shame upon you! You are Ugudwash, the sun-fish, You are not the fish I wanted, You are not the King of Fishes!" Slowly downward, wavering, gleaming, Sank the Ugudwash, the sun-fish, And again the sturgeon, Nahma, Heard the shout of Hiawatha, Heard his challenge of defiance, The unnecessary tumult, Ringing far across the water. From the white sand of the bottom Up he rose with angry gesture, Quivering in each nerve and fibre, Clashing all his plates of armor, Gleaming bright with all his war-paint; In his wrath he darted upward, Flashing leaped into the sunshine, Opened his great jaws, and swallowed Both canoe and Hiawatha. Down into that darksome cavern Plunged the headlong Hiawatha, As a log on some black river Shoots and plunges down the rapids, Found himself in utter darkness, Groped about in helpless wonder, Till he felt a great heart beating, Throbbing in that utter darkness. And he smote it in his anger, With his fist, the heart of Nahma, Felt the mighty King of Fishes Shudder through each nerve and fibre, Heard the water gurgle round him As he leaped and staggered through it, Sick at heart, and faint and weary. Crosswise then did Hiawatha Drag his birch-canoe for safety, Lest from out the jaws of Nahma, In the turmoil and confusion, Forth he might be hurled and perish. And the squirrel, Adjidaumo, Frisked and chatted very gayly, Toiled and tugged with Hiawatha Till the labor was completed. Then said Hiawatha to him, "O my little friend, the squirrel, Bravely have you toiled to help me; Take the thanks of Hiawatha, And the name which now he gives you; For hereafter and forever Boys shall call you Adjidaumo, Tail-in-air the boys shall call you!" And again the sturgeon, Nahma, Gasped and quivered in the water, Then was still, and drifted landward Till he grated on the pebbles, Till the listening Hiawatha Heard him grate upon the margin, Felt him strand upon the pebbles, Knew that Nahma, King of Fishes, Lay there dead upon the margin. Then he heard a clang and flapping, As of many wings assembling, Heard a screaming and confusion, As of birds of prey contending, Saw a gleam of light above him, Shining through the ribs of Nahma, Saw the glittering eyes of sea-gulls, Of Kayoshk, the sea-gulls, peering, Gazing at him through the opening, Heard them saying to each other, "'T is our brother, Hiawatha!" And he shouted from below them, Cried exulting from the caverns: "O ye sea-gulls! O my brothers! I have slain the sturgeon, Nahma; Make the rifts a little larger, With your claws the openings widen, Set me free from this dark prison, And henceforward and forever Men shall speak of your achievements, Calling you Kayoshk, the sea-gulls, Yes, Kayoshk, the Noble Scratchers!" And the wild and clamorous sea-gulls Toiled with beak and claws together, Made the rifts and openings wider In the mighty ribs of Nahma, And from peril and from prison, From the body of the sturgeon, From the peril of the water, They released my Hiawatha. He was standing near his wigwam, On the margin of the water, And he called to old Nokomis, Called and beckoned to Nokomis, Pointed to the sturgeon, Nahma, Lying lifeless on the pebbles, With the sea-gulls feeding on him. "I have slain the Mishe-Nahma, Slain the King of Fishes!" said he; "Look! the sea-gulls feed upon him, Yes, my friends Kayoshk, the sea-gulls; Drive them not away, Nokomis, They have saved me from great peril In the body of the sturgeon, Wait until their meal is ended, Till their craws are full with feasting, Till they homeward fly, at sunset, To their nests among the marshes; Then bring all your pots and kettles, And make oil for us in Winter." And she waited till the sun set, Till the pallid moon, the Night-sun, Rose above the tranquil water, Till Kayoshk, the sated sea-gulls, From their banquet rose with clamor, And across the fiery sunset Winged their way to far-off islands, To their nests among the rushes. To his sleep went Hiawatha, And Nokomis to her labor, Toiling patient in the moonlight, Till the sun and moon changed places, Till the sky was red with sunrise, And Kayoshk, the hungry sea-gulls, Came back from the reedy islands, Clamorous for their morning banquet. Three whole days and nights alternate Old Nokomis and the sea-gulls Stripped the oily flesh of Nahma, Till the waves washed through the rib-bones, Till the sea-gulls came no longer, And upon the sands lay nothing But the skeleton of Nahma.
HIAWATHA AND THE PEARL-FEATHER
On the shores of Gitche Gumee, Of the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood Nokomis, the old woman, Pointing with her finger westward, O'er the water pointing westward, To the purple clouds of sunset. Fiercely the red sun descending Burned his way along the heavens, Set the sky on fire behind him, As war-parties, when retreating, Burn the prairies on their war-trail; And the moon, the Night-sun, eastward, Suddenly starting from his ambush, Followed fast those bloody footprints, Followed in that fiery war-trail, With its glare upon his features. And Nokomis, the old woman, Pointing with her finger westward, Spake these words to Hiawatha: "Yonder dwells the great Pearl-Feather, Megissogwon, the Magician, Manito of Wealth and Wampum, Guarded by his fiery serpents, Guarded by the black pitch-water. You can see his fiery serpents, The Kenabeek, the great serpents, Coiling, playing in the water; You can see the black pitch-water Stretching far away beyond them, To the purple clouds of sunset! "He it was who slew my father, By his wicked wiles and cunning, When he from the moon descended, When he came on earth to seek me. He, the mightiest of Magicians, Sends the fever from the marshes, Sends the pestilential vapors, Sends the poisonous exhalations, Sends the white fog from the fen-lands, Sends disease and death among us! "Take your bow, O Hiawatha, Take your arrows, jasper-headed, Take your war-club, Puggawaugun, And your mittens, Minjekahwun, And your birch-canoe for sailing, And the oil of Mishe-Nahma, So to smear its sides, that swiftly You may pass the black pitch-water; Slay this merciless magician, Save the people from the fever That he breathes across the fen-lands, And avenge my father's murder!" Straightway then my Hiawatha Armed himself with all his war-gear, Launched his birch-canoe for sailing; With his palm its sides he patted, Said with glee, "Cheemaun, my darling, O my Birch-canoe! leap forward, Where you see the fiery serpents, Where you see the black pitch-water!" Forward leaped Cheemaun exulting, And the noble Hiawatha Sang his war-song wild and woful, And above him the war-eagle, The Keneu, the great war-eagle, Master of all fowls with feathers, Screamed and hurtled through the heavens. Soon he reached the fiery serpents, The Kenabeek, the great serpents, Lying huge upon the water, Sparkling, rippling in the water, Lying coiled across the passage, With their blazing crests uplifted, Breathing fiery fogs and vapors, So that none could pass beyond them. But the fearless Hiawatha Cried aloud, and spake in this wise: "Let me pass my way, Kenabeek, Let me go upon my journey!" And they answered, hissing fiercely, With their fiery breath made answer: "Back, go back! O Shaugodaya! Back to old Nokomis, Faint-heart!" Then the angry Hiawatha Raised his mighty bow of ash-tree, Seized his arrows, jasper-headed, Shot them fast among the serpents; Every twanging of the bow-string Was a war-cry and a death-cry, Every whizzing of an arrow Was a death-song of Kenabeek. Weltering in the bloody water, Dead lay all the fiery serpents, And among them Hiawatha Harmless sailed, and cried exulting: "Onward, O Cheemaun, my darling! Onward to the black pitch-water!" Then he took the oil of Nahma, And the bows and sides anointed, Smeared them well with oil, that swiftly He might pass the black pitch-water. All night long he sailed upon it, Sailed upon that sluggish water, Covered with its mould of ages, Black with rotting water-rushes, Rank with flags and leaves of lilies, Stagnant, lifeless, dreary, dismal, Lighted by the shimmering moonlight, And by will-o'-the-wisps illumined, Fires by ghosts of dead men kindled, In their weary night-encampments. All the air was white with moonlight, All the water black with shadow, And around him the Suggema, The mosquito, sang his war-song, And the fire-flies, Wah-wah-taysee, Waved their torches to mislead him; And the bull-frog, the Dahinda, Thrust his head into the moonlight, Fixed his yellow eyes upon him, Sobbed and sank beneath the surface; And anon a thousand whistles, Answered over all the fen-lands, And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, Far off on the reedy margin, Heralded the hero's coming. Westward thus fared Hiawatha, Toward the realm of Megissogwon, Toward the land of the Pearl-Feather, Till the level moon stared at him, In his face stared pale and haggard, Till the sun was hot behind him, Till it burned upon his shoulders, And before him on the upland He could see the Shining Wigwam Of the Manito of Wampum, Of the mightiest of Magicians. Then once more Cheemaun he patted, To his birch-canoe said, "Onward!" And it stirred in all its fibres, And with one great bound of triumph Leaped across the water-lilies, Leaped through tangled flags and rushes, And upon the beach beyond them Dry-shod landed Hiawatha. Straight he took his bow of ash-tree, On the sand one end he rested, With his knee he pressed the middle, Stretched the faithful bow-string tighter, Took an arrow, jasper-headed, Shot it at the Shining Wigwam, Sent it singing as a herald, As a bearer of his message, Of his challenge loud and lofty: "Come forth from your lodge, Pearl-Feather! Hiawatha waits your coming!" Straightway from the Shining Wigwam Came the mighty Megissogwon, Tall of stature, broad of shoulder, Dark and terrible in aspect, Clad from head to foot in wampum, Armed with all his warlike weapons, Painted like the sky of morning, Streaked with crimson, blue, and yellow, Crested with great eagle-feathers, Streaming upward, streaming outward. "Well I know you, Hiawatha!" Cried he in a voice of thunder, In a tone of loud derision. "Hasten back, O Shaugodaya! Hasten back among the women, Back to old Nokomis, Faint-heart! I will slay you as you stand there, As of old I slew her father!" But my Hiawatha answered, Nothing daunted, fearing nothing: "Big words do not smite like war-clubs, Boastful breath is not a bow-string, Taunts are not so sharp as arrows, Deeds are better things than words are, Actions mightier than boastings!" Then began the greatest battle That the sun had ever looked on, That the war-birds ever witnessed. All a Summer's day it lasted, From the sunrise to the sunset; For the shafts of Hiawatha Harmless hit the shirt of wampum, Harmless fell the blows he dealt it With his mittens, Minjekahwun, Harmless fell the heavy war-club; It could dash the rocks asunder, But it could not break the meshes Of that magic shirt of wampum. Till at sunset Hiawatha, Leaning on his bow of ash-tree, Wounded, weary, and desponding, With his mighty war-club broken, With his mittens torn and tattered, And three useless arrows only, Paused to rest beneath a pine-tree, From whose branches trailed the mosses, And whose trunk was coated over With the Dead-man's Moccasin-leather, With the fungus white and yellow. Suddenly from the boughs above him Sang the Mama, the woodpecker: "Aim your arrows, Hiawatha, At the head of Megissogwon, Strike the tuft of hair upon it, At their roots the long black tresses; There alone can he be wounded!" Winged with feathers, tipped with jasper, Swift flew Hiawatha's arrow, Just as Megissogwon, stooping, Raised a heavy stone to throw it. Full upon the crown it struck him, At the roots of his long tresses, And he reeled and staggered forward, Plunging like a wounded bison, Yes, like Pezhekee, the bison, When the snow is on the prairie. Swifter flew the second arrow, In the pathway of the other, Piercing deeper than the other, Wounding sorer than the other; And the knees of Megissogwon Shook like windy reeds beneath him, Bent and trembled like the rushes. But the third and latest arrow Swiftest flew, and wounded sorest, And the mighty Megissogwon Saw the fiery eyes of Pauguk, Saw the eyes of Death glare at him, Heard his voice call in the darkness; At the feet of Hiawatha Lifeless lay the great Pearl-Feather, Lay the mightiest of Magicians. Then the grateful Hiawatha Called the Mama, the woodpecker, From his perch among the branches Of the melancholy pine-tree, And, in honor of his service, Stained with blood the tuft of feathers On the little head of Mama; Even to this day he wears it, Wears the tuft of crimson feathers, As a symbol of his service. Then he stripped the shirt of wampum From the back of Megissogwon, As a trophy of the battle, As a signal of his conquest. On the shore he left the body, Half on land and half in water, In the sand his feet were buried, And his face was in the water. And above him, wheeled and clamored The Keneu, the great war-eagle, Sailing round in narrower circles, Hovering nearer, nearer, nearer. From the wigwam Hiawatha Bore the wealth of Megissogwon, All his wealth of skins and wampum, Furs of bison and of beaver, Furs of sable and of ermine, Wampum belts and strings and pouches, Quivers wrought with beads of wampum, Filled with arrows, silver-headed. Homeward then he sailed exulting, Homeward through the black pitch-water, Homeward through the weltering serpents, With the trophies of the battle, With a shout and song of triumph. On the shore stood old Nokomis, On the shore stood Chibiabos, And the very strong man, Kwasind, Waiting for the hero's coming, Listening to his songs of triumph. And the people of the village Welcomed him with songs and dances, Made a joyous feast, and shouted: "Honor be to Hiawatha! He has slain the great Pearl-Feather, Slain the mightiest of Magicians, Him, who sent the fiery fever, Sent the white fog from the fen-lands, Sent disease and death among us!" Ever dear to Hiawatha Was the memory of Mama! And in token of his friendship, As a mark of his remembrance, He adorned and decked his pipe-stem With the crimson tuft of feathers, With the blood-red crest of Mama. But the wealth of Megissogwon, All the trophies of the battle, He divided with his people, Shared it equally among them.
"As unto the bow the cord is, So unto the man is woman; Though she bends him, she obeys him, Though she draws him, yet she follows, Useless each without the other!" Thus the youthful Hiawatha Said within himself and pondered, Much perplexed by various feelings, Listless, longing, hoping, fearing, Dreaming still of Minnehaha, Of the lovely Laughing Water, In the land of the Dacotahs. "Wed a maiden of your people," Warning said the old Nokomis; "Go not eastward, go not westward, For a stranger, whom we know not! Like a fire upon the hearth-stone Is a neighbor's homely daughter, Like the starlight or the moonlight Is the handsomest of strangers!" Thus dissuading spake Nokomis, And my Hiawatha answered Only this: "Dear old Nokomis, Very pleasant is the firelight, But I like the starlight better, Better do I like the moonlight!" Gravely then said old Nokomis: "Bring not here an idle maiden, Bring not here a useless woman, Hands unskilful, feet unwilling; Bring a wife with nimble fingers, Heart and hand that move together, Feet that run on willing errands!" Smiling answered Hiawatha: "In the land of the Dacotahs Lives the Arrow-maker's daughter, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, Handsomest of all the women. I will bring her to your wigwam, She shall run upon your errands, Be your starlight, moonlight, firelight, Be the sunlight of my people!" Still dissuading said Nokomis: "Bring not to my lodge a stranger From the land of the Dacotahs! Very fierce are the Dacotahs, Often is there war between us, There are feuds yet unforgotten, Wounds that ache and still may open!" Laughing answered Hiawatha: "For that reason, if no other, Would I wed the fair Dacotah, That our tribes might be united, That old feuds might be forgotten, And old wounds be healed forever!" Thus departed Hiawatha To the land of the Dacotahs, To the land of handsome women; Striding over moor and meadow, Through interminable forests, Through uninterrupted silence. With his moccasins of magic, At each stride a mile he measured; Yet the way seemed long before him, And his heart outran his footsteps; And he journeyed without resting, Till he heard the cataract's laughter, Heard the Falls of Minnehaha Calling to him through the silence. "Pleasant is the sound!" he murmured, "Pleasant is the voice that calls me!" On the outskirts of the forests, 'Twixt the shadow and the sunshine, Herds of fallow deer were feeding, But they saw not Hiawatha; To his bow he whispered, "Fail not!" To his arrow whispered, "Swerve not!" Sent it singing on its errand, To the red heart of the roebuck; Threw the deer across his shoulder, And sped forward without pausing. At the doorway of his wigwam Sat the ancient Arrow-maker, In the land of the Dacotahs, Making arrow-heads of jasper, Arrow-heads of chalcedony. At his side, in all her beauty, Sat the lovely Minnehaha, Sat his daughter, Laughing Water, Plaiting mats of flags and rushes Of the past the old man's thoughts were, And the maiden's of the future. He was thinking, as he sat there, Of the days when with such arrows He had struck the deer and bison, On the Muskoday, the meadow; Shot the wild goose, flying southward On the wing, the clamorous Wawa; Thinking of the great war-parties, How they came to buy his arrows, Could not fight without his arrows. Ah, no more such noble warriors Could be found on earth as they were! Now the men were all like women, Only used their tongues for weapons! She was thinking of a hunter, From another tribe and country, Young and tall and very handsome, Who one morning, in the Spring-time, Came to buy her father's arrows, Sat and rested in the wigwam, Lingered long about the doorway, Looking back as he departed. She had heard her father praise him, Praise his courage and his wisdom; Would he come again for arrows To the Falls of Minnehaha? On the mat her hands lay idle, And her eyes were very dreamy. Through their thoughts they heard a footstep, Heard a rustling in the branches, And with glowing cheek and forehead, With the deer upon his shoulders, Suddenly from out the woodlands Hiawatha stood before them. Straight the ancient Arrow-maker Looked up gravely from his labor, Laid aside the unfinished arrow, Bade him enter at the doorway, Saying, as he rose to meet him, 'Hiawatha, you are welcome!" At the feet of Laughing Water Hiawatha laid his burden, Threw the red deer from his shoulders; And the maiden looked up at him, Looked up from her mat of rushes, Said with gentle look and accent, "You are welcome, Hiawatha!" Very spacious was the wigwam, Made of deer-skins dressed and whitened, With the Gods of the Dacotahs Drawn and painted on its curtains, And so tall the doorway, hardly Hiawatha stooped to enter, Hardly touched his eagle-feathers As he entered at the doorway. Then uprose the Laughing Water, From the ground fair Minnehaha, Laid aside her mat unfinished, Brought forth food and set before them, Water brought them from the brooklet, Gave them food in earthen vessels, Gave them drink in bowls of bass-wood, Listened while the guest was speaking, Listened while her father answered, But not once her lips she opened, Not a single word she uttered. Yes, as in a dream she listened To the words of Hiawatha, As he talked of old Nokomis, Who had nursed him in his childhood, As he told of his companions, Chibiabos, the musician, And the very strong man, Kwasind, And of happiness and plenty In the land of the Ojibways, In the pleasant land and peaceful. "After many years of warfare, Many years of strife and bloodshed, There is peace between the Ojibways And the tribe of the Dacotahs." Thus continued Hiawatha, And then added, speaking slowly, "That this peace may last forever, And our hands be clasped more closely, And our hearts be more united, Give me as my wife this maiden, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, Loveliest of Dacotah women!" And the ancient Arrow-maker Paused a moment ere he answered, Smoked a little while in silence, Looked at Hiawatha proudly, Fondly looked at Laughing Water, And made answer very gravely: "Yes, if Minnehaha wishes; Let your heart speak, Minnehaha!" And the lovely Laughing Water Seemed more lovely as she stood there, Neither willing nor reluctant, As she went to Hiawatha, Softly took the seat beside him, While she said, and blushed to say it, "I will follow you, my husband!" This was Hiawatha's wooing! Thus it was he won the daughter Of the ancient Arrow-maker, In the land of the Dacotahs! From the wigwam he departed, Leading with him Laughing Water; Hand in hand they went together, Through the woodland and the meadow, Left the old man standing lonely At the doorway of his wigwam, Heard the Falls of Minnehaha Calling to them from the distance, Crying to them from afar off, "Fare thee well, O Minnehaha!" And the ancient Arrow-maker Turned again unto his labor, Sat down by his sunny doorway, Murmuring to himself, and saying: "Thus it is our daughters leave us, Those we love, and those who love us! Just when they have learned to help us, When we are old and lean upon them, Comes a youth with flaunting feathers, With his flute of reeds, a stranger Wanders piping through the village, Beckons to the fairest maiden, And she follows where he leads her, Leaving all things for the stranger!" Pleasant was the journey homeward, Through interminable forests, Over meadow, over mountain, Over river, hill, and hollow. Short it seemed to Hiawatha, Though they journeyed very slowly, Though his pace he checked and slackened To the steps of Laughing Water. Over wide and rushing rivers In his arms he bore the maiden; Light he thought her as a feather, As the plume upon his head-gear; Cleared the tangled pathway for her, Bent aside the swaying branches, Made at night a lodge of branches, And a bed with boughs of hemlock, And a fire before the doorway With the dry cones of the pine-tree. All the travelling winds went with them, O'er the meadows, through the forest; All the stars of night looked at them, Watched with sleepless eyes their slumber; From his ambush in the oak-tree Peeped the squirrel, Adjidaumo, Watched with eager eyes the lovers; And the rabbit, the Wabasso, Scampered from the path before them, Peering, peeping from his burrow, Sat erect upon his haunches, Watched with curious eyes the lovers. Pleasant was the journey homeward! All the birds sang loud and sweetly Songs of happiness and heart's-ease; Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa, "Happy are you, Hiawatha, Having such a wife to love you!" Sang the robin, the Opechee, "Happy are you, Laughing Water, Having such a noble husband!" From the sky the sun benignant Looked upon them through the branches, Saying to them, "O my children, Love is sunshine, hate is shadow, Life is checkered shade and sunshine, Rule by love, O Hiawatha!" From the sky the moon looked at them, Filled the lodge with mystic splendors, Whispered to them, "O my children, Day is restless, night is quiet, Man imperious, woman feeble; Half is mine, although I follow; Rule by patience, Laughing Water!" Thus it was they journeyed homeward; Thus it was that Hiawatha To the lodge of old Nokomis Brought the moonlight, starlight, firelight, Brought the sunshine of his people, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, Handsomest of all the women In the land of the Dacotahs, In the land of handsome women.
You shall hear how Pau-Puk-Keewis, How the handsome Yenadizze Danced at Hiawatha's wedding; How the gentle Chibiabos, He the sweetest of musicians, Sang his songs of love and longing; How Iagoo, the great boaster, He the marvellous story-teller, Told his tales of strange adventure, That the feast might be more joyous, That the time might pass more gayly, And the guests be more contented. Sumptuous was the feast Nokomis Made at Hiawatha's wedding; All the bowls were made of bass-wood, White and polished very smoothly, All the spoons of horn of bison, Black and polished very smoothly. She had sent through all the village Messengers with wands of willow, As a sign of invitation, As a token of the feasting; And the wedding guests assembled, Clad in all their richest raiment, Robes of fur and belts of wampum, Splendid with their paint and plumage, Beautiful with beads and tassels. First they ate the sturgeon, Nahma, And the pike, the Maskenozha, Caught and cooked by old Nokomis; Then on pemican they feasted, Pemican and buffalo marrow, Haunch of deer and hump of bison, Yellow cakes of the Mondamin, And the wild rice of the river. But the gracious Hiawatha, And the lovely Laughing Water, And the careful old Nokomis, Tasted not the food before them, Only waited on the others Only served their guests in silence. And when all the guests had finished, Old Nokomis, brisk and busy, From an ample pouch of otter, Filled the red-stone pipes for smoking With tobacco from the South-land, Mixed with bark of the red willow, And with herbs and leaves of fragrance. Then she said, "O Pau-Puk-Keewis, Dance for us your merry dances, Dance the Beggar's Dance to please us, That the feast may be more joyous, That the time may pass more gayly, And our guests be more contented!" Then the handsome Pau-Puk-Keewis, He the idle Yenadizze, He the merry mischief-maker, Whom the people called the Storm-Fool, Rose among the guests assembled. Skilled was he in sports and pastimes, In the merry dance of snow-shoes, In the play of quoits and ball-play; Skilled was he in games of hazard, In all games of skill and hazard, Pugasaing, the Bowl and Counters, Kuntassoo, the Game of Plum-stones. Though the warriors called him Faint-Heart, Called him coward, Shaugodaya, Idler, gambler, Yenadizze, Little heeded he their jesting, Little cared he for their insults, For the women and the maidens Loved the handsome Pau-Puk-Keewis. He was dressed in shirt of doeskin, White and soft, and fringed with ermine, All inwrought with beads of wampum; He was dressed in deer-skin leggings, Fringed with hedgehog quills and ermine, And in moccasins of buck-skin, Thick with quills and beads embroidered. On his head were plumes of swan's down, On his heels were tails of foxes, In one hand a fan of feathers, And a pipe was in the other. Barred with streaks of red and yellow, Streaks of blue and bright vermilion, Shone the face of Pau-Puk-Keewis. From his forehead fell his tresses, Smooth, and parted like a woman's, Shining bright with oil, and plaited, Hung with braids of scented grasses, As among the guests assembled, To the sound of flutes and singing, To the sound of drums and voices, Rose the handsome Pau-Puk-Keewis, And began his mystic dances. First he danced a solemn measure, Very slow in step and gesture, In and out among the pine-trees, Through the shadows and the sunshine, Treading softly like a panther. Then more swiftly and still swifter, Whirling, spinning round in circles, Leaping o'er the guests assembled, Eddying round and round the wigwam, Till the leaves went whirling with him, Till the dust and wind together Swept in eddies round about him. Then along the sandy margin Of the lake, the Big-Sea-Water, On he sped with frenzied gestures, Stamped upon the sand, and tossed it Wildly in the air around him; Till the wind became a whirlwind, Till the sand was blown and sifted Like great snowdrifts o'er the landscape, Heaping all the shores with Sand Dunes, Sand Hills of the Nagow Wudjoo! Thus the merry Pau-Puk-Keewis Danced his Beggar's Dance to please them, And, returning, sat down laughing There among the guests assembled, Sat and fanned himself serenely With his fan of turkey-feathers. Then they said to Chibiabos, To the friend of Hiawatha, To the sweetest of all singers, To the best of all musicians, "Sing to us, O Chibiabos! Songs of love and songs of longing, That the feast may be more joyous, That the time may pass more gayly, And our guests be more contented!" And the gentle Chibiabos Sang in accents sweet and tender, Sang in tones of deep emotion, Songs of love and songs of longing; Looking still at Hiawatha, Looking at fair Laughing Water, Sang he softly, sang in this wise: "Onaway! Awake, beloved! Thou the wild-flower of the forest! Thou the wild-bird of the prairie! Thou with eyes so soft and fawn-like! "If thou only lookest at me, I am happy, I am happy, As the lilies of the prairie, When they feel the dew upon them! "Sweet thy breath is as the fragrance Of the wild-flowers in the morning, As their fragrance is at evening, In the Moon when leaves are falling. "Does not all the blood within me Leap to meet thee, leap to meet thee, As the springs to meet the sunshine, In the Moon when nights are brightest? "Onaway! my heart sings to thee, Sings with joy when thou art near me, As the sighing, singing branches In the pleasant Moon of Strawberries! "When thou art not pleased, beloved, Then my heart is sad and darkened, As the shining river darkens When the clouds drop shadows on it! "When thou smilest, my beloved, Then my troubled heart is brightened, As in sunshine gleam the ripples That the cold wind makes in rivers. "Smiles the earth, and smile the waters, Smile the cloudless skies above us, But I lose the way of smiling When thou art no longer near me! "I myself, myself! behold me! Blood of my beating heart, behold me! Oh awake, awake, beloved! Onaway! awake, beloved!" Thus the gentle Chibiabos Sang his song of love and longing; And Iagoo, the great boaster, He the marvellous story-teller, He the friend of old Nokomis, Jealous of the sweet musician, Jealous of the applause they gave him, Saw in all the eyes around him, Saw in all their looks and gestures, That the wedding guests assembled Longed to hear his pleasant stories, His immeasurable falsehoods. Very boastful was Iagoo; Never heard he an adventure But himself had met a greater; Never any deed of daring But himself had done a bolder; Never any marvellous story But himself could tell a stranger. Would you listen to his boasting, Would you only give him credence, No one ever shot an arrow Half so far and high as he had; Ever caught so many fishes, Ever killed so many reindeer, Ever trapped so many beaver! None could run so fast as he could, None could dive so deep as he could, None could swim so far as he could; None had made so many journeys, None had seen so many wonders, As this wonderful Iagoo, As this marvellous story-teller! Thus his name became a by-word And a jest among the people; And whene'er a boastful hunter Praised his own address too highly, Or a warrior, home returning, Talked too much of his achievements, All his hearers cried, "Iagoo! Here's Iagoo come among us!" He it was who carved the cradle Of the little Hiawatha, Carved its framework out of linden, Bound it strong with reindeer sinews; He it was who taught him later How to make his bows and arrows, How to make the bows of ash-tree, And the arrows of the oak-tree. So among the guests assembled At my Hiawatha's wedding Sat Iagoo, old and ugly, Sat the marvellous story-teller. And they said, "O good Iagoo, Tell us now a tale of wonder, Tell us of some strange adventure, That the feast may be more joyous, That the time may pass more gayly, And our guests be more contented!" And Iagoo answered straightway, "You shall hear a tale of wonder, You shall hear the strange adventures Of Osseo, the Magician, From the Evening Star descending."
THE SON OF THE EVENING STAR
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 jests 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 eldest 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 thistledown 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 us 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.
BLESSING THE CORNFIELDS
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 Cornfields! 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 cornfields, Draw a magic circle round them, To protect them from destruction, Blast of mildew, blight of insect, Wagemin, the thief of cornfields, 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 cornfields, 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 cornfields 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 cornfields, Drew the sacred, magic circle Of her footprints round the cornfields. 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 cornfields 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 cornfields, 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 cornfields, 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 ardor, 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 cornfields, 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 cornfields, Mimicked in their gait and gestures Some old man, bent almost double, Singing singly or together: "Wagemin, the thief of cornfields! Paimosaid, who steals the maize-ear!" Till the cornfields 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!