"Ah, my son, I bid you welcome; Sit and tell me your adventures; I will tell you of my power; We will pass the night together." Thus spake Peboean—the Winter; Then he filled his pipe and lighted; Then by sacred custom raised it To the spirits in the ether; To the spirits in the caverns Of the hollow earth he lowered it. Thus he passed it to the spirits, And the unseen spirits puffed it. Next himself old Peboean honored; Thrice he puffed his pipe and passed it, Passed it to the handsome stranger.
"Lo I blow my breath," said Winter, "And the laughing brooks are silent. Hard as flint become the waters, And the rabbit runs upon them."
Then Segun, the fair youth, answered: "Lo I breathe upon the hillsides, On the valleys and the meadows, And behold as if by magic— By the magic of the spirits, Spring the flowers and tender grasses."
Then old Peboean replying: "Nah! I breathe upon the forests, And the leaves fall sere and yellow; Then I shake my locks and snow falls, Covering all the naked landscape."
Then Segun arose and answered: "Nashke!—see!—I shake my ringlets; On the earth the warm rain falleth, And the flowers look up like children Glad-eyed from their mother's bosom. Lo my voice recalls the robin, Brings the bobolink and bluebird, And the woods are full of music. With my breath I melt their fetters, And the brooks leap laughing onward."
Then old Peboean looked upon him, Looked and knew Segun, the Summer. From his eyes the big tears started And his boastful tongue was silent. Now Keezis—the great life-giver, From his wigwam in Waubu-nong Rose and wrapped his shining blanket Round his giant form and started, Westward started on his journey, Striding on from hill to hill-top. Upward then he climbed the ether— On the Bridge of Stars he traveled, Westward traveled on his journey To the far-off Sunset Mountains— To the gloomy land of shadows.
On the lodge-poles sang the robin— And the brooks began to murmur. On the South-wind floated fragrance Of the early buds and blossoms. From old Peboean's eyes the tear-drops Down his pale face ran in streamlets; Less and less he grew in stature Till he melted down to nothing; And behold, from out the ashes, From the ashes of his lodge-fire, Sprang the Miscodeed and, blushing, Welcomed Segun to the North-land.
So from Sunny Isles returning, From the Summer-Land of spirits, On the poles of Panther's wigwam Sang Opee-chee—sang the robin. In the maples cooed the pigeons— Cooed and wooed like silly lovers. "Hah!—hah!" laughed the crow derisive, In the pine-top, at their folly— Laughed and jeered the silly lovers. Blind with love were they, and saw not; Deaf to all but love, and heard not; So they cooed and wooed unheeding, Till the gray hawk pounced upon them, And the old crow shook with laughter.
On the tall cliff by the sea-shore Red Fox made a swing. She fastened Thongs of moose-hide to the pine-tree, To the strong arm of the pine-tree. Like a hawk, above the waters, There she swung herself and fluttered, Laughing at the thought of danger, Swung and fluttered o'er the waters. Then she bantered Sea-Gull, saying, "See!—I swing above the billows! Dare you swing above the billows— Swing like me above the billows?"
To herself said Sea-Gull—"Surely I will dare whatever danger Dares the Red Fox—dares my rival; She shall never call me coward." So she swung above the waters— Dizzy height above the waters, Pushed and aided by her rival, To and fro with reckless daring, Till the strong tree rocked and trembled, Rocked and trembled with its burden. As above the yawning billows Flew the Sea-Gull like a whirlwind, Red Fox, swifter than red lightning, Cut the thongs, and headlong downward, Like an osprey from the ether, Like a wild-goose pierced with arrows, Fluttering fell the frantic woman, Fluttering fell into the waters— Plunged and sunk beneath the waters! Hark!—the wailing of the West-wind! Hark!—the wailing of the waters, And the beating of the billows! But no more the voice of Sea-Gull.
In the wigwam sat the Red Fox, Hushed the wail of Waub-omee-mee, Weeping for her absent mother. With the twinkling stars the hunter From the forest came and Raven. "Sea-Gull wanders late," said Red Fox, "Late she wanders by the sea-shore, And some evil may befall her." In the misty morning twilight Forth went Panther and the Raven, Searched the forest and the marshes, Searched for leagues along the lake-shore, Searched the islands and the highlands; But they found no trace or tidings, Found no track in marsh or meadow, Found no trail in fen or forest, On the shore-sand found no footprints. Many days they sought and found not. Then to Panther spoke the Raven: "She is in the Land of Spirits— Surely in the Land of Spirits. High at midnight I beheld her— Like a flying star beheld her— To the waves of Gitchee Gumee Downward flashing through the ether. Thus she flashed that I might see her, See and know my mother's spirit; Thus she pointed to the waters, And beneath them lies her body, In the wigwam of the spirits— In the lodge of Nebe-naw-baigs."
Then spoke Panther to the Raven: "On the tall cliff by the waters Wait and watch with Waub-omee-mee. If the Sea-Gull hear the wailing Of her infant she will answer."
On the tall cliff by the waters So the Raven watched and waited; All the day he watched and waited, But the hungry infant slumbered, Slumbered by the side of Raven, Till the pines' gigantic shadows Stretched and pointed to Waubu-nong— To the far-off land of Sunrise; Then the wee one woke and, famished, Made a long and piteous wailing.
From afar where sky and waters Meet in misty haze and mingle, Straight toward the rocky highland, Straight as flies the feathered arrow, Straight to Raven and the infant, Swiftly flew a snow-white sea-gull— Flew and touched the earth a woman. And behold, the long-lost mother Caught her wailing child and nursed her, Sang a lullaby and nursed her.
Thrice was wound a chain of silver Round her waist and strongly fastened. Far away into the waters— To the wigwam of the spirits— To the lodge of Nebe-naw-baigs— Stretched the magic chain of silver. Spoke the mother to the Raven: "O my son—my brave young hunter, Feed my tender little orphan; Be a father to my orphan; Be a mother to my orphan— For the crafty Red Fox robbed us— Robbed the Sea-Gull of her husband, Robbed the infant of her mother. From this cliff the treacherous woman Headlong into Gitchee Gumee Plunged the mother of my orphan. Then a Nebe-naw-baig caught me— Chief of all the Nebe-naw-baigs— Took me to his shining wigwam, In the cavern of the waters, Deep beneath the mighty waters. All below is burnished copper, All above is burnished silver Gemmed with amethyst and agates. As his wife the Spirit holds me; By this silver chain he holds me.
"When my little one is famished, When with long and piteous wailing Cries the orphan for her mother, Hither bring her, O my Raven; I will hear her—I will answer. Now the Nebe-naw-baig calls me— Pulls the chain—I must obey him." Thus she spoke, and in the twinkling Of a star the spirit-woman Changed into a snow-white sea-gull, Spread her wings and o'er the waters Swiftly flew and swiftly vanished. Then in secret to the Panther Raven told his tale of wonder. Sad and sullen was the hunter; Sorrow gnawed his heart like hunger; All the old love came upon him, And the new love was a hatred. Hateful to his heart was Red Fox, But he kept from her the secret— Kept his knowledge of the murder. Vain was she and very haughty— Oge-ma-kwa of the wigwam. All in vain her fond caresses On the Panther now she lavished; When she smiled his face was sullen, When she laughed he frowned upon her; In her net of raven tresses Now no more she held him tangled. Now through all her fair disguises Panther saw an evil spirit, Saw the false heart of the woman.
On the tall cliff o'er the waters Raven sat with Waub-omee-mee, Sat and watched again and waited, Till the wee one, faint and famished, Made a long and piteous wailing. Then again the snow-white Sea-Gull, From afar where sky and waters Meet in misty haze and mingle, Straight toward the rocky highland, Straight as flies the feathered arrow, Straight to Raven and the infant, With the silver chain around her, Flew and touched the earth a woman. In her arms she caught her infant— Caught the wailing Waub-omee-mee, Sang a lullaby and nursed her. Sprang the Panther from the thicket— Sprang and broke the chain of silver! With his tomahawk he broke it. Thus he freed the willing Sea-Gull— From the Water-Spirit freed her, From the Chief of Nebe-naw-baigs.
Very angry was the Spirit; When he drew the chain of silver, Drew and found that it was broken, Found that he had lost the woman, Very angry was the Spirit. Then he raged beneath the waters, Raged and smote the mighty waters, Till the big sea boiled and bubbled, Till the white-haired, bounding billows Roared around the rocky headlands, Rolled and roared upon the shingle.
To the wigwam happy Panther, As when first he wooed and won her Led his wife—as young and handsome. For the waves of Gitchee Gumee Washed away the frost and wrinkles, And the spirits by their magic Made her young and fair forever.
In the wigwam sat the Red Fox, Sat and sang a song of triumph, For she little dreamed of danger, Till the haughty hunter entered, Followed by the happy mother, Holding in her arms her infant. When the Red Fox saw the Sea-Gull— Saw the dead a living woman, One wild cry she gave despairing, One wild cry as of a demon. Up she sprang and from the wigwam To the tall cliff flew in terror; Frantic sprang upon the margin, Frantic plunged into the waters, Headlong plunged into the waters.
Dead she tossed upon the billows; For the Nebe-naw-baigs knew her, Knew the crafty, wicked woman, And they cast her from the waters, Spurned her from their shining wigwams; Far away upon the shingle With the roaring waves they cast her. There upon her bloated body Fed the cawing crows and ravens, Fed the hungry wolves and foxes.
On the shore of Gitchee Gumee, Ever young and ever handsome, Long and happy lived the Sea-Gull, Long and happy with the Panther. Evermore the happy hunter Loved the mother of his children. Like a red star many winters Blazed their lodge-fire on the sea-shore. O'er the Bridge of Souls together Walked the Sea-Gull and the Panther. To the far-off Sunny Islands— To the Summer-Land of Spirits, Sea-Gull journeyed with her husband— Where no more the happy hunter Feels the fangs of frost or famine, Or the keen blasts of Kewaydin, Where no pain or sorrow enters, And no crafty, wicked woman. There she rules his lodge forever, And the twain are very happy, On the far-off Sunny Islands, In the Summer-Land of Spirits. On the rocks of Gitchee Gumee— On the Pictured Rocks—the legend Long ago was traced and written, Pictured by the Water-Spirits; But the storms of many winters Have bedimmed the pictured story, So that none can read the legend But the Jossakeeds, the prophets.
I had rather write one word upon the rock Of ages than ten thousand in the sand. The rock of ages! lo I cannot reach Its lofty shoulders with my puny hand: I can but touch the sands about its feet. Yea, I have painted pictures for the blind, And sung my sweetest songs to ears of stone. What matter if the dust of ages drift Five fathoms deep above my grave unknown, For I have sung and loved the songs I sung. Who sings for fame the Muses may disown; Who sings for gold will sing an idle song; But he who sings because sweet music springs Unbidden from his heart and warbles long, May haply touch another heart unknown. There is sweeter poetry in the hearts of men Than ever poet wrote or minstrel sung; For words are clumsy wings for burning thought. The full heart falters on the stammering tongue, And silence is more eloquent than song When tender souls are wrung by grief or shameful wrong.
The grandest poem is God's Universe: In measured rhythm the planets whirl their course: Rhythm swells and throbs in every sun and star, In mighty ocean's organ-peals and roar, In billows bounding on the harbor-bar, In the blue surf that rolls upon the shore, In the low zephyr's sigh, the tempest's sob, In the rain's patter and the thunder's roar; Aye, in the awful earthquake's shuddering throb, When old Earth cracks her bones and trembles to her core.
I hear a piper piping on a reed To listening flocks of sheep and bearded goats; I hear the larks shrill-warbling o'er the mead Their silver sonnets from their golden throats; And in my boyhood's clover-fields I hear The twittering swallows and the hum of bees. Ah, sweeter to my heart and to my ear Than any idyl poet ever sung, The low, sweet music of their melodies; Because I listened when my soul was young, In those dear meadows under maple trees. My heart they molded when its clay was moist, And all my life the hum of honey-bees Hath waked in me a spirit that rejoiced, And touched the trembling chords of tenderest memories.
I hear loud voices and a clamorous throng With braying bugles and with bragging drums— Bards and bardies laboring at a song. One lifts his locks, above the rest preferred, And to the buzzing flies of fashion thrums A banjo. Lo him follow all the herd. When Nero's wife put on her auburn wig, And at the Coliseum showed her head, The hair of every dame in Rome turned red; When Nero fiddled all Rome danced a jig. Novelty sets the gabbling geese agape, And fickle fashion follows like an ape. Aye, brass is plenty; gold is scarce and dear; Crystals abound, but diamonds still are rare. Is this the golden age, or the age of gold? Lo by the page or column fame is sold. Hear the big journal braying like an ass; Behold the brazen statesmen as they pass; See dapper poets hurrying for their dimes With hasty verses hammered out in rhymes: The Muses whisper—'"Tis the age of brass." Workmen are plenty, but the masters few— Fewer to-day than in the days of old. Rare blue-eyed pansies peeping pearled with dew, And lilies lifting up their heads of gold, Among the gaudy cockscombs I behold, And here and there a lotus in the shade; And under English oaks a rose that ne'er will fade.
Fair barks that flutter in the sun your sails, Piping anon to gay and tented shores Sweet music and low laughter, it is well Ye hug the haven when the tempest roars, For only stalwart ships of oak or steel May dare the deep and breast the billowy sea When sweeps the thunder-voiced, dark hurricane, And the mad ocean shakes his shaggy mane, And roars through all his grim and vast immensity.
The stars of heaven shine not till it is dark. Seven cities strove for Homer's bones, 'tis said, "Through which the living Homer begged for bread." When in their coffins they lay dumb and stark Shakespeare began to live, Dante to sing, And Poe's sweet lute began its werbelling. Rear monuments of fame or flattery— Think ye their sleeping souls are made aware? Heap o'er their heads sweet praise or calumny— Think ye their moldering ashes hear or care? Nay, praise and fame are by the living sought; But he is wise who scorns their flattery, And who escapes the tongue of calumny May count himself an angel or a naught: Lo over Byron's grave a maggot writhes distraught.
Genius is patience, labor and good sense. Steel and the mind grow bright by frequent use; In rest they rust. A goodly recompense Comes from hard toil, but not from its abuse. The slave, the idler, are alike unblessed; Aye, in loved labor only is there rest. But he will read and range and rhyme in vain Who hath no dust of diamonds in his brain; And untaught genius is a gem undressed. The life of man is short, but Art is long, And labor is the lot of mortal man, Ordained by God since human time began: Day follows day and brings its toil and song. Behind the western mountains sinks the moon, The silver dawn steals in upon the dark, Up from the dewy meadow wheels the lark And trills his welcome to the rising sun, And lo another day of labor is begun.
Poets are born, not made, some scribbler said, And every rhymester thinks the saying true: Better unborn than wanting labor's aid: Aye, all great poets—all great men—are made Between the hammer and the anvil. Few Have the true metal, many have the fire. No slave or savage ever proved a bard; Men have their bent, but labor its reward, And untaught fingers cannot tune the lyre. The poet's brain with spirit-vision teems; The voice of nature warbles in his heart; A sage, a seer, he moves from men apart, And walks among the shadows of his dreams; He sees God's light that in all nature beams; And when he touches with the hand of art The song of nature welling from his heart, And guides it forth in pure and limpid streams, Truth sparkles in the song and like a diamond gleams.
Time and patience change the mulberry-leaf To shining silk; the lapidary's skill Makes the rough diamond sparkle at his will, And cuts a gem from quartz or coral-reef. Better a skillful cobbler at his last Than unlearned poet twangling on the lyre; Who sails on land and gallops on the blast, And mounts the welkin on a braying ass, Clattering a shattered cymbal bright with brass, And slips his girth and tumbles in the mire. All poetry must be, if it be true, Like the keen arrows of the—Grecian god Apollo, that caught fire as they flew. Ah, such was Byron's, but alas he trod Ofttimes among the brambles and the rue, And sometimes dived full deep and brought up mud. But when he touched with tears, as only he Could touch, the tender chords of sympathy, His coldest critics warmed and marveled much, And all old England's heart throbbed to his thrilling touch.
Truth is the touchstone of all genius Art, In poet, painter, sculptor, is the same: What cometh from the heart goes to the heart, What comes from effort only is but tame. Nature the only perfect artist is: Who studies Nature may approach her skill; Perfection hers, but never can be his, Though her sweet voice his very marrow thrill; The finest works of art are Nature's shadows still.
Look not for faultless men or faultless art; Small faults are ever virtue's parasites: As in a picture shadows show the lights, So human foibles show a human heart.
O while I live and linger on the brink Let the dear Muses be my company; Their nectared goblets let my parched lips drink; Ah, let me drink the soma of their lips! As humming-bird the lily's nectar sips, Or Houris sip the wine of Salsabil. Aye, let me to their throbbing music thrill, And let me never for one moment think, Although no laurel crown my constancy, Their gracious smiles are false, their dearest kiss a lie.
TWENTY YEARS AGO
I am growing old and weary Ere yet my locks are gray; Before me lies eternity, Behind me—but a day. How fast the years are vanishing! They melt like April snow: It seems to me but yesterday— Twenty years ago.
There's the school-house on the hill-side, And the romping scholars all; Where we used to con our daily tasks, And play our games of ball. They rise to me in visions— In sunny dreams—and ho' I sport among the boys and girls Twenty years ago.
We played at ball in summer time— We boys—with hearty will; With merry shouts in winter time We coasted on the hill. We would choose our chiefs, divide in bands, And build our forts of snow, And storm those forts right gallantly— Twenty years ago.
Last year in June I visited That dear old sacred spot, But the school-house on the hill-side And the merry shouts were not. A church was standing where it stood; I looked around, but no— I could not see the boys and girls Of twenty years ago.
There was sister dear, and brother, Around the old home-hearth; And a tender, Christian mother, Too angel-like for earth. She used to warn me from the paths Where thorns and brambles grow, And lead me in the "narrow way"— Twenty years ago.
I loved her and I honored her Through all my boyhood years; I knew her joys—I knew her cares— I knew her hopes and fears. But alas, one autumn morning She left her home below, And she left us there a-weeping— Twenty years ago.
They bore her to the church-yard, With slow and solemn pace; And there I took my last fond look On her dear, peaceful face. They lowered her in her silent grave, While we bowed our heads in woe, And they heaped the sods above her head— Twenty years ago.
That low, sweet voice—my mother's voice— I never can forget; And in those loving eyes I see The big tears trembling yet. I try to tread the "narrow way;" I stumble oft I know: I miss—how much!—the helping hand Of twenty years ago.
Mary—(Mary I will call you— 'Tis not the old-time name) Sainted Mary—blue-eyed Mary— Are you in heaven the same? Are your eyes as bright and beautiful, Your cheeks as full of glow, As when the school-boy kissed you, May, Twenty years ago?
How we swung upon the grape-vine Down by the Genesee; And I caught the speckled trout for you, While you gathered flowers for me: How we rambled o'er the meadows With brows and cheeks aglow, And hearts like God's own angels— Twenty years ago.
How our young hearts grew together Until they beat as one; Distrust it could not enter; Cares and fears were none. All my love was yours, dear Mary, 'Twas boyish love, I know; But I ne'er have loved as then I loved— Twenty years ago.
How we pictured out the future— The golden coming years, And saw no cloud in all our sky, No gloomy mist of tears; But ah—how vain are human hopes! The angels came—and O— They bore my darling up to heaven— Twenty years ago.
I will not tell—I cannot tell— What anguish wrung my soul; But a silent grief is on my heart Though the years so swiftly roll; And I cannot shake it off, May, This lingering sense of woe, Though I try to drown the memory Of twenty years ago.
I am fighting life's stern battle, May, With all my might and main; But a seat by you and mother there Is the dearest prize to gain; And I know you both are near me, Whatever winds may blow, For I feel your spirits cheer me Like twenty years ago.
A HUNGARIAN LEGEND
Stibor had led in many a fight, And broken a score of swords In furious frays and bloody raids Against the Turkish hordes.
And Sigismund, the Polish king, Who joined the Magyar bands, Bestowed upon the valiant knight A broad estate of lands.
Once when the wars were o'er, the knight Was holding wassail high, And the valiant men that followed him Were at the revelry.
Betzko, his Jester, pleased him so He vowed it his the task To do whatever in human power His witty Fool might ask.
"Build on yon cliff," the Jester cried, In drunken jollity, "A mighty castle high and wide, And name it after me."
"Ah, verily a Jester's prayer," Exclaimed the knightly crew, "To ask of such a noble lord What you know he cannot do."
"Who says I cannot," Stibor cried, "Do whatsoe'er I will? Within one year a castle shall stand On yonder rocky hill—
"A castle built of ponderous stones, To give me future fame; In honor of my witty Fool, Betzko shall be its name."
Now the cliff was high three hundred feet, And perpendicular; And the skill that could build a castle there Must come from lands afar.
And craftsmen came from foreign lands, Italian, German and Jew— Apprentices and fellow-craftsmen, And master-masons, too.
And every traveler journeying Along the mountain-ways Was held to pay his toll of toil On the castle for seven days.
Slowly they raised the massive towers Upon the steep ascent, And all around a thousand hands Built up the battlement.
Three hundred feet above the glen— (By the steps five hundred feet)— The castle stood upon the cliff At the end of the year—complete.
Now throughout all the Magyar land There's none other half so high, So massive built, so strong and grand;— It reaches the very sky.
But from that same high battlement (Say tales by gypsies told) The valiant Stibor met his death When he was cross and old.
I'll tell you the tale as they told it to me, And I doubt not it is true, For 'twas handed down from the middle ages From the lips of knights who knew.
One day when the knight was old and cross, And a little the worse for grog, Betzko, the Jester, thoughtlessly Struck Stibor's favorite dog.
Now the dog was a hound and Stibor's pet, And as white as Carpathian snow, And Stibor hurled old Betzko down From the walls to the rocks below.
And as the Jester headlong fell From the dizzy, dreadful height, He muttered a curse with his latest breath On the head of the cruel knight.
One year from that day old Stibor held His drunken wassail long, And spent the hours till the cock crew morn In jest and wine and song.
Then he sought his garden on the cliff, And lay down under a vine To sleep away the lethargy Of a wassail-bowl of wine.
While sleeping soundly under the shade, And dreaming of revelries, An adder crawled upon his breast, And bit him in both his eyes.
Blinded and mad with pain he ran Toward the precipice, Unheeding till he headlong fell Adown the dread abyss.
Just where old Betzko's blood had dyed With red the old rocks gray, Quivering and bleeding and dumb and dead Old Stibor's body lay.
A HUNGARIAN TALE
When madly raged religious war O'er all the Magyar land And royal archer and hussar Met foemen hand to hand, A princess fair in castle strong The royal troops defied And bravely held her fortress long Though help was all denied.
Princess Maria was her name— Brave daughter nobly sired; She caught her father's trusty sword When bleeding he expired, And bravely rallied warders all To meet the storming foe, And hurled them from the rampart-wall Upon the crags below.
Prince Casimir—her father—built Murana high and wide; It sat among the mountain cliffs— The Magyars' boast and pride. Bold Wesselenyi—stalwart knight, Young, famed and wondrous fair, With a thousand men besieged the height, And led the bravest there.
And long he tried the arts of war To take that castle-hold, Till many a proud and plumed hussar Was lying stiff and cold; And still the frowning castle stood A grim, unbroken wall, Like some lone rock in stormy seas That braves the billows all.
Bold Wesselenyi's cheeks grew thin; A solemn oath he sware That if he failed the prize to win His bones should molder there. Two toilsome months had worn away, Two hundred men were slain, His bold assaults were baffled still, And all his arts were vain.
But love is mightier than the sword, He clad him in disguise— In the dress of an inferior lord— To win the noble prize. He bade his armed men to wait, To cease the battle-blare And sought alone the castle-gate To hold a parley there.
Aloft a flag of truce he bore: Her warders bade him pass; Within he met the princess fair All clad in steel and brass. Her bright, black eyes and queenly art, Sweet lips and raven hair, Smote bold young Wesselenyi's heart While he held parley there.
Cunning he talked of great reward And royal favor, too, If she would yield her father's sword; She sternly answered "No." But even while they parleyed there Maria's lustrous eyes Looked tenderly and lovingly On the chieftain in disguise.
"Go tell your gallant chief," she said, "To keep his paltry pelf; The knight who would my castle win, Must dare to come himself." And forth she sternly bade him go, But followed with her eyes. I ween she knew the brave knight well Through all his fair disguise.
But when had dawned another morn, He bade his bugleman To sound again the parley-horn Ere yet the fray began. And forth he sent a trusty knight To seek the castle-gate And to the princess privately His message to relate;—
That he it was who in disguise Her warders bade to pass, And while he parleyed there her eyes Had pierced his plates of brass. His heart he offered and his hand, And pledged a signet-ring If she would yield her brave command Unto his gracious king.
"Go tell your chief," Maria cried— "Audacious as he is— If he be worthy such a bride My castle and hand are his. But he should know that lady fair By faint heart ne'er was won; So let your gallant chieftain, sir, Come undisguised alone.
"And he may see in the northern tower, Over yonder precipice, A lone, dim light at the midnight hour Shine down the dark abyss. And over the chasm's dungeon-gloom Shall a slender ladder hang; And if alone he dare to come,— Unarmed—without a clang,
"More of his suit your chief shall hear Perhaps may win the prize; Tell him the way is hedged with fear,— One misstep and he dies. Nor will I pledge him safe retreat From out yon guarded tower; My watchful warders all to cheat May be beyond my power."
At midnight's dark and silent hour The tall and gallant knight Sought on the cliff the northern tower, And saw the promised light. With toil he climbed the cragged cliff, And there the ladder found; And o'er the yawning gulf he clomb The ladder round by round.
And as he climbed the ladder bent Above the yawning deep, But bravely to the port he went And entered at a leap Full twenty warders thronged the hall Each with his blade in hand; They caught the brave knight like a thrall And bound him foot and hand.
They tied him fast to an iron ring, At Maria's stern command, And then they jeered—"God save the king And all his knightly band!" They bound a bandage o'er his eyes, Then the haughty princess said: "Audacious knight, I hold a prize,— My castle or your head!
"Now, mark!—desert the king's command, And join your sword with mine, And thine shall be my heart and hand, This castle shall be thine. I grant one hour for thee to choose, My bold and gallant lord; And if my offer you refuse You perish by the sword!"
He spoke not a word, but his face was pale And he prayed a silent prayer; But his heart was oak and it could not quail, And a secret oath he sware. And grim stood the warders armed all, In the torches' flicker and flare, As they watch for an hour in the gloomy hall The brave knight pinioned there.
The short—the flying hour is past, The warders have bared his breast; The bugler bugles a doleful blast; Will the pale knight stand the test? He has made his choice—he will do his part, He has sworn and he cannot lie, And he cries with the sword at his beating heart,— "Betray?—nay—better to die!"
Suddenly fell from his blue eyes The silken, blinding bands, And while he looked in sheer surprise They freed his feet and hands. "I give thee my castle," Maria cried, "And I give thee my heart and hand, And Maria will be the proudest bride In all this Magyar land.
"Grant heaven that thou be true to me As thou art to the king, And I'll bless the day I gave to thee My castle for a ring." The red blood flushed to the brave knight's face As he looked on the lady fair; He sprang to her arms in a fond embrace, And he married her then and there.
So the little blind elf with his feathered shaft Did more than the sword could do, For he conquered and took with his magical craft Her heart and her castle, too.
Fare-thee-well: On my soul the toll of bell Trembles. Thou art calmly sleeping While my weary heart is weeping: I cannot listen to thy knell: Fare-thee-well.
Sleep and rest: Sorrow shall not pain thy breast, Pangs and pains that pierce the mortal Cannot enter at the portal Of the Mansion of the Blest: Sleep and rest.
Slumber sweet, Heart that nevermore will beat At the footsteps of thy lover; All thy cares and fears are over. In thy silent winding-sheet Slumber sweet.
Fare-thee-well: In the garden and the dell Where thou lov'dst to stroll and meet me, Nevermore thy kiss shall greet me, Nevermore, O Isabel! Fare-thee-well.
We shall meet— Where the wings of angels beat: When my toils and cares are over, Thou shalt greet again thy lover— Robed and crowned at Jesus' feet We shall meet.
Watch and wait At the narrow, golden gate; Watch my coming,—wait my greeting, For my years are few and fleeting And my love shall not abate: Watch and wait.
So farewell, O my darling Isabel; Till we meet in the supernal Mansion and with love eternal In the golden city dwell, Fare-thee-well.
BYRON AND THE ANGEL
"Why this fever—why this sighing?— Why this restless longing—dying For—a something—dreamy something, Undefined, and yet defying All the pride and power of manhood?
"O these years of sin and sorrow! Smiling while the iron harrow Of a keen and biting longing Tears and quivers in the marrow Of my being every moment— Of my very inmost being.
"What to me the mad ambition For men's praise and proud position— Struggling, fighting to the summit Of its vain and earthly mission, To lie down on bed of ashes— Bed of barren, bitter ashes?
"Cure this fever? I have tried it; Smothered, drenched it and defied it With a will of brass and iron; Every smile and look denied it; Yet it heeded not denying, And it mocks at my defying While my very soul is dying.
"Is there balm in Gilead?—tell me! Nay—no balm to soothe and quell me? Must I tremble in this fever? Death, O lift thy hand and fell me; Let me sink to rest forever Where this burning cometh never.
"Sometimes when this restless madness Softens down to mellow sadness, I look back on sun-lit valleys Where my boyish heart of gladness Nestled without pain or longing— Nestled softly in a vision Full of love and hope's fruition, Lulled by morning songs of spring-time.
"Then I ponder, and I wonder Was some heart-chord snapped asunder When the threads were soft and silken? Did some fatal boyish blunder Plant a canker in my bosom That hath ever burned and rankled?
"O this thirsting, thirsting hanker! O this burning, burning canker' Driving Peace and Hope to shipwreck— Without rudder, without anchor, On the reef-rocks of Damnation!"
"Jesus—Son of Virgin Mary; Lift the burden from the weary: Pity, Jesus, and anoint him With the holy balm of Gilead."
"Yea, Christ Jesus, pour thy blessings On these terrible heart-pressings: O I bless thee, unseen Angel; Lead me—teach me, holy Spirit."
"There is balm in Gilead! There is balm in Gilead! Peace awaits thee with caressings— Sitting at the feet of Jesus— At the right-hand of Jehovah— At the blessed feet of Jesus;—Alleluia!"
From church and chapel and dome and tower, Near—far and everywhere, The merry bells chime loud and clear Upon the frosty air.
All down the marble avenues The lamp-lit casements glow, And from an hundred palaces Glad carols float and flow.
A thousand lamps from street to street Blaze on the dusky air, And light the way for happy feet To carol, praise and prayer.
'Tis Christmas eve. In church and hall The laden fir-trees bend; Glad children throng the festival And grandsires too attend.
Fur-wrapped and gemmed with pearls and gold, Proud ladies rich and fair As Egypt's splendid queen of old In all her pomp are there.
And many a costly, golden gift Hangs on each Christmas-tree, While round and round the carols drift In waves of melody.
In a dim and dingy attic, Away from the pomp and glare, A widow sits by a flickering lamp, Bowed down by toil and care.
On her toil-worn hand her weary head, At her feet a shoe half-bound, On the bare, brown table a loaf of bread, And hunger and want around.
By her side at the broken window, With her rosy feet all bare, Her little one carols a Christmas tune To the chimes on the frosty air.
And the mother dreams of the by-gone years And their merry Christmas-bells, Till her cheeks are wet with womanly tears, And a sob in her bosom swells.
The child looked up; her innocent ears Had caught the smothered cry; She saw the pale face wet with tears She fain would pacify.
"Don't cry, mama," she softly said— "Here's a Christmas gift for you," And on the mother's cheek a kiss She printed warm and true.
"God bless my child!" the mother cried And caught her to her breast— "O Lord, whose Son was crucified, Thy precious gift is best.
"If toil and trouble be my lot While on life's sea I drift, O Lord, my soul shall murmur not, If Thou wilt spare Thy gift."
OUT OF THE DEPTHS
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery, and when they had set her in the midst, they said unto him "Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such be stoned; but what sayest thou?"—[St. John, Chap, viii; 3, 4, 5.
Reach thy hand to me, O Jesus; Reach thy loving hand to me, Or I sink, alas, and perish In my sin and agony.
From the depths I cry, O Jesus, Lifting up mine eyes to thee; Save me from my sin and sorrow With thy loving charity.
Pity, Jesus—blessed Savior; I am weak, but thou art strong; Fill my heart with prayer and praises, Fill my soul with holy song.
Lift me up, O sacred Jesus— Lift my bruised heart to thee; Teach me to be pure and holy As the holy angels be.
Scribes and Pharisees surround me: Thou art writing in the sand: Must I perish, Son of Mary? Wilt thou give the stern command?
Am I saved?—for Jesus sayeth— "Let the sinless cast a stone." Lo the Scribes have all departed, And the Pharisees are gone!
"Woman, where are thine accusers?" (They have vanished one by one.) "Hath no man condemned thee, woman?" And she meekly answered—"None."
Then he spake His blessed answer— Balm indeed for sinners sore— "Neither then will I condemn thee: Go thy way and sin no more."
Dust of the desert are thy walls And temple-towers, O Babylon! O'er crumbled halls the lizard crawls, And serpents bask in blaze of sun.
In vain kings piled the Pyramids; Their tombs were robbed by ruthless hands. Who now shall sing their fame and deeds, Or sift their ashes from the sands?
Deep in the drift of ages hoar Lie nations lost and kings forgot; Above their graves the oceans roar, Or desert sands drift o'er the spot.
A thousand years are but a day When reckoned on the wrinkled earth; And who among the wise shall say What cycle saw the primal birth
Of man, who lords on sea and land, And builds his monuments to-day, Like Syrian on the desert sand, To crumble and be blown away.
Proud chiefs of pageant armies led To fame and death their followers forth, Ere Helen sinned and Hector bled, Or Odin ruled the rugged North.
And poets sang immortal praise To mortal heroes ere the fire Of Homer blazed in Ilion lays, Or Brage tuned the Northern lyre.
For fame men piled the Pyramids; Their names have perished with their bones: For fame men wrote their boasted deeds On Babel bricks and Runic stones—
On Tyrian temples, gates of brass, On Roman arch and Damask blades, And perished like the desert grass That springs to-day—to-morrow—fades.
And still for fame men delve and die In Afric heat and Arctic cold; For fame on flood and field they vie, Or gather in the shining gold.
Time, like the ocean, onward rolls Relentless, burying men and deeds; The brightest names, the bravest souls, Float but an hour like ocean weeds,
Then sink forever. In the slime— Forgotten, lost forevermore, Lies Fame from every age and clime; Yet thousands clamor on the shore.
Immortal Fame!—O dust and death! The centuries as they pass proclaim That Fame is but a mortal breath, That man must perish—name and fame.
The earth is but a grain of sand— An atom in a shoreless sea; A million worlds lie in God's hand— Yea, myriad millions—what are we?
O mortal man of bone and blood! Then is there nothing left but dust? God made us; He is wise and good, And we may humbly hope and trust.
When the meadow-lark trilled o'er the leas and the oriole piped in the maples, From my hammock, all under the trees, by the sweet-scented field of red clover, I harked to the hum of the bees, as they gathered the mead of the blossoms, And caught from their low melodies the air of the song of Winona.
(In pronouncing Dakota words give "a" the sound of "ah,"—"e" the sound of "a,"—"i" the sound of "e" and "u" the sound of "oo." Sound "ee" as in English. The numerals refer to Notes in appendix.)
* * * * *
Two hundred white Winters and more have fled from the face of the Summer, Since here on the oak-shaded shore of the dark-winding, swift Mississippi, Where his foaming floods tumble and roar o'er the falls and the white-rolling rapids, In the fair, fabled center of Earth, sat the Indian town of Ka-tha-ga.  Far rolling away to the north, and the south, lay the emerald prairies, All dotted with woodlands and lakes, and above them the blue bent of ether. And here where the dark river breaks into spray and the roar of the Ha-Ha,  Where gathered the bison-skin tees[F] of the chief tawny tribe of Dakotas; For here, in the blast and the breeze, flew the flag of the chief of Isantees,  Up-raised on the stem of a lance— the feathery flag of the eagle. And here to the feast and the dance, from the prairies remote and the forests, Oft gathered the out-lying bands, and honored the gods of the nation. On the islands and murmuring strands they danced to the god of the waters, Unktehee,  who dwelt in the caves, deep under the flood of the Ha-Ha;  And high o'er the eddies and waves hung their offerings of furs and tobacco,[G] And here to the Master of life— Anpe-tu-wee,  god of the heavens, Chief, warrior, and maiden, and wife, burned the sacred green sprigs of the cedar.  And here to the Searcher-of-hearts— fierce Ta-ku Skan-skan,  the avenger, Who dwells in the uppermost parts of the earth, and the blue, starry ether, Ever watching, with all-seeing eyes, the deeds of the wives and the warriors, As an osprey afar in the skies, sees the fish as they swim in the waters, Oft spread they the bison-tongue feast, and singing preferred their petitions, Till the Day-Spirit rose in the East— in the red, rosy robes of the morning, To sail o'er the sea of the skies, to his lodge in the land of the shadows, Where the black-winged tornadoes[H] arise, rushing loud from the mouths of their caverns. And here with a shudder they heard, flying far from his tee in the mountains, Wa-kin-yan, the huge Thunder-Bird, with the arrows of fire in his talons.
[F] Tee—teepee, the Dakota name for tent or wigwam
[G] See Hennepin's Description of Louisiana, by Shea, pp. 243 and 256. Parkman's Discovery, p. 246—and Carver's Travels, p. 67.
[H] The Dakotas, like the ancient Romans and Greeks, think the home of the winds is in the caverns of the mountains, and their great Thunder-bird resembles in many respects the Jupiter of the Romans and the Zeus of the Greeks. The resemblance of the Dakota mythology to that of the older Greeks and Romans is striking.
Two hundred white Winters and more have fled from the face of the Summer Since here by the cataract's roar, in the moon of the red-blooming lilies, In the tee of Ta-te-psin[I] was born Winona—wild-rose of the prairies. Like the summer sun peeping, at morn, o'er the hills was the face of Winona. And here she grew up like a queen— a romping and lily-lipped laughter, And danced on the undulant green, and played in the frolicsome waters, Where the foaming tide tumbles and whirls o'er the murmuring rocks in the rapids; And whiter than foam were the pearls that gleamed in the midst of her laughter. Long and dark was her flowing hair flung like the robe of the night to the breezes; And gay as the robin she sung, or the gold-breasted lark of the meadows. Like the wings of the wind were her feet, and as sure as the feet of Ta-to-ka[J] And oft like an antelope fleet o'er the hills and the prairies she bounded, Lightly laughing in sport as she ran, and looking back over her shoulder At the fleet-footed maiden or man that vainly her flying feet followed. The belle of the village was she, and the pride of the aged Ta-te-psin, Like a sunbeam she lighted his tee, and gladdened the heart of her father.
[I] Tate—wind,—psin—wild-rice—wild-rice wind.
[J] mountain antelope.
In the golden-hued Wazu-pe-wee— the moon when the wild-rice is gathered; When the leaves on the tall sugar-tree are as red as the breast of the robin, And the red-oaks that border the lea are aflame with the fire of the sunset, From the wide, waving fields of wild-rice— from the meadows of Psin-ta-wak-pa-dan,[K] Where the geese and the mallards rejoice, and grow fat on the bountiful harvest, Came the hunters with saddles of moose and the flesh of the bear and the bison, And the women in birch-bark canoes well laden with rice from the meadows.
[K] Little Rice River. It bears the name of Rice Creek to-day and empties into the Mississippi from the east, a few miles above Minneapolis.
With the tall, dusky hunters, behold, came a marvelous man or a spirit, White-faced and so wrinkled and old, and clad in the robe of the raven. Unsteady his steps were and slow, and he walked with a staff in his right hand, And white as the first-falling snow were the thin locks that lay on his shoulders. Like rime-covered moss hung his beard, flowing down from his face to his girdle; And wan was his aspect and weird, and often he chanted and mumbled In a strange and mysterious tongue, as he bent o'er his book in devotion, Or lifted his dim eyes and sung, in a low voice, the solemn "Te Deum," Or Latin, or Hebrew, or Greek— all the same were his words to the warriors,— All the same to the maids and the meek, wide-wondering-eyed, hazel-brown children.
Father Rene Menard [L]—it was he, long lost to his Jesuit brothers, Sent forth by an holy decree to carry the Cross to the heathen. In his old age abandoned to die, in the swamps, by his timid companions, He prayed to the Virgin on high, and she led him forth from the forest; For angels she sent him as men— in the forms of the tawny Dakotas, And they led his feet from the fen, from the slough of despond and the desert, Half dead in a dismal morass, as they followed the red-deer they found him, In the midst of the mire and the grass, and mumbling "Te Deum laudamus." "Unktomee—Ho!" muttered the braves, for they deemed him the black Spider-Spirit That dwells in the drearisome caves, and walks on the marshes at midnight, With a flickering torch in his hand, to decoy to his den the unwary. His tongue could they not understand, but his torn hands all shriveled with famine He stretched to the hunters and said: "He feedeth his chosen with manna; And ye are the angels of God sent to save me from death in the desert." His famished and woe-begone face, and his tones touched the hearts of the hunters; They fed the poor father apace, and they led him away to Ka-tha-ga.
[L] See the account of Father Menard, his mission and disappearance in the wilderness. Neill's Hist. Minnesota, pp 104-107, inc.
There little by little he learned the tongue of the tawny Dakotas; And the heart of the good father yearned to lead them away from their idols— Their giants and dread Thunder-birds— their worship of stones and the devil. "Wakan-de!"[M] they answered his words, for he read from his book in the Latin, Lest the Nazarene's holy commands by his tongue should be marred in translation; And oft with his beads in his hands, or the cross and the crucified Jesus, He knelt by himself on the sands, and his dim eyes uplifted to heaven. But the braves bade him look to the East— to the silvery lodge of Han-nan-na;[N] And to dance with the chiefs at the feast— at the feast of the Giant Heyo-ka. They frowned when the good father spurned the flesh of the dog in the kettle, And laughed when his fingers were burned in the hot, boiling pot of the giant. "The Black-robe" they called the poor priest, from the hue of his robe and his girdle; And never a game or a feast but the father must grace with his presence. His prayer-book the hunters revered,— they deemed it a marvelous spirit; It spoke and the white father heard,— it interpreted visions and omens. And often they bade him to pray this marvelous spirit to answer, And tell where the sly Chippewa might be ambushed and slain in his forest. For Menard was the first in the land, proclaiming, like John in the desert, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; repent ye, and turn from your idols." The first of the brave brotherhood that, threading the fens and the forest, Stood afar by the turbulent flood at the falls of the Father of Waters.
[M] It is wonderful!
[N] The morning.
In the lodge of the Stranger[O] he sat, awaiting the crown of a martyr; His sad face compassion begat in the heart of the dark-eyed Winona. Oft she came to the teepee and spoke; she brought him the tongue of the bison, Sweet nuts from the hazel and oak, and flesh of the fawn and the mallard. Soft hanpa[P] she made for his feet and leggins of velvety fawn-skin, A blanket of beaver complete, and a hood of the hide of the otter. And oft at his feet on the mat, deftly braiding the flags and the rushes, Till the sun sought his teepee she sat, enchanted with what he related Of the white-winged ships on the sea and the teepees far over the ocean, Of the love and the sweet charity of the Christ and the beautiful Virgin.
[O] A lodge set apart for guests of the village.
She listened like one in a trance when he spoke of the brave, bearded Frenchmen, From the green, sun-lit valleys of France to the wild Hochelaga[Q] transplanted, Oft trailing the deserts of snow in the heart of the dense Huron forests, Or steering the dauntless canoe through the waves of the fresh-water ocean. "Yea, stronger and braver are they," said the aged Menard to Winona, "Than the head-chief, tall Wazi-kute, but their words are as soft as a maiden's, Their eyes are the eyes of the swan, but their hearts are the hearts of the eagles; And the terrible Masa Wakan[R] ever walks by their side like a spirit; Like a Thunder-bird, roaring in wrath, flinging fire from his terrible talons, He sends to their enemies death in the flash of the fatal Wakandee."[S]
[Q] The Ottawa name for the region of the St. Lawrence River.
[R] "Mysterious metal"—or metal having a spirit in it. This is the common name applied by the Dakotas to all firearms.
The Autumn was past and the snow lay drifted and deep on the prairies; From his teepee of ice came the foe— came the storm-breathing god of the winter. Then roared in the groves, on the plains, on the ice-covered lakes and the river, The blasts of the fierce hurricanes blown abroad from the breast of Waziya.  The bear cuddled down in his den, and the elk fled away to the forest; The pheasant and gray prairie-hen made their beds in the heart of the snow-drift; The bison herds huddled and stood in the hollows and under the hill-sides, Or rooted the snow for their food in the lee of the bluffs and the timber; And the mad winds that howled from the north, from the ice-covered seas of Waziya, Chased the gray wolf and silver-fox forth to their dens in the hills of the forest.
Poor Father Menard—he was ill; in his breast burned the fire of a fever; All in vain was the magical skill of Wicasta Wakan  with his rattle; Into soft, child-like slumber he fell, and awoke in the land of the blessed— To the holy applause of "Well-done!" and the harps in the hands of the angels. Long he carried the cross and he won the coveted crown of a martyr.
In the land of the heathen he died, meekly following the voice of his Master, One mourner alone by his side— Ta-te-psin's compassionate daughter. She wailed the dead father with tears, and his bones by her kindred she buried. Then winter followed winter. The years sprinkled frost on the head of her father; And three weary winters she dreamed of the fearless and fair, bearded Frenchmen; At midnight their swift paddles gleamed on the breast of the broad Mississippi, And the eyes of the brave strangers beamed on the maid in the midst of her slumber.
She lacked not admirers; the light of the lover oft burned in her teepee— At her couch in the midst of the night,— but she never extinguished the flambeau. The son of Chief Wazi-kute— a fearless and eagle-plumed warrior— Long sighed for Winona, and he was the pride of the band of Isantees. Three times, in the night at her bed, had the brave held the torch of the lover,  And thrice had she covered her head and rejected the handsome Tamdoka. [T]
[T] Tah-mdo-kah, literally, the buck-deer.
'Twas Summer. The merry-voiced birds trilled and warbled in woodland and meadow; And abroad on the prairies the herds cropped the grass in the land of the lilies,— And sweet was the odor of rose wide-wafted from hillside and heather; In the leaf-shaded lap of repose lay the bright, blue-eyed babes of the summer; And low was the murmur of brooks, and low was the laugh of the Ha-Ha;  And asleep in the eddies and nooks lay the broods of maga and the mallard. 'Twas the moon of Wasunpa.  The band lay at rest in the tees at Ka-tha-ga, And abroad o'er the beautiful land walked the spirits of Peace and of Plenty— Twin sisters, with bountiful hand wide scattering wild-rice and the lilies. An-pe-tu-wee walked in the west— to his lodge in the far-away mountains, And the war-eagle flew to her nest in the oak on the Isle of the Spirit.[U] And now at the end of the day, by the shore of the Beautiful Island,[V] A score of fair maidens and gay made joy in the midst of the waters. Half-robed in their dark, flowing hair, and limbed like the fair Aphrodite, They played in the waters, and there they dived and they swam like the beavers, Loud-laughing like loons on the lake when the moon is a round shield of silver, And the songs of the whippowils wake on the shore in the midst of the maples.
But hark!—on the river a song,— strange voices commingled in chorus; On the current a boat swept along with DuLuth and his hardy companions; To the stroke of their paddles they sung, and this the refrain that they chanted:
"Dans mon chemin j'ai rencontre Deux cavaliers bien montes. Lon, lon, laridon daine, Lon, lon, laridon da."
"Deux cavaliers bien montes; L'un a cheval, et l'autre a pied. Lon, lon, laridon daine, Lon, lon, laridon da."[W]
[U] The Dakotas say that for many years in olden times war-eagles made their nests in oak trees on Spirit-island—Wanagi-wita, just below the Falls till frightened away by the advent of white men.
[V] The Dakotas called Nicollet Island Wi-ta Waste—the Beautiful Island.
[W] A part of one of the favorite songs of the French voyageurs.
Like the red, dappled deer in the glade alarmed by the footsteps of hunters, Discovered, disordered, dismayed, the nude nymphs fled forth from the waters, And scampered away to the shade, and peered from the screen of the lindens.
A bold and adventuresome man was DuLuth, and a dauntless in danger, And straight to Kathaga he ran, and boldly advanced to the warriors, Now gathering, a cloud on the strand, and gazing amazed on the strangers; And straightway he offered his hand unto Wazi-kute, the Itancan.[X] To the Lodge of the Stranger were led DuLuth and his hardy companions; Robes of beaver and bison were spread, and the Peace-pipe was smoked with the Frenchman.
There was dancing and feasting at night, and joy at the presents he lavished. All the maidens were wild with delight with the flaming red robes and the ribbons, With the beads and the trinkets untold, and the fair, bearded face of the giver; And glad were they all to behold the friends from the Land of the Sunrise. But one stood apart from the rest— the queenly and silent Winona, Intently regarding the guest— hardly heeding the robes and the ribbons, Whom the White Chief beholding admired, and straightway he spread on her shoulders A lily-red robe and attired with necklet and ribbons the maiden. The red lilies bloomed in her face, and her glad eyes gave thanks to the giver, And forth from her teepee apace she brought him the robe and the missal Of the father—poor Rene Menard; and related the tale of the "Black Robe." She spoke of the sacred regard he inspired in the hearts of Dakotas; That she buried his bones with her kin, in the mound by the Cave of the Council; That she treasured and wrapt in the skin of the red-deer his robe and his prayer book— "Till his brothers should come from the East— from the land of the far Hochelaga, To smoke with the braves at the feast, on the shores of the Loud-laughing Waters.  For the 'Black Robe' spake much of his youth and his friends in the Land of the Sunrise; It was then as a dream; now in truth I behold them, and not in a vision." But more spake her blushes, I ween, and her eyes full of language unspoken, As she turned with the grace of a queen and carried her gifts to the teepee.
Far away from his beautiful France— from his home in the city of Lyons, A noble youth full of romance, with a Norman heart big with adventure, In the new world a wanderer, by chance DuLuth sought the wild Huron forests. But afar by the vale of the Rhone, the winding and musical river, And the vine-covered hills of the Saone, the heart of the wanderer lingered,— 'Mid the vineyards and mulberry trees, and the fair fields of corn and of clover That rippled and waved in the breeze, while the honey-bees hummed in the blossoms. For there, where th' impetuous Rhone, leaping down from the Switzerland mountains, And the silver-lipped, soft-flowing Saone, meeting, kiss and commingle together, Down winding by vineyards and leas, by the orchards of fig-trees and olives, To the island-gemmed, sapphire-blue seas of the glorious Greeks and the Romans; Aye, there, on the vine-covered shore, 'mid the mulberry-trees and the olives, Dwelt his blue-eyed and beautiful Flore, with her hair like a wheat-field at harvest, All rippled and tossed by the breeze, and her cheeks like the glow of the morning, Far away o'er the emerald seas, as the sun lifts his brow from the billows, Or the red-clover fields when the bees, singing sip the sweet cups of the blossoms. Wherever he wandered— alone in the heart of the wild Huron forests, Or cruising the rivers unknown to the land of the Crees or Dakotas— His heart lingered still on the Rhone, 'mid the mulberry trees and the vineyards, Fast-fettered and bound by the zone that girdled the robes of his darling. Till the red Harvest Moon he remained in the vale of the swift Mississippi. The esteem of the warriors he gained, and the love of the dark-eyed Winona. He joined in the sports and the chase; with the hunters he followed the bison, And swift were his feet in the race when the red elk they ran on the prairies. At the Game of the Plum-stones he played, and he won from the skillfulest players; A feast to Wa'tanka he made, and he danced at the feast of Heyoka. With the flash and the roar of his gun he astonished the fearless Dakotas; They called it the "Maza Wakan"— the mighty, mysterious metal. "'Tis a brother," they said, "of the fire in the talons of dreadful Wakinyan,' When he flaps his huge wings in his ire, and shoots his red shafts at Unktehee."
The Itancan, tall Wazi-kute, appointed a day for the races. From the red stake that stood by his tee, on the southerly side of the Ha-ha, O'er the crest of the hills and the dunes and the billowy breadth of the prairie, To a stake at the Lake of the Loons— a league and return—was the distance. They gathered from near and afar, to the races and dancing and feasting; Five hundred tall warriors were there from Kapoza and far-off Keoza; Remnica[Y] too, furnished a share of the legions that thronged to the races, And a bountiful feast was prepared by the diligent hands of the women, And gaily the multitudes fared in the generous tees of Kathaga. The chief of the mystical clan appointed a feast to Unktehee— The mystic "Wacipee Wakan"[Z]— at the end of the day and the races. A band of sworn brothers are they, and the secrets of each one are sacred, And death to the lips that betray is the doom of the swarthy avengers, And the son of tall Wazi-kute was the chief of the mystical order.
[Y] Pronounced Ray-mne-chah—The village of the Mountains, situate where Red Wing now stands.
[Z] Sacred Dance—The Medicine-dance—See description infra.
THE FOOT RACES.
On an arm of an oak hangs the prize for the swiftest and strongest of runners— A blanket as red as the skies, when the flames sweep the plains in October. And beside it a strong, polished bow, and a quiver of iron-tipped arrows, Which Kapoza's tall chief will bestow on the fleet-footed second that follows. A score of swift runners are there from the several bands of the nation, And now for the race they prepare, and among them fleet-footed Tamdoka. With the oil of the buck and the bear their sinewy limbs are annointed, For fleet are the feet of the deer and strong are the limbs of the bruin.
Hark!—the shouts and the braying of drums, and the Babel of tongues and confusion! From his teepee the tall chieftain comes, and DuLuth brings a prize for the runners— A keen hunting-knife from the Seine, horn-handled and mounted with silver. The runners are ranged on the plain, and the Chief waves a flag as a signal, And away like the gray wolves they fly— like the wolves on the trail of the red-deer; O'er the hills and the prairie they vie, and strain their strong limbs to the utmost, While high on the hills hangs a cloud of warriors and maidens and mothers, To see the swift-runners, and loud are the cheers and the shouts of the warriors.
Now swift from the lake they return o'er the emerald hills of the prairies; Like grey-hounds they pant and they yearn, and the leader of all is Tamdoka. At his heels flies Hu-pa-hu,[AA] the fleet—the pride of the band of Kaoza,— A warrior with eagle-winged feet, but his prize is the bow and the quiver. Tamdoka first reaches the post, and his are the knife and the blanket, By the mighty acclaim of the host and award of the chief and the judges. Then proud was the tall warrior's stride, and haughty his look and demeanor; He boasted aloud in his pride, and he scoffed at the rest of the runners. "Behold me, for I am a man![AB] my feet are as swift as the West-wind. With the coons and the beavers I ran; but where is the elk or the cabri? Come!—where is the hunter will dare match his feet with the feet of Tamdoka? Let him think of Tate[AC] and beware, ere he stake his last robe on the trial." "Oho! Ho! Ho-heca!"[AD] they jeered, for they liked not the boast of the boaster; But to match him no warrior appeared, for his feet wore the wings of the west-wind.
[AA] The wings.
[AB] A favorite boast of the Dakota braves.
[AC] The wind.
[AD] About equivalent to Oho!—Aha!—fudge!
Then forth from the side of the chief stepped DuLuth and he looked on the boaster; "The words of a warrior are brief,— I will run with the brave," said the Frenchman; "But the feet of Tamdoka are tired; abide till the cool of the sunset." All the hunters and maidens admired, for strong were the limbs of the stranger. "Hiwo Ho!"[AE] they shouted and loud rose the cheers of the multitude mingled; And there in the midst of the crowd stood the glad-eyed and blushing Winona.
[AE] Hurra there!
Now afar o'er the plains of the west walked the sun at the end of his journey, And forth came the brave and the guest, at the tap of the drum, for the trial. Like a forest of larches the hordes were gathered to witness the contest; As loud as the drums were their words and they roared like the roar of the Ha-ha. For some for Tamdoka contend, and some for the fair, bearded stranger, And the betting runs high to the end, with the skins of the bison and beaver. A wife of tall Wazi-kute— the mother of boastful Tamdoka— Brought her handsomest robe from the tee with a vaunting and loud proclamation: She would stake her last robe on her son who, she boasted, was fleet as the cabri, And the tall, tawny chieftain looked on, approving the boast of the mother. Then fleet as the feet of a fawn to her lodge ran the dark-eyed Winona, She brought and she spread on the lawn, by the side of the robe of the boaster, The lily-red mantel DuLuth, with his own hands, had laid on her shoulders. "Tamdoka is swift, but forsooth, the tongue of his mother is swifter," She said, and her face was aflame with the red of the rose and the lily, And loud was the roar of acclaim; but dark was the face of Tamdoka. They strip for the race and prepare,— DuLuth in his breeches and leggins; And the brown, curling locks of his hair down droop to his bare, brawny shoulders, And his face wears a smile debonair, as he tightens his red sash around him; But stripped to the moccasins bare, save the belt and the breech-clout of buckskin, Stands the haughty Tamdoka aware that the eyes of the warriors admire him; For his arms are the arms of a bear and his legs are the legs of a panther.
The drum beats,—the chief waves the flag, and away on the course speed the runners, And away leads the brave like a stag,— like a bound on his track flies the Frenchman; And away haste the hunters once more to the hills, for a view to the lakeside, And the dark-swarming hill-tops, they roar with the storm of loud voices commingled. Far away o'er the prairie they fly, and still in the lead is Tamdoka, But the feet of his rival are nigh, and slowly he gains on the hunter. Now they turn on the post at the lake,— now they run full abreast on the home-stretch: Side by side they contend for the stake for a long mile or more on the prairie They strain like a stag and a hound, when the swift river gleams through the thicket, And the horns of the riders resound, winding shrill through the depths of the forest. But behold!—at full length on the ground falls the fleet-footed Frenchman abruptly, And away with a whoop and a bound springs the eager, exulting Tamdoka Long and loud on the hills is the shout of his swarthy admirers and backers, "But the race is not won till it's out," said DuLuth, to himself as he gathered, With a frown on his face, for the foot of the wily Tamdoka had tripped him. Far ahead ran the brave on the route, and turning he boasted exultant. Like spurs to the steed to DuLuth were the jeers and the taunts of the boaster; Indignant was he and red wroth at the trick of the runner dishonest; And away like a whirlwind he speeds— like a hurricane mad from the mountains; He gains on Tamdoka,—he leads!— and behold, with the spring of a panther, He leaps to the goal and succeeds, 'mid the roar of the mad acclamation. Then glad as the robin in May was the voice of Winona exulting; Tamdoka turned sullen away, and sulking he walked by the river; He glowered as he went and the fire of revenge in his bosom was kindled: Dark was his visage with ire and his eyes were the eyes of a panther.
THE WAKAN-WACEPEE, OR SACRED DANCE. 
Lo the lights in the "Teepee-Wakan!" 'tis the night of the Wakan Wacepee. Round and round walks the chief of the clan, as he rattles the sacred Ta-sha-kay;  Long and loud on the Chan-che-ga  beat the drummers with magical drumsticks, And the notes of the Cho-tanka  greet like the murmur of winds on the waters. By the friction of white-cedar wood for the feast was a Virgin-fire  kindled. They that enter the firm brotherhood first must fast and be cleansed by E-nee-pee; And from foot-sole to crown of the head must they paint with the favorite colors; For Unktehee likes bands of blood-red, with the stripings of blue intermingled. In the hollow earth, dark and profound, Unktehee and fiery Wakinyan Long fought, and the terrible sound of the battle was louder than thunder; The mountains were heaved and around were scattered the hills and the boulders, And the vast solid plains of the ground rose and fell like the waves of the ocean. But the god of the waters prevailed. Wakin-yan escaped from the cavern, And long on the mountains he wailed, and his hatred endureth forever.
When Unktehee had finished the earth, and the beasts and the birds and the fishes, And men at his bidding came forth from the heart of the huge hollow mountains, A band chose the god from the hordes, and he said: "Ye are the sons of Unktehee: Ye are lords of the beasts and the birds, and the fishes that swim in the waters. But hearken ye now to my words,— let them sound in your bosoms forever: Ye shall honor Unktehee and hate Wakinyan, the Spirit of Thunder, For the power of Unktehee is great, and he laughs at the darts of Wakinyan. Ye shall honor the Earth and the Sun,— for they are your father and mother;  Let your prayer to the Sun be:— Wakan Ate; on-si-md-da ohee-nee."[AF] And remember the Taku Wakan all-pervading in earth and in ether— Invisible ever to man, but He dwells in the midst of all matter; Yea, he dwells in the heart of the stone— in the hard granite heart of the boulder; Ye shall call him forever Tunkan— grandfather of all the Dakotas. Ye are men that I choose for my own; ye shall be as a strong band of brothers, Now I give you the magical bone and the magical pouch of the spirits,[AG] And these are the laws ye shall heed: Ye shall honor the pouch and the giver. Ye shall walk as twin-brothers; in need, one shall forfeit his life for another. Listen not to the voice of the crow.[AH] Hold as sacred the wife of a brother. Strike, and fear not the shaft of the foe, for the soul of the brave is immortal. Slay the warrior in battle, but spare the innocent babe and the mother. Remember a promise,—beware,— let the word of a warrior be sacred When a stranger arrives at the tee— be he friend of the band or a foeman, Give him food; let your bounty be free; lay a robe for the guest by the lodge-fire; Let him go to his kindred in peace, if the peace-pipe he smoke in the teepee; And so shall your children increase, and your lodges shall laugh with abundance. And long shall ye live in the land, and the spirits of earth and the waters Shall come to your aid, at command, with the power of invisible magic. And at last, when you journey afar— o'er the shining "Wanagee Ta-chan-ku," You shall walk as a red, shining star in the land of perpetual summer."
[AF] "Sacred Spirit! Father! have pity on me always."
[AG] Riggs' Takoo Wakan, p. 90.
All the night in the teepee they sang, and they danced to the mighty Unktehee, While the loud-braying Chan-che-ga rang and the shrill-piping flute and the rattle, Till Anpetuwee  rose in the east— from the couch of the blushing Han-nan-na, And thus at the dance and the feast sang the sons of Unktehee in chorus:
"Wa-du-ta o-hna mi-ka-ge! Wa-du-ta o-hna mi-ka-ge! Mini-yata ite wakande maku, Ate wakan—Tunkansidan.
Tunkansidan pejihuta wakan Micage—he Wicage! Miniyata ite wakande maku. Taukansidan ite, nape du-win-ta woo, Wahutopa wan yuha, nape du-win-ta woo."
In red swan-down he made it for me; In red swan-down he made it for me; He of the water—he of the mysterious face— Gave it to me; Sacred Father—Grandfather!
Grandfather made me magical medicine. That is true! Being of mystery,—grown in the water— He gave it to me! To the face of our Grandfather stretch out your hand; Holding a quadruped, stretch out your hand!
Till high o'er the hills of the east Anpetuwee walked on his journey, In secret they danced at the feast, and communed with the mighty Unktehee. Then opened the door of the tee to the eyes of the wondering Dakotas, And the sons of Unktehee to be, were endowed with the sacred Ozuha By the son of tall Wazi-kute, Tamdoka, the chief of the Magi. And thus since the birth-day of man— since he sprang from the heart of the mountains, Has the sacred "Wacepee Wakan" by the warlike Dakotas been honored, And the god-favored sons of the clan work their will with the help of the spirits.
'Twas sunrise; the spirits of mist trailed their white robes on dewy savannas, And the flowers raised their heads to be kissed by the first golden beams of the morning. The breeze was abroad with the breath of the rose of the Isles of the Summer, And the humming-bird hummed on the heath from his home in the land of the rainbow.[AI] 'Twas the morn of departure. DuLuth stood alone by the roar of the Ha-ha; Tall and fair in the strength of his youth stood the blue-eyed and fair-bearded Frenchman. A rustle of robes on the grass broke his dream as he mused by the waters, And, turning, he looked on the face of Winona, wild-rose of the prairies, Half hid in her dark, flowing hair, like the round, golden moon in the pine-tops. Admiring he gazed—she was fair as his own blooming Flore in her orchards, With her golden locks loose on the air, like the gleam of the sun through the olives, Far away on the vine-covered shore, in the sun-favored land of his fathers. "Lists the chief to the cataract's roar for the mournful lament of the Spirit?"[AJ] Said Winona,—"The wail of the sprite for her babe and its father unfaithful, Is heard in the midst of the night, when the moon wanders dim in the heavens."
"Wild-Rose of the Prairies," he said, "DuLuth listens not to the Ha-ha, For the wail of the ghost of the dead for her babe and its father unfaithful; But he lists to a voice in his heart that is heard by the ear of no other, And to-day will the White Chief depart; he returns to the land of the sunrise." "Let Winona depart with the chief,— she will kindle the fire in his teepee; For long are the days of her grief, if she stay in the tee of Ta-te-psin," She replied, and her cheeks were aflame with the bloom of the wild prairie lilies. "Tanke[AK], is the White Chief to blame?" said DuLuth to the blushing Winona. "The White Chief is blameless," she said, "but the heart of Winona will follow Wherever thy footsteps may lead, O blue-eyed, brave Chief of the white men. For her mother sleeps long in the mound, and a step-mother rules in the teepee, And her father, once strong and renowned, is bent with the weight of his winters. No longer he handles the spear,— no longer his swift, humming arrows Overtake the fleet feet of the deer, or the bear of the woods, or the bison; But he bends as he walks, and the wind shakes his white hair and hinders his footsteps; And soon will he leave me behind, without brother or sister or kindred. The doe scents the wolf in the wind, and a wolf walks the path of Winona. Three times have the gifts for the bride to the lodge of Ta-te-psin been carried, But the voice of Winona replied that she liked not the haughty Tamdoka. And thrice were the gifts sent away, but the tongue of the mother protested, And the were-wolf still follows his prey, and abides but the death of my father."
[AI] The Dakotas say the humming-bird comes from the "Land of the rain-bow."
[AJ] See Legend of the Falls, or Note 28—Appendix.
[AK] My Sister.
"I pity Winona," he said, "but my path is a pathway of danger, And long is the trail for the maid to the far-away land of the sunrise; And few are the braves of my band, and the braves of Tamdoka are many; But soon I return to the land, and a cloud of my hunters will follow. When the cold winds of winter return and toss the white robes of the prairies, The fire of the White Chief will burn in his lodge at the Meeting-of-Waters;[AL] And when from the Sunrise again comes the chief of the sons of the Morning, Many moons will his hunters remain in the land of the friendly Dakotas. The son of Chief Wazi-Kute guides the White Chief afar on his journey; Nor long on the Tanka Mede[AM]— on the breast of the blue, bounding billows— Shall the bark of the Frenchman delay, but his pathway shall kindle behind him."
[AL] Mendota—properly Mdo-te—meaning the out-let of a lake or river into another, commonly applied to the region about Fort Snelling.
[AM] Tanka-Mede—Great Lake, i.e. Lake Superior. The Dakotas seem to have had no other name for it. They generally referred to it as Mini-ya-ta—There at the water.
She was pale, and her hurried voice swelled with alarm as she questioned replying— "Tamdoka thy guide?—I beheld thy death in his face at the races. He covers his heart with a smile, but revenge never sleeps in his bosom; His tongue—it is soft to beguile; but beware of the pur of the panther! For death, like a shadow, will walk by thy side in the midst of the forest, Or follow thy path like a hawk on the trail of a wounded Mastinca.[AN] A son of Unktehee is he,— the Chief of the crafty magicians; They have plotted thy death; I can see thy trail—it is red in the forest; Beware of Tamdoka,—beware. Slumber not like the grouse of the woodlands, With head under wing, for the glare of the eyes that sleep not are upon thee."
[AN] The rabbit. The Dakotas called the Crees "Mastincapi"—Rabbits.
"Winona, fear not," said DuLuth, "for I carry the fire of Wakinyan[AO] And strong is the arm of my youth, and stout are the hearts of my warriors; But Winona has spoken the truth, and the heart of the White Chief is thankful. Hide this in thy bosom, dear maid,— 'tis the crucified Christ of the white men.[AP] Lift thy voice to his spirit in need, and his spirit will hear thee and answer; For often he comes to my aid; he is stronger than all the Dakotas; And the Spirits of evil, afraid, hide away when he looks from the heavens." In her swelling, brown bosom she hid the crucified Jesus in silver; "Niwaste,"[AQ] she sadly replied; in her low voice the rising tears trembled; Her dewy eyes turned she aside, and she slowly returned to the teepees. But still on the swift river's strand, admiring the graceful Winona, As she gathered, with brown, dimpled hand, her hair from the wind, stood the Frenchman.
To bid the brave White Chief adieu, on the shady shore gathered the warriors; His glad boatmen manned the canoe, and the oars in their hands were impatient. Spake the Chief of Isantees: "A feast will await the return of my brother. In peace rose the sun in the East, in peace in the West he descended. May the feet of my brother be swift till they bring him again to our teepees, The red pipe he takes as a gift, may he smoke that red pipe many winters. At my lodge-fire his pipe shall be lit, when the White Chief returns to Kathaga; On the robes of my tee shall he sit; he shall smoke with the chiefs of my people. The brave love the brave, and his son sends the Chief as a guide for his brother, By the way of the Wakpa Wakan[AR] to the Chief at the Lake of the Spirits. As light as the foot-steps of dawn are the feet of the stealthy Tamdoka; He fears not the Maza Wakan;[AS] he is sly as the fox of the forest. When he dances the dance of red war howl the wolves by the broad Mini-ya-ta,[AT] For they scent on the south-wind afar their feast on the bones of Ojibways." Thrice the Chief puffed the red pipe of peace, ere it passed to the lips of the Frenchman. Spake DuLuth: "May the Great Spirit bless with abundance the Chief and his people; May their sons and their daughters increase, and the fire ever burn in their teepees." Then he waved with a flag his adieu to the Chief and the warriors assembled; And away shot Tamdoka's canoe to the strokes of ten sinewy hunters; And a white path he clove up the blue, bubbling stream of the swift Mississippi; And away on his foaming trail flew, like a sea-gull, the bark of the Frenchman.
[AO] i.e. fire-arms which the Dakotas compare to the roar of the wings of the Thunder-bird and the fierey arrows he shoots.
[AP] DuLuth was a devout Catholic.
[AQ] Nee-wah-shtay—Thou art good.
[AR] Spirit-River, now called Rum River.
[AT] Lake Superior—at that time the home of the Ojibways (Chippewas).
Then merrily rose the blithe song of the voyageurs homeward returning, And thus, as they glided along, sang the bugle-voiced boatmen in chorus:
Home again! home again! bend to the oar! Merry is the life of the gay voyageur. He rides on the river with his paddle in his hand, And his boat is his shelter on the water and the land. The clam has his shell and the water-turtle too, But the brave boatman's shell is his birch-bark canoe. So pull away, boatmen; bend to the oar; Merry is the life of the gay voyageur.
Home again! home again! bend to the oar! Merry is the life of the gay voyageur, His couch is as downy as a couch can be, For he sleeps on the feathers of the green fir-tree. He dines on the fat of the pemmican-sack, And his eau de vie is the eau de lac. So pull away, boatmen; bend to the oar; Merry is the life of the gay voyageur.
Home again! home again! bend to the oar! Merry is the life of the gay voyageur. The brave, jolly boatman,—he never is afraid When he meets at the portage a red, forest maid, A Huron, or a Cree, or a blooming Chippeway; And he marks his trail with the bois brules[AU] So pull away, boatmen; bend to the oar; Merry is the life of the gay voyageur. Home again! home again! bend to the oar! Merry is the life of the gay voyageur.
In the reeds of the meadow the stag lifts his branchy head stately and listens, And the bobolink, perched on the flag, her ear sidelong bends to the chorus. From the brow of the Beautiful Isle,[AV] half hid in the midst of the maples, The sad-faced Winona, the while, watched the boat growing less in the distance, Till away in the bend of the stream, where it turned and was lost in the lindens, She saw the last dip and the gleam of the oars ere they vanished forever.
[AU] "Burnt woods"—half-breeds.
[AV] Wita Waste—"Beautiful Island"; the Dakota name for Nicollet Island.
Still afar on the waters the song, like bridal bells distantly chiming, The stout, jolly boatmen prolong, beating time with the stroke of their paddles; And Winona's ear, turned to the breeze, lists the air falling fainter and fainter, Till it dies like the murmur of bees when the sun is aslant on the meadows. Blow, breezes,—blow softly and sing in the dark, flowing hair of the maiden; But never again shall you bring the voice that she loves to Winona.
THE CANOE RACE.
Now a light rustling wind from the South shakes his wings o'er the wide, wimpling waters: Up the dark-winding river DuLuth follows fast in the wake of Tamdoka. On the slopes of the emerald shores leafy woodlands and prairies alternate; On the vine-tangled islands the flowers peep timidly out at the white men; In the dark-winding eddy the loon sits warily watching and voiceless, And the wild-goose, in reedy lagoon, stills the prattle and play of her children. The does and their sleek, dappled fawns prick their ears and peer out from the thickets, And the bison-calves play on the lawns, and gambol like colts in the clover. Up the still-flowing Wakpa Wakan's winding path through the groves and the meadows, Now DuLuth's brawny boatmen pursue the swift-gliding bark of Tamdoka; And hardly the red braves out-do the stout, steady oars of the white men.
Now they bend to their oars in the race— the ten tawny braves of Tamdoka; And hard on their heels in the chase ply the six stalwart oars of the Frenchmen. In the stern of his boat sits DuLuth; in the stern of his boat sits Tamdoka, And warily, cheerily, both urge the oars of their men to the utmost. Far-stretching away to the eyes, winding blue in the midst of the meadows, As a necklet of sapphires that lies unclaspt in the lap of a virgin, Here asleep in the lap of the plain lies the reed-bordered, beautiful river. Like two flying coursers that strain, on the track, neck and neck on the home-stretch, With nostrils distended and mane froth-flecked, and the neck and the shoulders, Each urged to his best by the cry and the whip and the rein of his rider, Now they skim o'er the waters and fly, side by side, neck and neck, through the meadows, The blue heron flaps from the reeds, and away wings her course up the river: Straight and swift is her flight o'er the meads, but she hardly outstrips the canoemen. See! the voyageurs bend to their oars till the blue veins swell out on their foreheads; And the sweat from their brawny breasts pours; but in vain their Herculean labor; For the oars of Tamdoka are ten, and but six are the oars of the Frenchman, And the red warriors' burden of men is matched by the voyageurs' luggage. Side by side, neck and neck, for a mile, still they strain their strong arms to the utmost, Till rounding a willowy isle, now ahead creeps the boat of Tamdoka, And the neighboring forests profound, and the far-stretching plain of the meadows To the whoop of the victors resound, while the panting French rest on their paddles.
With sable wings wide o'er the land night sprinkles the dew of the heavens; And hard by the dark river's strand, in the midst of a tall, somber forest, Two camp fires are lighted and beam on the trunks and the arms of the pine trees. In the fitful light darkle and gleam the swarthy-hued faces around them. And one is the camp of DuLuth, and the other the camp of Tamdoka. But few are the jests and uncouth of the voyageurs over their supper, While moody and silent the braves round their fire in a circle sit crouching; And low is the whisper of leaves and the sough of the wind in the branches; And low is the long-winding howl of the lone wolf afar in the forest; But shrill is the hoot of the owl, like a bugle-blast blown in the pine-tops, And the half-startled voyageurs scowl at the sudden and saucy intruder. Like the eyes of the wolves are the eyes of the watchful and silent Dakotas; Like the face of the moon in the skies, when the clouds chase each other across it, Is Tamdoka's dark face in the light of the flickering flames of the camp-fire. They have plotted red murder by night, and securely contemplate their victims. But wary and armed to the teeth are the resolute Frenchmen, and ready, If need be, to grapple with death, and to die hand to hand in the forest. Yet skilled in the arts and the wiles of the cunning and crafty Algonkins[AW] They cover their hearts with their smiles, and hide their suspicions of evil. Round their low, smouldering fire, feigning sleep, lie the watchful and wily Dakotas; But DuLuth and his voyageurs heap their fire that shall blaze till the morning, Ere they lay themselves snugly to rest, with their guns by their sides on the blankets, As if there were none to molest but the gray, skulking wolves of the forest.
'Tis midnight. The rising moon gleams, weird and still, o'er the dusky horizon; Through the hushed, somber forest she beams, and fitfully gloams on the meadows; And a dim, glimmering pathway she paves, at times, on the dark stretch of river. The winds are asleep in the caves— in the heart of the far-away mountains; And here on the meadows and there, the lazy mists gather and hover; And the lights of the Fen-Spirits flare and dance on the low-lying marshes, As still as the footsteps of death by the bed of the babe and its mother; And hushed are the pines, and beneath lie the weary-limbed boatmen in slumber. Walk softly,—walk softly, O Moon, through the gray, broken clouds in thy pathway, For the earth lies asleep and the boon of repose is bestowed on the weary. Toiling hands have forgotten their care; e'en the brooks have forgotten to murmur; But hark!—there's a sound on the air!— 'tis the light-rustling robes of the Spirits, Like the breath of the night in the leaves or the murmur of reeds on the river, In the cool of the mid-summer eyes, when the blaze of the day has descended. Low-crouching and shadowy forms, as still as the gray morning's footsteps, Creep sly as the serpent that charms, on her nest in the meadow, the plover; In the shadows of pine-trunks they creep, but their panther-eyes gleam in the fire-light, As they peer on the white-men asleep, in the glow of the fire, on their blankets. Lo in each swarthy right-hand a knife; in the left-hand, the bow and the arrows! Brave Frenchmen, awake to the strife!— or you sleep in the forest forever. Nay, nearer and nearer they glide, like ghosts on the field of their battles, Till close on the sleepers, they bide but the signal of death from Tamdoka. Still the sleepers sleep on. Not a breath stirs the leaves of the awe-stricken forest; The hushed air is heavy with death; like the footsteps of death are the moments. "Arise!"—At the word, with a bound, to their feet spring the vigilant Frenchmen; And the depths of the forest resound to the crack and the roar of their rifles; And seven writhing forms on the ground clutch the earth. From the pine-tops the screech-owl Screams and flaps his wide wings in affright, and plunges away through the shadows; And swift on the wings of the night flee the dim, phantom-forms through the darkness. Like cabris when white wolves pursue, fled the four yet remaining Dakotas; Through forest and fen-land they flew, and wild terror howled on their footsteps. And one was Tamdoka. DuLuth through the night sent his voice like a trumpet: "Ye are Sons of Unktehee, forsooth! Return to your mothers, ye cowards!" His shrill voice they heard as they fled, but only the echoes made answer. At the feet of the brave Frenchmen, dead, lay seven swarthy Sons of whitehead; And there, in the midst of the slain, they found, as it gleamed in the fire-light, The horn-handled knife from the Seine, where it fell from the hand of Tamdoka.