THE SONG OF HIAWATHA
Henry W. Longfellow
Introductory Note Introduction I. The Peace-Pipe II. The Four Winds III. Hiawatha's Childhood IV. Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis V. Hiawatha's Fasting VI. Hiawatha's Friends VII. Hiawatha's Sailing VIII. Hiawatha's Fishing IX. Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather X. Hiawatha's Wooing XI. Hiawatha's Wedding-Feast XII. The Son of the Evening Star XIII. Blessing the Corn-Fields XIV. Picture-Writing XV. Hiawatha's Lamentation XVI. Pau-Puk-Keewis XVII. The Hunting of Pau-Puk-Keewis XVIII. The Death of Kwasind XIX. The Ghosts XX. The Famine XXI. The White Man's Foot XXII. Hiawatha's Departure Vocabulary
The Song of Hiawatha is based on the legends and stories of many North American Indian tribes, but especially those of the Ojibway Indians of northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. They were collected by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, the reknowned historian, pioneer explorer, and geologist. He was superintendent of Indian affairs for Michigan from 1836 to 1841.
Schoolcraft married Jane, O-bah-bahm-wawa-ge-zhe-go-qua (The Woman of the Sound Which the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky), Johnston. Jane was a daughter of John Johnston, an early Irish fur trader, and O-shau-gus-coday-way-qua (The Woman of the Green Prairie), who was a daughter of Waub-o-jeeg (The White Fisher), who was Chief of the Ojibway tribe at La Pointe, Wisconsin.
Jane and her mother are credited with having researched, authenticated, and compiled much of the material Schoolcraft included in his Algic Researches (1839) and a revision published in 1856 as The Myth of Hiawatha. It was this latter revision that Longfellow used as the basis for The Song of Hiawatha.
Longfellow began Hiawatha on June 25, 1854, he completed it on March 29, 1855, and it was published November 10, 1855. As soon as the poem was published its popularity was assured. However, it also was severely criticized as a plagiary of the Finnish epic poem Kalevala. Longfellow made no secret of the fact that he had used the meter of the Kalevala; but as for the legends, he openly gave credit to Schoolcraft in his notes to the poem.
I would add a personal note here. My father's roots include Ojibway Indians: his mother, Margaret Caroline Davenport, was a daughter of Susan des Carreaux, O-gee-em-a-qua (The Chief Woman), Davenport whose mother was a daughter of Chief Waub-o-jeeg. Finally, my mother used to rock me to sleep reading portions of Hiawatha to me, especially:
"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!"
Woodrow W. Morris April 1, 1991
The Song of Hiawatha Introduction
Should you ask me, whence these stories? Whence these legends and traditions, With the odors of the forest With the dew and damp of meadows, With the curling smoke of wigwams, With the rushing of great rivers, With their frequent repetitions, And their wild reverberations As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you, "From the forests and the prairies, From the great lakes of the Northland, From the land of the Ojibways, From the land of the Dacotahs, From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, Feeds among the reeds and rushes. I repeat them as I heard them From the lips of Nawadaha, The musician, the sweet singer."
Should you ask where Nawadaha Found these songs so wild and wayward, Found these legends and traditions, I should answer, I should tell you, "In the bird's-nests of the forest, In the lodges of the beaver, In the hoofprint of the bison, In the eyry of the eagle!
"All the wild-fowl sang them to him, In the moorlands and the fen-lands, In the melancholy marshes; Chetowaik, the plover, sang them, Mahng, the loon, the wild-goose, Wawa, The blue heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, And the grouse, the Mushkodasa!"
If still further you should ask me, Saying, "Who was Nawadaha? Tell us of this Nawadaha," I should answer your inquiries Straightway in such words as follow.
"In the vale of Tawasentha, In the green and silent valley, By the pleasant water-courses, Dwelt the singer Nawadaha. Round about the Indian village Spread the meadows and the corn-fields, And beyond them stood the forest, Stood the groves of singing pine-trees, Green in Summer, white in Winter, Ever sighing, ever singing.
"And the pleasant water-courses, You could trace them through the valley, By the rushing in the Spring-time, By the alders in the Summer, By the white fog in the Autumn, By the black line in the Winter; And beside them dwelt the singer, In the vale of Tawasentha, In the green and silent valley.
"There he sang of Hiawatha, Sang the Song of Hiawatha, Sang his wondrous birth and being, How he prayed and how be fasted, How he lived, and toiled, and suffered, That the tribes of men might prosper, That he might advance his people!"
Ye who love the haunts of Nature, Love the sunshine of the meadow, Love the shadow of the forest, Love the wind among the branches, And the rain-shower and the snow-storm, And the rushing of great rivers Through their palisades of pine-trees, And the thunder in the mountains, Whose innumerable echoes Flap like eagles in their eyries;— Listen to these wild traditions, To this Song of Hiawatha!
Ye who love a nation's legends, Love the ballads of a people, That like voices from afar off Call to us to pause and listen, Speak in tones so plain and childlike, Scarcely can the ear distinguish Whether they are sung or spoken;— Listen to this Indian Legend, To this Song of Hiawatha!
Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple, Who have faith in God and Nature, Who believe that in all ages Every human heart is human, That in even savage bosoms There are longings, yearnings, strivings For the good they comprehend not, That the feeble hands and helpless, Groping blindly in the darkness, Touch God's right hand in that darkness And are lifted up and strengthened;— Listen to this simple story, To this Song of Hiawatha!
Ye, who sometimes, in your rambles Through the green lanes of the country, Where the tangled barberry-bushes Hang their tufts of crimson berries Over stone walls gray with mosses, Pause by some neglected graveyard, For a while to muse, and ponder On a half-effaced inscription, Written with little skill of song-craft, Homely phrases, but each letter Full of hope and yet of heart-break, Full of all the tender pathos Of the Here and the Hereafter; Stay and read this rude inscription, Read this Song of Hiawatha!
On the Mountains of the Prairie, On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry, Gitche Manito, the mighty, He the Master of Life, descending, On the red crags of the quarry Stood erect, and called the nations, Called the tribes of men together.
From his footprints flowed a river, Leaped into the light of morning, O'er the precipice plunging downward Gleamed like Ishkoodah, the comet. And the Spirit, stooping earthward, With his finger on the meadow Traced a winding pathway for it, Saying to it, "Run in this way!"
From the red stone of the quarry With his hand he broke a fragment, Moulded it into a pipe-head, Shaped and fashioned it with figures; From the margin of the river Took a long reed for a pipe-stem, With its dark green leaves upon it; Filled the pipe with bark of willow, With the bark of the red willow; Breathed upon the neighboring forest, Made its great boughs chafe together, Till in flame they burst and kindled; And erect upon the mountains, Gitche Manito, the mighty, Smoked the calumet, the Peace-Pipe, As a signal to the nations.
And the smoke rose slowly, slowly, Through the tranquil air of morning, First a single line of darkness, Then a denser, bluer vapor, Then a snow-white cloud unfolding, Like the tree-tops of the forest, Ever rising, rising, rising, Till it touched the top of heaven, Till it broke against the heaven, And rolled outward all around it.
From the Vale of Tawasentha, From the Valley of Wyoming, From the groves of Tuscaloosa, From the far-off Rocky Mountains, From the Northern lakes and rivers All the tribes beheld the signal, Saw the distant smoke ascending, The Pukwana of the Peace-Pipe.
And the Prophets of the nations Said: "Behold it, the Pukwana! By the signal of the Peace-Pipe, Bending like a wand of willow, Waving like a hand that beckons, Gitche Manito, the mighty, Calls the tribes of men together, Calls the warriors to his council!"
Down the rivers, o'er the prairies, Came the warriors of the nations, Came the Delawares and Mohawks, Came the Choctaws and Camanches, Came the Shoshonies and Blackfeet, Came the Pawnees and Omahas,
Came the Mandans and Dacotahs, Came the Hurons and Ojibways, All the warriors drawn together By the signal of the Peace-Pipe, To the Mountains of the Prairie, To the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,
And they stood there on the meadow, With their weapons and their war-gear, Painted like the leaves of Autumn, Painted like the sky of morning, Wildly glaring at each other; In their faces stern defiance, In their hearts the feuds of ages, The hereditary hatred, The ancestral thirst of vengeance.
Gitche Manito, the mighty, The creator of the nations, Looked upon them with compassion, With paternal love and pity; Looked upon their wrath and wrangling But as quarrels among children, But as feuds and fights of children!
Over them he stretched his right hand, To subdue their stubborn natures, To allay their thirst and fever, By the shadow of his right hand; Spake to them with voice majestic As the sound of far-off waters, Falling into deep abysses, Warning, chiding, spake in this wise:
"O my children! my poor children! Listen to the words of wisdom, Listen to the words of warning, From the lips of the Great Spirit, From the Master of Life, who made you!
"I have given you lands to hunt in, I have given you streams to fish in, I have given you bear and bison, I have given you roe and reindeer, I have given you brant and beaver, Filled the marshes full of wild-fowl, Filled the rivers full of fishes: Why then are you not contented? Why then will you hunt each other?
"I am weary of your quarrels, Weary of your wars and bloodshed, Weary of your prayers for vengeance, Of your wranglings and dissensions; All your strength is in your union, All your danger is in discord; Therefore be at peace henceforward, And as brothers live together.
"I will send a Prophet to you, A Deliverer of the nations, Who shall guide you and shall teach you, Who shall toil and suffer with you. If you listen to his counsels, You will multiply and prosper; If his warnings pass unheeded, You will fade away and perish!
"Bathe now in the stream before you, Wash the war-paint from your faces, Wash the blood-stains from your fingers, Bury your war-clubs and your weapons, Break the red stone from this quarry, Mould and make it into Peace-Pipes, Take the reeds that grow beside you, Deck them with your brightest feathers, Smoke the calumet together, And as brothers live henceforward!"
Then upon the ground the warriors Threw their cloaks and shirts of deer-skin, Threw their weapons and their war-gear, Leaped into the rushing river, Washed the war-paint from their faces. Clear above them flowed the water, Clear and limpid from the footprints Of the Master of Life descending; Dark below them flowed the water, Soiled and stained with streaks of crimson, As if blood were mingled with it!
From the river came the warriors, Clean and washed from all their war-paint; On the banks their clubs they buried, Buried all their warlike weapons. Gitche Manito, the mighty, The Great Spirit, the creator, Smiled upon his helpless children!
And in silence all the warriors Broke the red stone of the quarry, Smoothed and formed it into Peace-Pipes, Broke the long reeds by the river, Decked them with their brightest feathers, And departed each one homeward, While the Master of Life, ascending, Through the opening of cloud-curtains, Through the doorways of the heaven, Vanished from before their faces, In the smoke that rolled around him, The Pukwana of the Peace-Pipe!
The Four Winds
"Honor be to Mudjekeewis!" Cried the warriors, cried the old men, When he came in triumph homeward With the sacred Belt of Wampum, From the regions of the North-Wind, From the kingdom of Wabasso, From the land of the White Rabbit.
He had stolen the Belt of Wampum From the neck of Mishe-Mokwa, From the Great Bear of the mountains, From the terror of the nations, As he lay asleep and cumbrous On the summit of the mountains, Like a rock with mosses on it, Spotted brown and gray with mosses.
Silently he stole upon him Till the red nails of the monster Almost touched him, almost scared him, Till the hot breath of his nostrils Warmed the hands of Mudjekeewis, As he drew the Belt of Wampum Over the round ears, that heard not, Over the small eyes, that saw not, Over the long nose and nostrils, The black muffle of the nostrils, Out of which the heavy breathing Warmed the hands of Mudjekeewis.
Then he swung aloft his war-club, Shouted loud and long his war-cry, Smote the mighty Mishe-Mokwa In the middle of the forehead, Right between the eyes he smote him.
With the heavy blow bewildered, Rose the Great Bear of the mountains; But his knees beneath him trembled, And he whimpered like a woman, As he reeled and staggered forward, As he sat upon his haunches; And the mighty Mudjekeewis, Standing fearlessly before him, Taunted him in loud derision, Spake disdainfully in this wise:
"Hark you, Bear! you are a coward; And no Brave, as you pretended; Else you would not cry and whimper Like a miserable woman! Bear! you know our tribes are hostile, Long have been at war together; Now you find that we are strongest, You go sneaking in the forest, You go hiding in the mountains! Had you conquered me in battle Not a groan would I have uttered; But you, Bear! sit here and whimper, And disgrace your tribe by crying, Like a wretched Shaugodaya, Like a cowardly old woman!"
Then again he raised his war-club, Smote again the Mishe-Mokwa In the middle of his forehead, Broke his skull, as ice is broken When one goes to fish in Winter. Thus was slain the Mishe-Mokwa, He the Great Bear of the mountains, He the terror of the nations.
"Honor be to Mudjekeewis!" With a shout exclaimed the people, "Honor be to Mudjekeewis! Henceforth he shall be the West-Wind, And hereafter and forever Shall he hold supreme dominion Over all the winds of heaven. Call him no more Mudjekeewis, Call him Kabeyun, the West-Wind!"
Thus was Mudjekeewis chosen Father of the Winds of Heaven. For himself he kept the West-Wind, Gave the others to his children; Unto Wabun gave the East-Wind, Gave the South to Shawondasee, And the North-Wind, wild and cruel, To the fierce Kabibonokka.
Young and beautiful was Wabun; He it was who brought the morning, He it was whose silver arrows Chased the dark o'er hill and valley; He it was whose cheeks were painted With the brightest streaks of crimson, And whose voice awoke the village, Called the deer, and called the hunter.
Lonely in the sky was Wabun; Though the birds sang gayly to him, Though the wild-flowers of the meadow Filled the air with odors for him; Though the forests and the rivers Sang and shouted at his coming, Still his heart was sad within him, For he was alone in heaven.
But one morning, gazing earthward, While the village still was sleeping, And the fog lay on the river, Like a ghost, that goes at sunrise, He beheld a maiden walking All alone upon a meadow, Gathering water-flags and rushes By a river in the meadow.
Every morning, gazing earthward, Still the first thing he beheld there Was her blue eyes looking at him, Two blue lakes among the rushes. And he loved the lonely maiden, Who thus waited for his coming; For they both were solitary, She on earth and he in heaven.
And he wooed her with caresses, Wooed her with his smile of sunshine, With his flattering words he wooed her, With his sighing and his singing, Gentlest whispers in the branches, Softest music, sweetest odors, Till he drew her to his bosom, Folded in his robes of crimson, Till into a star he changed her, Trembling still upon his bosom; And forever in the heavens They are seen together walking, Wabun and the Wabun-Annung, Wabun and the Star of Morning.
But the fierce Kabibonokka Had his dwelling among icebergs, In the everlasting snow-drifts, In the kingdom of Wabasso, In the land of the White Rabbit. He it was whose hand in Autumn Painted all the trees with scarlet, Stained the leaves with red and yellow; He it was who sent the snow-flake, Sifting, hissing through the forest, Froze the ponds, the lakes, the rivers, Drove the loon and sea-gull southward, Drove the cormorant and curlew To their nests of sedge and sea-tang In the realms of Shawondasee.
Once the fierce Kabibonokka Issued from his lodge of snow-drifts From his home among the icebergs, And his hair, with snow besprinkled, Streamed behind him like a river, Like a black and wintry river, As he howled and hurried southward, Over frozen lakes and moorlands.
There among the reeds and rushes Found he Shingebis, the diver, Trailing strings of fish behind him, O'er the frozen fens and moorlands, Lingering still among the moorlands, Though his tribe had long departed To the land of Shawondasee.
Cried the fierce Kabibonokka, "Who is this that dares to brave me? Dares to stay in my dominions, When the Wawa has departed, When the wild-goose has gone southward, And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, Long ago departed southward? I will go into his wigwam, I will put his smouldering fire out!"
And at night Kabibonokka, To the lodge came wild and wailing, Heaped the snow in drifts about it, Shouted down into the smoke-flue, Shook the lodge-poles in his fury, Flapped the curtain of the door-way. Shingebis, the diver, feared not, Shingebis, the diver, cared not; Four great logs had he for firewood, One for each moon of the winter, And for food the fishes served him. By his blazing fire he sat there, Warm and merry, eating, laughing, Singing, "O Kabibonokka, You are but my fellow-mortal!"
Then Kabibonokka entered, And though Shingebis, the diver, Felt his presence by the coldness, Felt his icy breath upon him, Still he did not cease his singing, Still he did not leave his laughing, Only turned the log a little, Only made the fire burn brighter, Made the sparks fly up the smoke-flue.
From Kabibonokka's forehead, From his snow-besprinkled tresses, Drops of sweat fell fast and heavy, Making dints upon the ashes, As along the eaves of lodges, As from drooping boughs of hemlock, Drips the melting snow in spring-time, Making hollows in the snow-drifts.
Till at last he rose defeated, Could not bear the heat and laughter, Could not bear the merry singing, But rushed headlong through the door-way, Stamped upon the crusted snow-drifts, Stamped upon the lakes and rivers, Made the snow upon them harder, Made the ice upon them thicker, Challenged Shingebis, the diver, To come forth and wrestle with him, To come forth and wrestle naked On the frozen fens and moorlands.
Forth went Shingebis, the diver, Wrestled all night with the North-Wind, Wrestled naked on the moorlands With the fierce Kabibonokka, Till his panting breath grew fainter, Till his frozen grasp grew feebler, Till he reeled and staggered backward, And retreated, baffled, beaten, To the kingdom of Wabasso, To the land of the White Rabbit, Hearing still the gusty laughter, Hearing Shingebis, the diver, Singing, "O Kabibonokka, You are but my fellow-mortal!"
Shawondasee, fat and lazy, Had his dwelling far to southward, In the drowsy, dreamy sunshine, In the never-ending Summer. He it was who sent the wood-birds, Sent the robin, the Opechee, Sent the bluebird, the Owaissa, Sent the Shawshaw, sent the swallow, Sent the wild-goose, Wawa, northward, Sent the melons and tobacco, And the grapes in purple clusters.
From his pipe the smoke ascending Filled the sky with haze and vapor, Filled the air with dreamy softness, Gave a twinkle to the water, Touched the rugged hills with smoothness, Brought the tender Indian Summer To the melancholy north-land, In the dreary Moon of Snow-shoes.
Listless, careless Shawondasee! In his life he had one shadow, In his heart one sorrow had he. Once, as he was gazing northward, Far away upon a prairie He beheld a maiden standing, Saw a tall and slender maiden All alone upon a prairie; Brightest green were all her garments, And her hair was like the sunshine.
Day by day he gazed upon her, Day by day he sighed with passion, Day by day his heart within him Grew more hot with love and longing For the maid with yellow tresses. But he was too fat and lazy To bestir himself and woo her. Yes, too indolent and easy To pursue her and persuade her; So he only gazed upon her, Only sat and sighed with passion For the maiden of the prairie.
Till one morning, looking northward, He beheld her yellow tresses Changed and covered o'er with whiteness, Covered as with whitest snow-flakes. "Ah! my brother from the North-land, From the kingdom of Wabasso, From the land of the White Rabbit! You have stolen the maiden from me, You have laid your hand upon her, You have wooed and won my maiden, With your stories of the North-land!"
Thus the wretched Shawondasee Breathed into the air his sorrow; And the South-Wind o'er the prairie Wandered warm with sighs of passion, With the sighs of Shawondasee, Till the air seemed full of snow-flakes, Full of thistle-down the prairie, And the maid with hair like sunshine Vanished from his sight forever; Never more did Shawondasee See the maid with yellow tresses!
Poor, deluded Shawondasee! 'T was no woman that you gazed at, 'T was no maiden that you sighed for, 'T was the prairie dandelion That through all the dreamy Summer You had gazed at with such longing, You had sighed for with such passion, And had puffed away forever, Blown into the air with sighing. Ah! deluded Shawondasee!
Thus the Four Winds were divided Thus the sons of Mudjekeewis Had their stations in the heavens, At the corners of the heavens; For himself the West-Wind only Kept the mighty Mudjekeewis.
Downward through the evening twilight, In the days that are forgotten, In the unremembered ages, From the full moon fell Nokomis, Fell the beautiful Nokomis, She a wife, but not a mother.
She was sporting with her women, Swinging in a swing of grape-vines, When her rival the rejected, Full of jealousy and hatred, Cut the leafy swing asunder, Cut in twain the twisted grape-vines, And Nokomis fell affrighted Downward through the evening twilight, On the Muskoday, the meadow, On the prairie full of blossoms. "See! a star falls!" said the people; "From the sky a star is falling!"
There among the ferns and mosses, There among the prairie lilies, On the Muskoday, the meadow, In the moonlight and the starlight, Fair Nokomis bore a daughter. And she called her name Wenonah, As the first-born of her daughters. And the daughter of Nokomis Grew up like the prairie lilies, Grew a tall and slender maiden, With the beauty of the moonlight, With the beauty of the starlight.
And Nokomis warned her often, Saying oft, and oft repeating, "Oh, beware of Mudjekeewis, Of the West-Wind, Mudjekeewis; Listen not to what he tells you; Lie not down upon the meadow, Stoop not down among the lilies, Lest the West-Wind come and harm you!"
But she heeded not the warning, Heeded not those words of wisdom, And the West-Wind came at evening, Walking lightly o'er the prairie, Whispering to the leaves and blossoms, Bending low the flowers and grasses, Found the beautiful Wenonah, Lying there among the lilies, Wooed her with his words of sweetness, Wooed her with his soft caresses, Till she bore a son in sorrow, Bore a son of love and sorrow.
Thus was born my Hiawatha, Thus was born the child of wonder; But the daughter of Nokomis, Hiawatha's gentle mother, In her anguish died deserted By the West-Wind, false and faithless, By the heartless Mudjekeewis.
For her daughter long and loudly Wailed and wept the sad Nokomis; "Oh that I were dead!" she murmured, "Oh that I were dead, as thou art! No more work, and no more weeping, Wahonowin! Wahonowin!"
By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis. Dark behind it rose the forest, Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees, Rose the firs with cones upon them; Bright before it beat the water, Beat the clear and sunny water, Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
There the wrinkled old Nokomis Nursed the little Hiawatha, Rocked him in his linden cradle, Bedded soft in moss and rushes, Safely bound with reindeer sinews; Stilled his fretful wail by saying, "Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!" Lulled him into slumber, singing, "Ewa-yea! my little owlet! Who is this, that lights the wigwam? With his great eyes lights the wigwam? Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"
Many things Nokomis taught him Of the stars that shine in heaven; Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet, Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses; Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits, Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs, Flaring far away to northward In the frosty nights of Winter; Showed the broad white road in heaven, Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows, Running straight across the heavens, Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.
At the door on summer evenings Sat the little Hiawatha; Heard the whispering of the pine-trees, Heard the lapping of the waters, Sounds of music, words of wonder; "Minne-wawa!" said the Pine-trees, "Mudway-aushka!" said the water.
Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-taysee, Flitting through the dusk of evening, With the twinkle of its candle Lighting up the brakes and bushes, And he sang the song of children, Sang the song Nokomis taught him: "Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly, Little, flitting, white-fire insect, Little, dancing, white-fire creature, Light me with your little candle, Ere upon my bed I lay me, Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!"
Saw the moon rise from the water Rippling, rounding from the water, Saw the flecks and shadows on it, Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered: "Once a warrior, very angry, Seized his grandmother, and threw her Up into the sky at midnight; Right against the moon he threw her; 'T is her body that you see there."
Saw the rainbow in the heaven, In the eastern sky, the rainbow, Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered: "'T is the heaven of flowers you see there; All the wild-flowers of the forest, All the lilies of the prairie, When on earth they fade and perish, Blossom in that heaven above us."
When he heard the owls at midnight, Hooting, laughing in the forest, "What is that?" he cried in terror, "What is that," he said, "Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered: "That is but the owl and owlet, Talking in their native language, Talking, scolding at each other."
Then the little Hiawatha Learned of every bird its language, Learned their names and all their secrets, How they built their nests in Summer, Where they hid themselves in Winter, Talked with them whene'er he met them, Called them "Hiawatha's Chickens."
Of all beasts he learned the language, Learned their names and all their secrets, How the beavers built their lodges, Where the squirrels hid their acorns, How the reindeer ran so swiftly, Why the rabbit was so timid, Talked with them whene'er he met them, Called them "Hiawatha's Brothers."
Then Iagoo, the great boaster, He the marvellous story-teller, He the traveller and the talker, He the friend of old Nokomis, Made a bow for Hiawatha; From a branch of ash he made it, From an oak-bough made the arrows, Tipped with flint, and winged with feathers, And the cord he made of deer-skin.
Then he said to Hiawatha: "Go, my son, into the forest, Where the red deer herd together, Kill for us a famous roebuck, Kill for us a deer with antlers!"
Forth into the forest straightway All alone walked Hiawatha Proudly, with his bow and arrows; And the birds sang round him, o'er him, "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!" Sang the robin, the Opechee, Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa, "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!"
Up the oak-tree, close beside him, Sprang the squirrel, Adjidaumo, In and out among the branches, Coughed and chattered from the oak-tree, Laughed, and said between his laughing, "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"
And the rabbit from his pathway Leaped aside, and at a distance Sat erect upon his haunches, Half in fear and half in frolic, Saying to the little hunter, "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"
But he heeded not, nor heard them, For his thoughts were with the red deer; On their tracks his eyes were fastened, Leading downward to the river, To the ford across the river, And as one in slumber walked he.
Hidden in the alder-bushes, There he waited till the deer came, Till he saw two antlers lifted, Saw two eyes look from the thicket, Saw two nostrils point to windward, And a deer came down the pathway, Flecked with leafy light and shadow. And his heart within him fluttered, Trembled like the leaves above him, Like the birch-leaf palpitated, As the deer came down the pathway.
Then, upon one knee uprising, Hiawatha aimed an arrow; Scarce a twig moved with his motion, Scarce a leaf was stirred or rustled, But the wary roebuck started, Stamped with all his hoofs together, Listened with one foot uplifted, Leaped as if to meet the arrow; Ah! the singing, fatal arrow, Like a wasp it buzzed and stung him!
Dead he lay there in the forest, By the ford across the river; Beat his timid heart no longer, But the heart of Hiawatha Throbbed and shouted and exulted, As he bore the red deer homeward, And Iagoo and Nokomis Hailed his coming with applauses.
From the red deer's hide Nokomis Made a cloak for Hiawatha, From the red deer's flesh Nokomis Made a banquet to his honor. All the village came and feasted, All the guests praised Hiawatha, Called him Strong-Heart, Soan-ge-taha! Called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-go-taysee!
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 pinetrees, And in flocks the wild-goose, Wawa, Flying to the fen-lands northward, Whirring, wailing far above him. "Master of Life!" he cried, desponding, "Must our lives depend on these things?"
On the next day of his fasting By the river's brink he wandered, Through the Muskoday, the meadow, Saw the wild rice, Mahnomonee, Saw the blueberry, Meenahga, And the strawberry, Odahmin, And the gooseberry, Shahbomin, And the grape-vine, the Bemahgut, Trailing o'er the alder-branches, Filling all the air with fragrance! "Master of Life!" he cried, desponding, "Must our lives depend on these things?"
On the third day of his fasting By the lake he sat and pondered, By the still, transparent water; Saw the sturgeon, Nahma, leaping, Scattering drops like beads of wampum, Saw the yellow perch, the Sahwa, Like a sunbeam in the water, Saw the pike, the Maskenozha, And the herring, Okahahwis, And the Shawgashee, the crawfish! "Master of Life!" he cried, desponding, "Must our lives depend on these things?"
On the fourth day of his fasting In his lodge he lay exhausted; From his couch of leaves and branches Gazing with half-open eyelids, Full of shadowy dreams and visions, On the dizzy, swimming landscape, On the gleaming of the water, On the splendor of the sunset.
And he saw a youth approaching, Dressed in garments green and yellow, Coming through the purple twilight, Through the splendor of the sunset; Plumes of green bent o'er his forehead, And his hair was soft and golden.
Standing at the open doorway, Long he looked at Hiawatha, Looked with pity and compassion On his wasted form and features, And, in accents like the sighing Of the South-Wind in the tree-tops, Said he, "O my Hiawatha! All your prayers are heard in heaven, For you pray not like the others; Not for greater skill in hunting, Not for greater craft in fishing, Not for triumph in the battle, Nor renown among the warriors, But for profit of the people, For advantage of the nations.
"From the Master of Life descending, I, the friend of man, Mondamin, Come to warn you and instruct you, How by struggle and by labor You shall gain what you have prayed for. Rise up from your bed of branches, Rise, O youth, and wrestle with me!"
Faint with famine, Hiawatha Started from his bed of branches, From the twilight of his wigwam Forth into the flush of sunset Came, and wrestled with Mondamin; At his touch he felt new courage Throbbing in his brain and bosom, Felt new life and hope and vigor Run through every nerve and fibre.
So they wrestled there together In the glory of the sunset, And the more they strove and struggled, Stronger still grew Hiawatha; Till the darkness fell around them, And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, From her nest among the pine-trees, Gave a cry of lamentation, Gave a scream of pain and famine.
"'T is enough!" then said Mondamin, Smiling upon Hiawatha, "But tomorrow, when the sun sets, I will come again to try you." And he vanished, and was seen not; Whether sinking as the rain sinks, Whether rising as the mists rise, Hiawatha saw not, knew not, Only saw that he had vanished, Leaving him alone and fainting, With the misty lake below him, And the reeling stars above him.
On the morrow and the next day, When the sun through heaven descending, Like a red and burning cinder From the hearth of the Great Spirit, Fell into the western waters, Came Mondamin for the trial, For the strife with Hiawatha; Came as silent as the dew comes, From the empty air appearing, Into empty air returning, Taking shape when earth it touches, But invisible to all men In its coming and its going.
Thrice they wrestled there together In the glory of the sunset, Till the darkness fell around them, Till the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, From her nest among the pine-trees, Uttered her loud cry of famine, And Mondamin paused to listen.
Tall and beautiful he stood there, In his garments green and yellow; To and fro his plumes above him, Waved and nodded with his breathing, And the sweat of the encounter Stood like drops of dew upon him.
And he cried, "O Hiawatha! Bravely have you wrestled with me, Thrice have wrestled stoutly with me, And the Master of Life, who sees us, He will give to you the triumph!"
Then he smiled, and said: "To-morrow Is the last day of your conflict, Is the last day of your fasting. You will conquer and o'ercome me; Make a bed for me to lie in, Where the rain may fall upon me, Where the sun may come and warm me; Strip these garments, green and yellow, Strip this nodding plumage from me, Lay me in the earth, and make it Soft and loose and light above me.
"Let no hand disturb my slumber, Let no weed nor worm molest me, Let not Kahgahgee, the raven, Come to haunt me and molest me, Only come yourself to watch me, Till I wake, and start, and quicken, Till I leap into the sunshine"
And thus saying, he departed; Peacefully slept Hiawatha, But he heard the Wawonaissa, Heard the whippoorwill complaining, Perched upon his lonely wigwam; Heard the rushing Sebowisha, Heard the rivulet rippling near him, Talking to the darksome forest; Heard the sighing of the branches, As they lifted and subsided At the passing of the night-wind, Heard them, as one hears in slumber Far-off murmurs, dreamy whispers: Peacefully slept Hiawatha.
On the morrow came Nokomis, On the seventh day of his fasting, Came with food for Hiawatha, Came imploring and bewailing, Lest his hunger should o'ercome him, Lest his fasting should be fatal.
But he tasted not, and touched not, Only said to her, "Nokomis, Wait until the sun is setting, Till the darkness falls around us, Till the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, Crying from the desolate marshes, Tells us that the day is ended."
Homeward weeping went Nokomis, Sorrowing for her Hiawatha, Fearing lest his strength should fail him, Lest his fasting should be fatal. He meanwhile sat weary waiting For the coming of Mondamin, Till the shadows, pointing eastward, Lengthened over field and forest, Till the sun dropped from the heaven, Floating on the waters westward, As a red leaf in the Autumn Falls and floats upon the water, Falls and sinks into its bosom.
And behold! the young Mondamin, With his soft and shining tresses, With his garments green and yellow, With his long and glossy plumage, Stood and beckoned at the doorway. And as one in slumber walking, Pale and haggard, but undaunted, From the wigwam Hiawatha Came and wrestled with Mondamin.
Round about him spun the landscape, Sky and forest reeled together, And his strong heart leaped within him, As the sturgeon leaps and struggles In a net to break its meshes. Like a ring of fire around him Blazed and flared the red horizon, And a hundred suns seemed looking At the combat of the wrestlers.
Suddenly upon the greensward All alone stood Hiawatha, Panting with his wild exertion, Palpitating with the struggle; And before him breathless, lifeless, Lay the youth, with hair dishevelled, Plumage torn, and garments tattered, Dead he lay there in the sunset.
And victorious Hiawatha Made the grave as he commanded, Stripped the garments from Mondamin, Stripped his tattered plumage from him, Laid him in the earth, and made it Soft and loose and light above him; And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, From the melancholy moorlands, Gave a cry of lamentation, Gave a cry of pain and anguish!
Homeward then went Hiawatha To the lodge of old Nokomis, And the seven days of his fasting Were accomplished and completed. But the place was not forgotten Where he wrestled with Mondamin; Nor forgotten nor neglected Was the grave where lay Mondamin, Sleeping in the rain and sunshine, Where his scattered plumes and garments Faded in the rain and sunshine.
Day by day did Hiawatha Go to wait and watch beside it; Kept the dark mould soft above it, Kept it clean from weeds and insects, Drove away, with scoffs and shoutings, Kahgahgee, the king of ravens.
Till at length a small green feather From the earth shot slowly upward, Then another and another, And before the Summer ended Stood the maize in all its beauty, With its shining robes about it, And its long, soft, yellow tresses; And in rapture Hiawatha Cried aloud, "It is Mondamin! Yes, the friend of man, Mondamin!"
Then he called to old Nokomis And Iagoo, the great boaster, Showed them where the maize was growing, Told them of his wondrous vision, Of his wrestling and his triumph, Of this new gift to the nations, Which should be their food forever.
And still later, when the Autumn Changed the long, green leaves to yellow, And the soft and juicy kernels Grew like wampum hard and yellow, Then the ripened ears he gathered, Stripped the withered husks from off them, As he once had stripped the wrestler, Gave the first Feast of Mondamin, And made known unto the people This new gift of the Great Spirit.
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 upon 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 frame-work, 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, Dawn 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, jasperheaded, 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!"