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The Song of Hiawatha
Henry W. Longfellow
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.
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.
"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
The Song of Hiawatha
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."
"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!"
"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
"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 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
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 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.
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
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 they stood there on the meadow, With their weapons and
their war-gear, Painted like the leaves of Autumn, Painted like
the sky of morning, Wildly glaring at each other; In their faces
stem defiance, In their hearts the feuds of ages, The hereditary
hatred, The ancestral thirst of vengeance.
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 :
"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
"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
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!
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!
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
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.
"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!"
"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!"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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!"
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 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."
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."
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 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!"
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!"
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.
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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
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.
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?"
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!"
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
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
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!"
"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!
"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."
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
"'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
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.
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!"
"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"
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 bluebird, the Owaissa, Envious, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as wild and wayward, Teach me songs as full of
And the whippoorwill, Wawonaissa, Sobbing, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as melancholy, Teach me songs as full of
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.
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
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
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.
"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
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.
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.
"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!"
And the tree with all its branches Rustled in the breeze of
morning, Saying, with a sigh of patience, "Take my cloak, O
"Give me of your boughs, O Cedar! Of your strong and pliant
branches, My canoe to make more steady, Make more strong and firm
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.
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!"
"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 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.
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
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
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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!"
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!"
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!"
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.
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.
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
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 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
"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
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
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
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!
"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
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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!"
"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!"
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.
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!"
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.
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
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,
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!"
"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!"
"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
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!"
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!"
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.
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.
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
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.
At the feet of Laughing Water Hiawatha laid his burden, Threw
the red deer from his shoulders; And the maiden looked up at him,
Looked up from her mat of rushes, Said with gentle look and
accent, "You are welcome, Hiawatha!"
Then uprose the Laughing Water, From the ground fair
Minnehaha, Laid aside her mat unfinished, Brought forth food and
set before them, Water brought them from the brooklet, Gave them
food in earthen vessels, Gave them drink in bowls of bass-wood,
Listened while the guest was speaking, Listened while her father
answered, But not once her lips she opened, Not a single word she
"After many years of warfare, Many years of strife and
bloodshed, There is peace between the Ojibways And the tribe of
the Dacotahs." Thus continued Hiawatha, And then added, speaking
slowly, "That this peace may last forever, And our hands be
clasped more closely, And our hearts be more united, Give me as
my wife this maiden, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, Loveliest of
And the lovely Laughing Water Seemed more lovely as she stood
there, Neither willing nor reluctant, As she went to Hiawatha,
Softly took the seat beside him, While she said, and blushed to
say it, "I will follow you, my husband!"
From the wigwam he departed, Leading with him Laughing Water;
Hand in hand they went together, Through the woodland and the
meadow, Left the old man standing lonely At the doorway of his
wigwam, Heard the Falls of Minnehaha Calling to them from the
distance, Crying to them from afar off, "Fare thee well, O
Pleasant was the journey homeward, Through interminable
forests, Over meadow, over mountain, Over river, hill, and
hollow. Short it seemed to Hiawatha, Though they journeyed very
slowly, Though his pace he checked and slackened To the steps of
All the travelling winds went with them, O'er the meadows,
through the forest; All the stars of night looked at them,
Watched with sleepless eyes their slumber; From his ambush in the
oak-tree Peeped the squirrel, Adjidaumo, Watched with eager eyes
the lovers; And the rabbit, the Wabasso, Scampered from the path
before them, Peering, peeping from his burrow, Sat erect upon his
haunches, Watched with curious eyes the lovers.
From the sky the sun benignant Looked upon them through the
branches, Saying to them, "O my children, Love is sunshine, hate
is shadow, Life is checkered shade and sunshine, Rule by love, O
Thus it was they journeyed homeward; Thus it was that Hiawatha
To the lodge of old Nokomis Brought the moonlight, starlight,
firelight, Brought the sunshine of his people, Minnehaha,
Laughing Water, Handsomest of all the women In the land of the
Dacotahs, In the land of handsome women.
You shall hear how Pau-Puk-Keewis, How the handsome Yenadizze
Danced at Hiawatha's wedding; How the gentle Chibiabos, He the
sweetest of musicians, Sang his songs of love and longing; How
Iagoo, the great boaster, He the marvellous story-teller, Told
his tales of strange adventure, That the feast might be more
joyous, That the time might pass more gayly, And the guests be
She had sent through all the village Messengers with wands of
willow, As a sign of invitation, As a token of the feasting; And
the wedding guests assembled, Clad in all their richest raiment,
Robes of fur and belts of wampum, Splendid with their paint and
plumage, Beautiful with beads and tassels.
But the gracious Hiawatha, And the lovely Laughing Water, And
the careful old Nokomis, Tasted not the food before them, Only
waited on the others Only served their guests in silence.
Then she said, "O Pau-Puk-Keewis, Dance for us your merry
dances, Dance the Beggar's Dance to please us, That the feast may
be more joyous, That the time may pass more gayly, And our guests
be more contented!"
Skilled was he in sports and pastimes, In the merry dance of
snow-shoes, In the play of quoits and ball-play; Skilled was he
in games of hazard, In all games of skill and hazard, Pugasaing,
the Bowl and Counters, Kuntassoo, the Game of Plum-stones. Though
the warriors called him Faint-Heart, Called him coward,
Shaugodaya, Idler, gambler, Yenadizze, Little heeded he their
jesting, Little cared he for their insults, For the women and the
maidens Loved the handsome Pau-Puk-Keewis.
Barred with streaks of red and yellow, Streaks of blue and
bright vermilion, Shone the face of Pau-Puk-Keewis. From his
forehead fell his tresses, Smooth, and parted like a woman's,
Shining bright with oil, and plaited, Hung with braids of scented
grasses, As among the guests assembled, To the sound of flutes
and singing, To the sound of drums and voices, Rose the handsome
Pau-Puk-Keewis, And began his mystic dances.
Then along the sandy margin Of the lake, the Big-Sea-Water, On
he sped with frenzied gestures, Stamped upon the sand, and tossed
it Wildly in the air around him; Till the wind became a
whirlwind, Till the sand was blown and sifted Like great
snowdrifts o'er the landscape, Heaping all the shores with Sand
Dunes, Sand Hills of the Nagow Wudjoo!
Then they said to Chibiabos, To the friend of Hiawatha, To the
sweetest of all singers, To the best of all musicians, "Sing to
us, O Chibiabos! Songs of love and songs of longing, That the
feast may be more joyous, That the time may pass more gayly, And
our guests be more contented!"
"Onaway! Awake, beloved! Thou the wild-flower of the forest!
Thou the wild-bird of the prairie! Thou with eyes so soft and
"Sweet thy breath is as the fragrance Of the wild-flowers in
the morning, As their fragrance is at evening, In the Moon when
leaves are falling.
"Onaway! my heart sings to thee, Sings with joy when thou art
near me, As the sighing, singing branches In the pleasant Moon of
"When thou smilest, my beloved, Then my troubled heart is
brightened, As in sunshine gleam the ripples That the cold wind
makes in rivers.
"I myself, myself! behold me! Blood of my beating heart,
behold me! Oh awake, awake, beloved! Onaway! awake, beloved!"
Very boastful was Iagoo; Never heard he an adventure But
himself had met a greater; Never any deed of daring But himself
had done a bolder; Never any marvellous story But himself could
tell a stranger.
None could run so fast as he could, None could dive so deep as
he could, None could swim so far as he could; None had made so
many journeys, None had seen so many wonders, As this wonderful
Iagoo, As this marvellous story-teller! Thus his name became a
by-word And a jest among the people; And whene'er a boastful
hunter Praised his own address too highly, Or a warrior, home
returning, Talked too much of his achievements, All his hearers
cried, "Iagoo! Here's Iagoo come among us!"
And they said, "O good Iagoo, Tell us now a tale of wonder,
Tell us of some strange adventure, That the feast may be more
joyous, That the time may pass more gayly, And our guests be more
Can it be the sun descending O'er the level plain of water? Or
the Red Swan floating, flying, Wounded by the magic arrow,
Staining all the waves with crimson, With the crimson of its
life-blood, Filling all the air with splendor, With the splendor
of its plumage?
Over it the Star of Evening Melts and trembles through the
purple, Hangs suspended in the twilight. No; it is a bead of
wampum On the robes of the Great Spirit As he passes through the
twilight, Walks in silence through the heavens.
"Once, in days no more remembered, Ages nearer the beginning,
When the heavens were closer to us, And the Gods were more
familiar, In the North-land lived a hunter, With ten young and
comely daughters, Tall and lithe as wands of willow; Only
Oweenee, the youngest, She the wilful and the wayward, She the
silent, dreamy maiden, Was the fairest of the sisters.
"Ah, but beautiful within him Was the spirit of Osseo, From
the Evening Star descended, Star of Evening, Star of Woman, Star
of tenderness and passion! All its fire was in his bosom, All its
beauty in his spirit, All its mystery in his being, All its
splendor in his language!
'Once to some great feast invited, Through the damp and dusk
of evening, Walked together the ten sisters, Walked together with
their husbands; Slowly followed old Osseo, With fair Oweenee
beside him; All the others chatted gayly, These two only walked
'Listen!' said the eldest sister, 'He is praying to his
father! What a pity that the old man Does not stumble in the
pathway, Does not break his neck by falling!' And they laughed
till all the forest Rang with their unseemly laughter.
"Thus Osseo was transfigured, Thus restored to youth and
beauty; But, alas for good Osseo, And for Oweenee, the faithful!
Strangely, too, was she transfigured. Changed into a weak old
woman, With a staff she tottered onward, Wasted, wrinkled, old,
and ugly! And the sisters and their husbands Laughed until the
echoing forest Rang with their unseemly laughter.
"Wrapt in visions, lost in dreaming, At the banquet sat Osseo;
All were merry, all were happy, All were joyous but Osseo.
Neither food nor drink he tasted, Neither did he speak nor
listen; But as one bewildered sat he, Looking dreamily and sadly,
First at Oweenee, then upward At the gleaming sky above them.
"'Taste the food that stands before you: It is blessed and
enchanted, It has magic virtues in it, It will change you to a
spirit. All your bowls and all your kettles Shall be wood and
clay no longer; But the bowls be changed to wampum, And the
kettles shall be silver; They shall shine like shells of scarlet,
Like the fire shall gleam and glimmer.
"What Osseo heard as whispers, What as words he comprehended,
Was but music to the others, Music as of birds afar off, Of the
whippoorwill afar off, Of the lonely Wawonaissa Singing in the
"Forth with cheerful words of welcome Came the father of
Osseo, He with radiant locks of silver, He with eyes serene and
tender. And he said: `My son, Osseo, Hang the cage of birds you
bring there, Hang the cage with rods of silver, And the birds
with glistening feathers, At the doorway of my wigwam.'
"`In the lodge that glimmers yonder, In the little star that
twinkles Through the vapors, on the left hand, Lives the envious
Evil Spirit, The Wabeno, the magician, Who transformed you to an
old man. Take heed lest his beams fall on you, For the rays he
darts around him Are the power of his enchantment, Are the arrows
that he uses.'
"And the boy grew up and prospered, And Osseo, to delight him,
Made him little bows and arrows, Opened the great cage of silver,
And let loose his aunts and uncles, All those birds with glossy
feathers, For his little son to shoot at.
"But, O wondrous transformation! `T was no bird he saw before
him, `T was a beautiful young woman, With the arrow in her
"After him he saw descending All the birds with shining
feathers, Fluttering, falling, wafted downward, Like the painted
leaves of Autumn; And the lodge with poles of silver, With its
roof like wings of beetles, Like the shining shards of beetles,
By the winds of heaven uplifted, Slowly sank upon the island,
Bringing back the good Osseo, Bringing Oweenee, the faithful.
"Still their glittering lodge is seen there, On the tranquil
Summer evenings, And upon the shore the fisher Sometimes hears
their happy voices, Sees them dancing in the starlight !"
All the wedding guests delighted Listened to the marvellous
story, Listened laughing and applauding, And they whispered to
each other: "Does he mean himself, I wonder? And are we the aunts
"When I think of my beloved, Ah me! think of my beloved, When
my heart is thinking of him, O my sweetheart, my Algonquin!
"`I will go with you, he whispered, Ah me! to your native
country; Let me go with you, he whispered, O my sweetheart, my
"When I looked back to behold him, Where we parted, to behold
him, After me he still was gazing, O my sweetheart, my
Buried was the bloody hatchet, Buried was the dreadful
war-club, Buried were all warlike weapons, And the war-cry was
forgotten. There was peace among the nations; Unmolested roved
the hunters, Built the birch canoe for sailing, Caught the fish
in lake and river, Shot the deer and trapped the beaver;
Unmolested worked the women, Made their sugar from the maple,
Gathered wild rice in the meadows, Dressed the skins of deer and
Once, when all the maize was planted, Hiawatha, wise and
thoughtful, Spake and said to Minnehaha, To his wife, the
Laughing Water: "You shall bless to-night the cornfields, Draw a
magic circle round them, To protect them from destruction, Blast
of mildew, blight of insect, Wagemin, the thief of cornfields,
Paimosaid, who steals the maize-ear
"Thus the fields shall be more fruitful, And the passing of
your footsteps Draw a magic circle round them, So that neither
blight nor mildew, Neither burrowing worm nor insect, Shall pass
o'er the magic circle; Not the dragon-fly, Kwo-ne-she, Nor the
spider, Subbekashe, Nor the grasshopper, Pah-puk-keena; Nor the
mighty caterpillar, Way-muk-kwana, with the bear-skin, King of
all the caterpillars!"
When the noiseless night descended Broad and dark o'er field
and forest, When the mournful Wawonaissa Sorrowing sang among the
hemlocks, And the Spirit of Sleep, Nepahwin, Shut the doors of
all the wigwams, From her bed rose Laughing Water, Laid aside her
garments wholly, And with darkness clothed and guarded, Unashamed
and unaffrighted, Walked securely round the cornfields, Drew the
sacred, magic circle Of her footprints round the cornfields.
On the morrow, as the day dawned, Kahgahgee, the King of
Ravens, Gathered all his black marauders, Crows and blackbirds,
jays and ravens, Clamorous on the dusky tree-tops, And descended,
fast and fearless, On the fields of Hiawatha, On the grave of the
But the wary Hiawatha, Ever thoughtful, careful, watchful, Had
o'erheard the scornful laughter When they mocked him from the
tree-tops. "Kaw!" he said, "my friends the ravens! Kahgahgee, my
King of Ravens! I will teach you all a lesson That shall not be
Soon they came with caw and clamor, Rush of wings and cry of
voices, To their work of devastation, Settling down upon the
cornfields, Delving deep with beak and talon, For the body of
Mondamin. And with all their craft and cunning, All their skill
in wiles of warfare, They perceived no danger near them, Till
their claws became entangled, Till they found themselves
imprisoned In the snares of Hiawatha.
Only Kahgahgee, the leader, Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens, He
alone was spared among them As a hostage for his people. With his
prisoner-string he bound him, Led him captive to his wigwam, Tied
him fast with cords of elm-bark To the ridge-pole of his
And he left him, grim and sulky, Sitting in the morning
sunshine On the summit of the wigwam, Croaking fiercely his
displeasure, Flapping his great sable pinions, Vainly struggling
for his freedom, Vainly calling on his people!
Then Nokomis, the old woman, Spake, and said to Minnehaha:
And the merry Laughing Water Went rejoicing from the wigwam,
With Nokomis, old and wrinkled, And they called the women round
them, Called the young men and the maidens, To the harvest of the
cornfields, To the husking of the maize-ear.
And whene'er some lucky maiden Found a red ear in the husking,
Found a maize-ear red as blood is, "Nushka!" cried they all
together, "Nushka! you shall have a sweetheart, You shall have a
handsome husband!" "Ugh!" the old men all responded From their
seats beneath the pine-trees.
Till the cornfields rang with laughter, Till from Hiawatha's
wigwam Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens, Screamed and quivered in
his anger, And from all the neighboring tree-tops Cawed and
croaked the black marauders. "Ugh!" the old men all responded,
From their seats beneath the pine-trees!
"Great men die and are forgotten, Wise men speak; their words
of wisdom Perish in the ears that hear them, Do not reach the
generations That, as yet unborn, are waiting In the great,
mysterious darkness Of the speechless days that shall be!
"Face to face we speak together, But we cannot speak when
absent, Cannot send our voices from us To the friends that dwell
afar off; Cannot send a secret message, But the bearer learns our
secret, May pervert it, may betray it, May reveal it unto
others." Thus said Hiawatha, walking In the solitary forest,
Pondering, musing in the forest, On the welfare of his
Gitche Manito the Mighty, He, the Master of Life, was painted
As an egg, with points projecting To the four winds of the
heavens. Everywhere is the Great Spirit, Was the meaning of this
Life and Death he drew as circles, Life was white, but Death
was darkened; Sun and moon and stars he painted, Man and beast,
and fish and reptile, Forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers.
All these things did Hiawatha Show unto his wondering people,
And interpreted their meaning, And he said: "Behold, your
grave-posts Have no mark, no sign, nor symbol, Go and paint them
all with figures; Each one with its household symbol, With its
own ancestral Totem; So that those who follow after May
distinguish them and know them."
And the Jossakeeds, the Prophets, The Wabenos, the Magicians,
And the Medicine-men, the Medas, Painted upon bark and deer-skin
Figures for the songs they chanted, For each song a separate
symbol, Figures mystical and awful, Figures strange and brightly
colored; And each figure had its meaning, Each some magic song
Such as these the shapes they painted On the birch-bark and
the deer-skin; Songs of war and songs of hunting, Songs of
medicine and of magic, All were written in these figures, For
each figure had its meaning, Each its separate song recorded.
First a human figure standing, Painted in the brightest
scarlet; `T Is the lover, the musician, And the meaning is, "My
painting Makes me powerful over others."
Then the same red figure seated In the shelter of a wigwam,
And the meaning of the symbol, "I will come and sit beside you In
the mystery of my passion!"
Next the maiden on an island, In the centre of an Island; And
the song this shape suggested Was, "Though you were at a
distance, Were upon some far-off island, Such the spell I cast
upon you, Such the magic power of passion, I could straightway
draw you to me!"
And the last of all the figures Was a heart within a circle,
Drawn within a magic circle; And the image had this meaning:
"Naked lies your heart before me, To your naked heart I
In those days the Evil Spirits, All the Manitos of mischief,
Fearing Hiawatha's wisdom, And his love for Chibiabos, Jealous of
their faithful friendship, And their noble words and actions,
Made at length a league against them, To molest them and destroy
Once when Peboan, the Winter, Roofed with ice the
Big-Sea-Water, When the snow-flakes, whirling downward, Hissed
among the withered oak-leaves, Changed the pine-trees into
wigwams, Covered all the earth with silence, Armed with arrows,
shod with snow-shoes, Heeding not his brother's warning, Fearing
not the Evil Spirits, Forth to hunt the deer with antlers All
alone went Chibiabos.
But beneath, the Evil Spirits Lay in ambush, waiting for him,
Broke the treacherous ice beneath him, Dragged him downward to
the bottom, Buried in the sand his body. Unktahee, the god of
water, He the god of the Dacotahs, Drowned him in the deep
abysses Of the lake of Gitche Gumee.
Then his face with black he painted, With his robe his head he
covered, In his wigwam sat lamenting, Seven long weeks he sat
lamenting, Uttering still this moan of sorrow:
And the melancholy fir-trees Waved their dark green fans above
him, Waved their purple cones above him, Sighing with him to
console him, Mingling with his lamentation Their complaining,
From the tree-tops sang the bluebird, Sang the bluebird, the
Owaissa, "Chibiabos! Chibiabos! He is dead, the sweet
And at night through all the forest Went the whippoorwill
complaining, Wailing went the Wawonaissa, "Chibiabos! Chibiabos!
He is dead, the sweet musician! He the sweetest of all
When he heard their steps approaching~, Hiawatha ceased
lamenting, Called no more on Chibiabos; Naught he questioned,
naught he answered, But his mournful head uncovered, From his
face the mourning colors Washed he slowly and in silence, Slowly
and in silence followed Onward to the Sacred Wigwam.
"I myself, myself! behold me! `T Is the great Gray Eagle
talking; Come, ye white crows, come and hear him! The
loud-speaking thunder helps me; All the unseen spirits help me; I
can hear their voices calling, All around the sky I hear them! I
can blow you strong, my brother, I can heal you, Hiawatha!"
Friends of mine are all the serpents! Hear me shake my skin of
hen-hawk! Mahng, the white loon, I can kill him; I can shoot your
heart and kill it! I can blow you strong, my brother, I can heal
you, Hiawatha !"
"I myself, myself! the prophet! When I speak the wigwam
trembles, Shakes the Sacred Lodge with terror, Hands unseen begin
to shake it! When I walk, the sky I tread on Bends and makes a
noise beneath me! I can blow you strong, my brother! Rise and
speak, O Hiawatha!"
Then they shook their medicine-pouches O'er the head of
Hiawatha, Danced their medicine-dance around him; And upstarting
wild and haggard, Like a man from dreams awakened, He was healed
of all his madness. As the clouds are swept from heaven,
Straightway from his brain departed All his moody melancholy; As
the ice is swept from rivers, Straightway from his heart departed
All his sorrow and affliction.
Through a chink a coal they gave him, Through the door a
burning fire-brand; Ruler in the Land of Spirits, Ruler o'er the
dead, they made him, Telling him a fire to kindle For all those
that died thereafter, Camp-fires for their night encampments On
their solitary journey To the kingdom of Ponemah, To the land of
Four whole days he journeyed onward Down the pathway of the
dead men; On the dead-man's strawberry feasted, Crossed the
melancholy river, On the swinging log he crossed it, Came unto
the Lake of Silver, In the Stone Canoe was carried To the Islands
of the Blessed, To the land of ghosts and shadows.
"Ay! why do the living," said they, "Lay such heavy burdens on
us! Better were it to go naked, Better were it to go fasting,
Than to bear such heavy burdens On our long and weary journey!"
Forth then issued Hiawatha, Wandered eastward, wandered westward,
Teaching men the use of simples And the antidotes for poisons,
And the cure of all diseases. Thus was first made known to
mortals All the mystery of Medamin, All the sacred art of
On the shores of Gitche Gumee, On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water Stood the lodge of Pau-Puk-Keewis.
It was he who in his frenzy Whirled these drifting sands
together, On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo, When, among the guests
assembled, He so merrily and madly Danced at Hiawatha's wedding,
Danced the Beggar's Dance to please them.
He was telling them the story Of Ojeeg, the Summer-Maker, How
he made a hole in heaven, How he climbed up into heaven, And let
out the summer-weather, The perpetual, pleasant Summer; How the
Otter first essayed it; How the Beaver, Lynx, and Badger Tried in
turn the great achievement, From the summit of the mountain Smote
their fists against the heavens, Smote against the sky their
foreheads, Cracked the sky, but could not break it; How the
Wolverine, uprising, Made him ready for the encounter, Bent his
knees down, like a squirrel, Drew his arms back, like a
"Hark you!" shouted Pau-Puk-Keewis As he entered at the
doorway; "I am tired of all this talking, Tired of old Iagoo's
stories, Tired of Hiawatha's wisdom. Here is something to amuse
you, Better than this endless talking."
In a wooden bowl he placed them, Shook and jostled them
together, Threw them on the ground before him, Thus exclaiming
and explaining: "Red side up are all the pieces, And one great
Kenabeek standing On the bright side of a brass piece, On a
burnished Ozawabeek; Thirteen tens and eight are counted."
Thus he taught the game of hazard, Thus displayed it and
explained it, Running through its various chances, Various
changes, various meanings: Twenty curious eyes stared at him,
Full of eagerness stared at him.
So they sat and played together, All the old men and the young
men, Played for dresses, weapons, wampum, Played till midnight,
played till morning, Played until the Yenadizze, Till the cunning
Pau-Puk-Keewis, Of their treasures had despoiled them, Of the
best of all their dresses, Shirts of deer-skin, robes of ermine,
Belts of wampum, crests of feathers, Warlike weapons, pipes and
pouches. Twenty eyes glared wildly at him, Like the eyes of
wolves glared at him.
As the fire burns in a pipe-head Dusky red beneath the ashes,
So beneath his shaggy eyebrows Glowed the eyes of old Iagoo.
"Ugh!" he answered very fiercely; "Ugh!" they answered all and
Red were both the great Kenabeeks, Red the Ininewug, the
wedge-men, Red the Sheshebwug, the ducklings, Black the four
brass Ozawabeeks, White alone the fish, the Keego; Only five the
Twenty eyes glared at him fiercely, Like the eyes of wolves
glared at him, As he turned and left the wigwam, Followed by his
Meshinauwa, By the nephew of Iagoo, By the tall and graceful
stripling, Bearing in his arms the winnings, Shirts of deer-skin,
robes of ermine, Belts of wampum, pipes and weapons.
Hot and red with smoke and gambling Were the eyes of
Pau-Puk-Keewis As he came forth to the freshness Of the pleasant
Summer morning. All the birds were singing gayly, All the
streamlets flowing swiftly, And the heart of Pau-Puk-Keewis Sang
with pleasure as the birds sing, Beat with triumph like the
streamlets, As he wandered through the village, In the early gray
of morning, With his fan of turkey-feathers, With his plumes and
tufts of swan's down, Till he reached the farthest wigwam,
Reached the lodge of Hiawatha.
"All are gone! the lodge Is empty!" Thus it was spake
Pau-Puk-Keewis, In his heart resolving mischief "Gone is wary
Hiawatha, Gone the silly Laughing Water, Gone Nokomis, the old
woman, And the lodge is left unguarded!"
With a stealthy step he entered, Round the lodge in wild
disorder Threw the household things about him, Piled together in
confusion Bowls of wood and earthen kettles, Robes of buffalo and
beaver, Skins of otter, lynx, and ermine, As an insult to
Nokomis, As a taunt to Minnehaha.
Then he climbed the rocky headlands, Looking o'er the Gitche
Gumee, Perched himself upon their summit, Waiting full of mirth
and mischief The return of Hiawatha.
And he killed them as he lay there, Slaughtered them by tens
and twenties, Threw their bodies down the headland, Threw them on
the beach below him, Till at length Kayoshk, the sea-gull,
Perched upon a crag above them, Shouted: "It is Pau-Puk-Keewis!
He is slaying us by hundreds! Send a message to our brother,
Tidings send to Hiawatha!"
Full of wrath was Hiawatha When he came into the village,
Found the people in confusion, Heard of all the misdemeanors, All
the malice and the mischief, Of the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis.
Then in swift pursuit departed Hiawatha and the hunters On the
trail of Pau-Puk-Keewis, Through the forest, where he passed it,
To the headlands where he rested; But they found not
Pau-Puk-Keewis, Only in the trampled grasses, In the
whortleberry-bushes, Found the couch where he had rested, Found
the impress of his body.
Over rock and over river, Through bush, and brake, and forest,
Ran the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis; Like an antelope he bounded, Till
he came unto a streamlet In the middle of the forest, To a
streamlet still and tranquil, That had overflowed its margin, To
a dam made by the beavers, To a pond of quiet water, Where
knee-deep the trees were standing, Where the water lilies
floated, Where the rushes waved and whispered.
On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis, O'er his ankles flowed the
streamlet, Flowed the bright and silvery water, And he spake unto
the beaver, With a smile he spake in this wise:
Cautiously replied the beaver, With reserve he thus made
answer: "Let me first consult the others, Let me ask the other
beavers." Down he sank into the water, Heavily sank he, as a
stone sinks, Down among the leaves and branches, Brown and matted
at the bottom.
From the bottom rose the beavers, Silently above the surface
Rose one head and then another, Till the pond seemed full of
beavers, Full of black and shining faces.
"Yes!" replied Ahmeek, the beaver, He the King of all the
beavers, "Let yourself slide down among us, Down into the
"Make me large," said Pau-Puk-Keewis, "Make me large and make
me larger, Larger than the other beavers." "Yes," the beaver
chief responded, "When our lodge below you enter, In our wigwam
we will make you Ten times larger than the others."
Here they made him large and larger, Made him largest of the
beavers, Ten times larger than the others. "You shall be our
ruler," said they; "Chief and King of all the beavers."
Then they heard a cry above them, Heard a shouting and a
tramping, Heard a crashing and a rushing, And the water round and
o'er them Sank and sucked away in eddies, And they knew their dam
Through the roof looked Hiawatha, Cried aloud, "O
Pau-Puk-Keewis Vain are all your craft and cunning, Vain your
manifold disguises! Well I know you, Pau-Puk-Keewis!" With their
clubs they beat and bruised him, Beat to death poor
Pau-Puk-Keewis, Pounded him as maize is pounded, Till his skull
was crushed to pieces.
And it fluttered, strove, and struggled, Waving hither, waving
thither, As the curtains of a wigwam Struggle with their thongs
of deer-skin, When the wintry wind is blowing; Till it drew
itself together, Till it rose up from the body, Till it took the
form and features Of the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis Vanishing into
To a lake with many islands Came the breathless
Pau-Puk-Keewis, Where among the water-lilies Pishnekuh, the
brant, were sailing; Through the tufts of rushes floating,
Steering through the reedy Islands. Now their broad black beaks
they lifted, Now they plunged beneath the water, Now they
darkened in the shadow, Now they brightened in the sunshine.
Straightway to a brant they changed him, With two huge and
dusky pinions, With a bosom smooth and rounded, With a bill like
two great paddles, Made him larger than the others, Ten times
larger than the largest, Just as, shouting from the forest, On
the shore stood Hiawatha.
Fast and far they fled to northward, Fast and far through mist
and sunshine, Fed among the moors and fen-lands, Slept among the
reeds and rushes.
For the people of the village Saw the flock of brant with
wonder, Saw the wings of Pau-Puk-Keewis Flapping far up in the
ether, Broader than two doorway curtains.
All in vain did Pau-Puk-Keewis Struggle to regain his balance!
Whirling round and round and downward, He beheld in turn the
village And in turn the flock above him, Saw the village coming
nearer, And the flock receding farther, Heard the voices growing
louder, Heard the shouting and the laughter; Saw no more the
flocks above him, Only saw the earth beneath him; Dead out of the
empty heaven, Dead among the shouting people, With a heavy sound
and sullen, Fell the brant with broken pinions.
And so near he came, so near him, That his hand was stretched
to seize him, His right hand to seize and hold him, When the
cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis Whirled and spun about in circles, Fanned
the air into a whirlwind, Danced the dust and leaves about him,
And amid the whirling eddies Sprang into a hollow oak-tree,
Changed himself into a serpent, Gliding out through root and
And the Old Man of the Mountain, He the Manito of Mountains,
Opened wide his rocky doorways, Opened wide his deep abysses,
Giving Pau-Puk-Keewis shelter In his caverns dark and dreary,
Bidding Pau-Puk-Keewis welcome To his gloomy lodge of
Then he raised his hands to heaven, Called imploring on the
tempest, Called Waywassimo, the lightning, And the thunder,
Annemeekee; And they came with night and darkness, Sweeping down
the Big-Sea-Water From the distant Thunder Mountains; And the
trembling Pau-Puk-Keewis Heard the footsteps of the thunder, Saw
the red eyes of the lightning, Was afraid, and crouched and
Ended were his wild adventures, Ended were his tricks and
gambols, Ended all his craft and cunning, Ended all his
mischief-making, All his gambling and his dancing, All his wooing
of the maidens.
And the name of Pau-Puk-Keewis Lingers still among the people,
Lingers still among the singers, And among the story-tellers; And
in Winter, when the snow-flakes Whirl in eddies round the lodges,
When the wind in gusty tumult O'er the smoke-flue pipes and
whistles, "There," they cry, "comes Pau-Puk-Keewis, He is dancing
through the village, He is gathering in his harvest!"
"If this hateful Kwasind," said they, "If this great,
outrageous fellow Goes on thus a little longer, Tearing
everything he touches, Rending everything to pieces, Filling all
the world with wonder, What becomes of the Puk-Wudjies? Who will
care for the Puk-Wudjies? He will tread us down like mushrooms,
Drive us all into the water, Give our bodies to be eaten By the
wicked Nee-ba-naw-baigs, By the Spirits of the water!
Now this wondrous strength of Kwasind In his crown alone was
seated; In his crown too was his weakness; There alone could he
be wounded, Nowhere else could weapon pierce him, Nowhere else
could weapon harm him.
So they gathered cones together, Gathered seed-cones of the
pine-tree, Gathered blue cones of the fir-tree, In the woods by
Taquamenaw, Brought them to the river's margin, Heaped them in
great piles together, Where the red rocks from the margin Jutting
overhang the river. There they lay in wait for Kwasind, The
malicious Little People.
Down the river came the Strong Man, In his birch canoe came
Kwasind, Floating slowly down the current Of the sluggish
Taquamenaw, Very languid with the weather, Very sleepy with the
To his ear there came a murmur As of waves upon a sea-shore,
As of far-off tumbling waters, As of winds among the pine-trees;
And he felt upon his forehead Blows of little airy war-clubs,
Wielded by the slumbrous legions Of the Spirit of Sleep,
Nepahwin, As of some one breathing on him.
So he floated down the river, Like a blind man seated upright,
Floated down the Taquamenaw, Underneath the trembling
birch-trees, Underneath the wooded headlands, Underneath the war
encampment Of the pygmies, the Puk-Wudjies.
And he sideways swayed and tumbled, Sideways fell into the
river, Plunged beneath the sluggish water Headlong, as an otter
plunges; And the birch canoe, abandoned, Drifted empty down the
river, Bottom upward swerved and drifted: Nothing more was seen
Never stoops the soaring vulture On his quarry in the desert,
On the sick or wounded bison, But another vulture, watching From
his high aerial look-out, Sees the downward plunge, and follows;
And a third pursues the second, Coming from the invisible ether,
First a speck, and then a vulture, Till the air is dark with
Now, o'er all the dreary North-land, Mighty Peboan, the
Winter, Breathing on the lakes and rivers, Into stone had changed
their waters. From his hair he shook the snow-flakes, Till the
plains were strewn with whiteness, One uninterrupted level, As
if, stooping, the Creator With his hand had smoothed them over.
Through the forest, wide and wailing, Roamed the hunter on his
snow-shoes; In the village worked the women, Pounded maize, or
dressed the deer-skin; And the young men played together On the
ice the noisy ball-play, On the plain the dance of
On their faces gleamed the firelight, Painting them with
streaks of crimson, In the eyes of old Nokomis Glimmered like the
watery moonlight, In the eyes of Laughing Water Glistened like
the sun in water; And behind them crouched their shadows In the
corners of the wigwam, And the smoke In wreaths above them
Climbed and crowded through the smoke-flue.
From their aspect and their garments, Strangers seemed they in
the village; Very pale and haggard were they, As they sat there
sad and silent, Trembling, cowering with the shadows.
Homeward now came Hiawatha From his hunting in the forest,
With the snow upon his tresses, And the red deer on his
shoulders. At the feet of Laughing Water Down he threw his
lifeless burden; Nobler, handsomer she thought him, Than when
first he came to woo her, First threw down the deer before her,
As a token of his wishes, As a promise of the future.
When the evening meal was ready, And the deer had been
divided, Both the pallid guests, the strangers, Springing from
among the shadows, Seized upon the choicest portions, Seized the
white fat of the roebuck, Set apart for Laughing Water, For the
wife of Hiawatha; Without asking, without thanking, Eagerly
devoured the morsels, Flitted back among the shadows In the
corner of the wigwam.
Many a daylight dawned and darkened, Many a night shook off
the daylight As the pine shakes off the snow-flakes From the
midnight of its branches; Day by day the guests unmoving Sat
there silent in the wigwam; But by night, in storm or starlight,
Forth they went into the forest, Bringing fire-wood to the
wigwam, Bringing pine-cones for the burning, Always sad and
Never once had Hiawatha By a word or look reproved them; Never
once had old Nokomis Made a gesture of impatience; Never once had
Laughing Water Shown resentment at the outrage. All had they
endured in silence, That the rights of guest and stranger, That
the virtue of free-giving, By a look might not be lessened, By a
word might not be broken.
From his couch rose Hiawatha, From his shaggy hides of bison,
Pushed aside the deer-skin curtain, Saw the pallid guests, the
shadows, Sitting upright on their couches, Weeping in the silent
Then the shadows ceased from weeping, Ceased from sobbing and
lamenting, And they said, with gentle voices: "We are ghosts of
the departed, Souls of those who once were with you. From the
realms of Chibiabos Hither have we come to try you, Hither have
we come to warn you.
"Think of this, O Hiawatha! Speak of it to all the people,
That henceforward and forever They no more with lamentations
Sadden the souls of the departed In the Islands of the
"Four days is the spirit's journey To the land of ghosts and
shadows, Four its lonely night encampments; Four times must their
fires be lighted. Therefore, when the dead are buried, Let a
fire, as night approaches, Four times on the grave be kindled,
That the soul upon its journey May not lack the cheerful
firelight, May not grope about in darkness.
When they ceased, a sudden darkness Fell and filled the silent
wigwam. Hiawatha heard a rustle As of garments trailing by him,
Heard the curtain of the doorway Lifted by a hand he saw not,
Felt the cold breath of the night air, For a moment saw the
starlight; But he saw the ghosts no longer, Saw no more the
wandering spirits From the kingdom of Ponemah, From the land of
Oh the famine and the fever! Oh the wasting of the famine! Oh
the blasting of the fever! Oh the wailing of the children! Oh the
anguish of the women!
Into Hiawatha's wigwam Came two other guests, as silent As the
ghosts were, and as gloomy, Waited not to be invited Did not
parley at the doorway Sat there without word of welcome In the
seat of Laughing Water; Looked with haggard eyes and hollow At
the face of Laughing Water.
And the lovely Minnehaha Shuddered as they looked upon her,
Shuddered at the words they uttered, Lay down on her bed in
silence, Hid her face, but made no answer; Lay there trembling,
freezing, burning At the looks they cast upon her, At the fearful
words they uttered.
Wrapped in furs and armed for hunting, With his mighty bow of
ash-tree, With his quiver full of arrows, With his mittens,
Minjekahwun, Into the vast and vacant forest On his snow-shoes
strode he forward.
Through the far-resounding forest, Through the forest vast and
vacant Rang that cry of desolation, But there came no other
answer Than the echo of his crying, Than the echo of the
woodlands, "Minnehaha! Minnehaha!"
In the wigwam with Nokomis, With those gloomy guests that
watched her, With the Famine and the Fever, She was lying, the
Beloved, She, the dying Minnehaha.
And the desolate Hiawatha, Far away amid the forest, Miles
away among the mountains, Heard that sudden cry of anguish, Heard
the voice of Minnehaha Calling to him in the darkness, "Hiawatha!
And he rushed into the wigwam, Saw the old Nokomis slowly
Rocking to and fro and moaning, Saw his lovely Minnehaha Lying
dead and cold before him, And his bursting heart within him
Uttered such a cry of anguish, That the forest moaned and
shuddered, That the very stars in heaven Shook and trembled with
With both hands his face he covered, Seven long days and
nights he sat there, As if in a swoon he sat there, Speechless,
motionless, unconscious Of the daylight or the darkness.
And at night a fire was lighted, On her grave four times was
kindled, For her soul upon its journey To the Islands of the
Blessed. From his doorway Hiawatha Saw it burning In the forest,
Lighting up the gloomy hemlocks; From his sleepless bed uprising,
From the bed of Minnehaha, Stood and watched it at the doorway,
That it might not be extinguished,
In his lodge beside a river, Close beside a frozen river, Sat
an old man, sad and lonely. White his hair was as a snow-drift;
Dull and low his fire was burning, And the old man shook and
trembled, Folded in his Waubewyon, In his tattered
white-skin-wrapper, Hearing nothing but the tempest As it roared
along the forest, Seeing nothing but the snow-storm, As it
whirled and hissed and drifted.
"Ah, my son!" exclaimed the old man, "Happy are my eyes to see
you. Sit here on the mat beside me, Sit here by the dying embers,
Let us pass the night together, Tell me of your strange
adventures, Of the lands where you have travelled; I will tell
you of my prowess, Of my many deeds of wonder."
And the young man answered, smiling: "When I blow my breath
about me, When I breathe upon the landscape, Flowers spring up
o'er all the meadows, Singing, onward rush the rivers!"
"When I shake my flowing ringlets," Said the young man, softly
laughing, "Showers of rain fall warm and welcome, Plants lift up
their heads rejoicing, Back Into their lakes and marshes Come the
wild goose and the heron, Homeward shoots the arrowy swallow,
Sing the bluebird and the robin, And where'er my footsteps
wander, All the meadows wave with blossoms, All the woodlands
ring with music, All the trees are dark with foliage!"
Then the old man's tongue was speechless And the air grew warm
and pleasant, And upon the wigwam sweetly Sang the bluebird and
the robin, And the stream began to murmur, And a scent of growing
grasses Through the lodge was gently wafted.
From his eyes the tears were flowing, As from melting lakes
the streamlets, And his body shrunk and dwindled As the shouting
sun ascended, Till into the air it faded, Till into the ground it
vanished, And the young man saw before him, On the hearth-stone
of the wigwam, Where the fire had smoked and smouldered, Saw the
earliest flower of Spring-time, Saw the Beauty of the
Spring-time, Saw the Miskodeed in blossom.
Sailing on the wind to northward, Flying in great flocks, like
arrows, Like huge arrows shot through heaven, Passed the swan,
the Mahnahbezee, Speaking almost as a man speaks; And in long
lines waving, bending Like a bow-string snapped asunder, Came the
white goose, Waw-be-wawa; And in pairs, or singly flying, Mahng
the loon, with clangorous pinions, The blue heron, the
Shuh-shuh-gah, And the grouse, the Mushkodasa.
From his wanderings far to eastward, From the regions of the
morning, From the shining land of Wabun, Homeward now returned
Iagoo, The great traveller, the great boaster, Full of new and
strange adventures, Marvels many and many wonders.
He had seen, he said, a water Bigger than the Big-Sea-Water,
Broader than the Gitche Gumee, Bitter so that none could drink
it! At each other looked the warriors, Looked the women at each
other, Smiled, and said, "It cannot be so!" Kaw!" they said, it
cannot be so!"
From its mouth, he said, to greet him, Came Waywassimo, the
lightning, Came the thunder, Annemeekee! And the warriors and the
women Laughed aloud at poor Iagoo; "Kaw!" they said, "what tales
you tell us!"
Only Hiawatha laughed not, But he gravely spake and answered
To their jeering and their jesting: "True is all Iagoo tells us;
I have seen it in a vision, Seen the great canoe with pinions,
Seen the people with white faces, Seen the coming of this bearded
People of the wooden vessel From the regions of the morning, From
the shining land of Wabun.
"Let us welcome, then, the strangers, Hail them as our friends
and brothers, And the heart's right hand of friendship Give them
when they come to see us. Gitche Manito, the Mighty, Said this to
me in my vision.
"Then a darker, drearier vision Passed before me, vague and
cloud-like; I beheld our nation scattered, All forgetful of my
counsels, Weakened, warring with each other: Saw the remnants of
our people Sweeping westward, wild and woful, Like the cloud-rack
of a tempest, Like the withered leaves of Autumn!"
Bright above him shone the heavens, Level spread the lake
before him; From its bosom leaped the sturgeon, Sparkling,
flashing in the sunshine; On its margin the great forest Stood
reflected in the water, Every tree-top had its shadow, Motionless
beneath the water.
Toward the sun his hands were lifted, Both the palms spread
out against it, And between the parted fingers Fell the sunshine
on his features, Flecked with light his naked shoulders, As it
falls and flecks an oak-tree Through the rifted leaves and
Was it Shingebis the diver? Or the pelican, the Shada? Or the
heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah? Or the white goose, Waw-be-wawa, With
the water dripping, flashing, From its glossy neck and
And the noble Hiawatha, With his hands aloft extended, Held
aloft in sign of welcome, Waited, full of exultation, Till the
birch canoe with paddles Grated on the shining pebbles, Stranded
on the sandy margin, Till the Black-Robe chief, the Pale-face,
With the cross upon his bosom, Landed on the sandy margin.
"Never bloomed the earth so gayly, Never shone the sun so
brightly, As to-day they shine and blossom When you come so far
to see us! Never was our lake so tranquil, Nor so free from
rocks, and sand-bars; For your birch canoe in passing Has removed
both rock and sand-bar.
And the Black-Robe chief made answer, Stammered In his speech
a little, Speaking words yet unfamiliar: "Peace be with you,
Hiawatha, Peace be with you and your people, Peace of prayer, and
peace of pardon, Peace of Christ, and joy of Mary!"
All the old men of the village, All the warriors of the
nation, All the Jossakeeds, the Prophets, The magicians, the
Wabenos, And the Medicine-men, the Medas, Came to bid the
strangers welcome; "It is well", they said, "O brothers, That you
come so far to see us!"
Then the Black-Robe chief, the Prophet, Told his message to
the people, Told the purport of his mission, Told them of the
Virgin Mary, And her blessed Son, the Saviour, How in distant
lands and ages He had lived on earth as we do; How he fasted,
prayed, and labored; How the Jews, the tribe accursed, Mocked
him, scourged him, crucified him; How he rose from where they
laid him, Walked again with his disciples, And ascended into
Then they rose up and departed Each one homeward to his
wigwam, To the young men and the women Told the story of the
strangers Whom the Master of Life had sent them From the shining
land of Wabun.
Slowly o'er the simmering landscape Fell the evening's dusk
and coolness, And the long and level sunbeams Shot their spears
into the forest, Breaking through its shields of shadow, Rushed
into each secret ambush, Searched each thicket, dingle, hollow;
Still the guests of Hiawatha Slumbered In the silent wigwam.
"I am going, O Nokomis, On a long and distant journey, To the
portals of the Sunset. To the regions of the home-wind, Of the
Northwest-Wind, Keewaydin. But these guests I leave behind me, In
your watch and ward I leave them; See that never harm comes near
them, See that never fear molests them, Never danger nor
suspicion, Never want of food or shelter, In the lodge of
I am going, O my people, On a long and distant journey; Many
moons and many winters Will have come, and will have vanished,
Ere I come again to see you. But my guests I leave behind me;
Listen to their words of wisdom, Listen to the truth they tell
you, For the Master of Life has sent them From the land of light
And the evening sun descending Set the clouds on fire with
redness, Burned the broad sky, like a prairie, Left upon the
level water One long track and trail of splendor, Down whose
stream, as down a river, Westward, westward Hiawatha Sailed into
the fiery sunset, Sailed into the purple vapors, Sailed into the
dusk of evening:
And they said, "Farewell forever!" Said, "Farewell, O
Hiawatha!" And the forests, dark and lonely, Moved through all
their depths of darkness, Sighed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!" And the
waves upon the margin Rising, rippling on the pebbles, Sobbed,
"Farewell, O Hiawatha!" And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, From
her haunts among the fen-lands, Screamed, "Farewell, O
Ahdeek', the reindeer
Annemee'kee, the thunder
Baim-wa'wa, the sound of the thunder
Chemaun', a birch canoe
Chibia'bos, a musician; friend of Hiawatha; ruler of the Land
Dush-kwo-ne'-she or Kwo-ne'-she, the dragon fly
Gitche Man'ito, the Great Spirit, the Master of Life
Hiawa'tha, the Prophet. the Teacher, son of Mudjekeewis, the
West-Wind and Wenonah, daughter of Nokomis
Inin'ewug, men, or pawns in the Game of the Bowl
Jee'bi, a ghost, a spirit
Kabibonok'ka, the North-Wind
Kahgahgee', the raven
Kaween', no indeed
Kee'go, a fish
Kena'beek, a serpent
Keno'zha, the pickerel
Kuntasoo', the Game of Plumstones
Kwo-ne'-she, or Dush-kwo-ne'-she, the dragon-fly
Mahng, the loon
Ma'ma, the woodpecker
Meenah'ga, the blueberry
Meshinau'wa, a pipe-bearer
Minneha'ha, Laughing Water; wife of Hiawatha; a water-fall in
a stream running into the Mississippi between Fort Snelling and
the Falls of St. Anthony
Mishe-Mo'kwa, the Great Bear
Miskodeed', the Spring-Beauty, the Claytonia Virginica
Moon of Bright Nights, April
Moon of Strawberries, June
Moon of Snow-shoes, November
Mudway-aush'ka, sound of waves on a shore
Nah'ma, the sturgeon
Na'gow Wudj'oo, the Sand Dunes of Lake Superior
Noko'mis, a grandmother, mother of Wenonah
Nush'ka, look! look!
Okahha'wis, the fresh-water herring
Ona'gon, a bowl
Osse'o, Son of the Evening Star
Oweenee', wife of Osseo
Pah-puk-kee'na, the grasshopper
Pau-Puk-Kee'wis, the handsome Yenadizze, the son of Storm
Pem'ican, meat of the deer or buffalo dried and pounded
Pishnekuh', the brant
Puggawau'gun, a war-club
Sha'da, the pelican
Shah-shah, long ago
Shawgashee', the craw-fish
Shaw-shaw, the swallow
Shin'gebis, the diver, or grebe
Shuh-shuh-gah', the blue heron
Subbeka'she, the spider
To'tem, family coat-of-arms
Ugudwash', the sun-fish
Wabas'so, the rabbit, the North
Wa'bun An'nung, the Star of the East, the Morning Star
Wah-wah-tay'see, the fire-fly
Wa'wa, the wild goose
Wawonais'sa, the whippoorwill
Weno'nah, the eldest daughter; Hiawatha's mother, daughter of