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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 blue-bird, 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
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 twilights
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 !”
the ferns and mosses, There
among the prairie lilies,
On the Muskoday, the meadow,
In the moonlight and the starlight,
bore a daughter.
And she called her name Wenonah,
As the first-born of her daughters.
And the daughter of Nokomis
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,
• O, 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;
« O that I were dead !” she murmured,
“ O that I were dead, as thou art !
No more work, and no more weeping,
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 get thee !"
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
Ewa-year my little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam ?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam ?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!”
Many things Nokomis taught him
Of the stars that shine in heaven;
Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet,
Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses ;
Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits,
Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs,
Flaring far away to northward
In the frosty nights of Winter ;
Showed the broad, white road in heaven,
Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows,
Running straight across the heavens,
Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.
At the door on summer evenings Sat the little Hiawatha ; Heard the whispering of the pine-trees, Heard the lapping of the water, Sounds of music, words of wonder; 5. 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: