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On the right a point for sunset,
On the top a point for noon-tide,
And for rain and cloudy weather
Waving lines descending from it.
Footprints pointing towards a wigwam
Were a sign of invitation,
Were a sign of guests assembling;
Bloody hands with palms uplifted
Were a symbol of destruction,
Were a hostile sign and symbol.
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 they painted on the grave-posts
Of the graves yet unforgotten,
Each his own ancestral Totem,
Each the symbol of his household;
Figures of the Bear and Reindeer,
Of the Turtle, Crane, and Beaver,
Each inverted as a token
That the owner was departed,
That the chief who bore the symbol
Lay beneath in dust and ashes.
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 suggested.
The Great Spirit, the Creator, Flashing light through all the heaven; The Great Serpent, the Kenabeek, With his bloody crest erected, Creeping, looking into heaven; In the sky the sun, that listens, And the moon eclipsed and dying;, Owl and eagle, crane and hen-hawk, And the cormorant, bird of magic; Headless men, that walk the heavens, Bodies lying pierced with arrows, Bloody hands of death uplifted, Flags on graves, and great war-captains Grasping both the earth and heaven!
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.
Nor forgotten was the Love-Song,
The most subtle of all medicines,
The most potent spell of magic,
Dangerous more than war or hunting!
Thus the Love Song was recorded,
Symbol and interpretation.
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 figure seated, singing,
Playing on a drum of magic,
And the interpretation, “ Listen!
'T is my voice you hear, my singing!"
Then the same red figure seated
In the shelter of a wigwam,
And the meaning of the symbol,
« 1 will come and sit beside you In the mystery of my passion !”
Then two figures, man and woman,
Standing hand in hand together,
With their hands so clasped together
That they seem in one united,
And the words thus represented
Are, “I see your heart within you,
And your cheeks are red with blushes ! "
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!”
Then the figure of the maiden
Sleeping, and the lover near her,
Whispering to her in her slumbers,
Saying, “ Though you were far from me
In the land of Sleep and Silence,
Still the voice of love would reach you!"
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 whisper!”
Thus it was that Hiawatha,
In his wisdom, taught the people
All the mysteries of painting,
All the art of Picture-Writing,
On the smooth bark of the birch-tree,
On the white skin of the reindeer,
On the grave-posts of the village.
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 them.
Hiawatha, wise and wary,
Often said to Chibiabos,
brother! do not leave me,
Lest the Evil Spirits harm you!”
Chibiabos, young and heedless,
Laughing shook his coal-black tresses,
Answered ever sweet and childlike,
“ Do not fear for me, O brother !
Harm and evil come not near me!”
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.
Right across the Big-Sea-Water Sprang with speed the deer before him. With the wind and snow he followed, the treacherous ice he followed,
Wild with all the fierce commotion
And the rapture of the hunting.
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.
From the headlands Hiawatha Sent forth such a wail of anguish, Such a fearful lamentation, That the bison paused to listen, And the wolves howled from the prairies, And the thunder in the distance Starting answered “ Baim-wawa!
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 :-
“He is dead, the sweet musician!
He the sweetest of all singers !
He has gone from us forever,
He has moved a little nearer
To the Master of all music,
Tc the Master of all singing!
O my brother, Chibiabos!
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, their lamenting.
Came the Spring, and all the forest
Looked in vain for Chibiabos ;
Sighed the rivulet, Sebowisha,
Sighed the rushes in the meadow.