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Sang and shouted at his coming, Still his heart was sad within him, For he was alone in heaven.
But one morning, gazing earthward, While the village still was sleeping, And the fog lay on the river, Like a ghost, that goes at sunrise, He beheld a maiden walking All alone upon a meadow, Gathering water-flags and rushes By a river in the meadow.
Every morning, gazing earthward, Still the first thing he beheld there Was her blue eyes looking at him, Two blue lakes among the rushes. And he loved the lonely maiden, Who thus waited for his coming; For they were both solitary, She on earth and he in heaven.
And he wooed her with caresses, Wooed her with his smile of sunshine, With his flattering words he wooed her, With his sighing and his singing, Gentlest whispers in the branches, Softest music, sweetest odors, Till he drew her to his bosom, Folded in his robes of crimson, Till into a star he changed her, Trembling still upon his bosom; And forever in the heavens They are seen together walking, Wabun aid the Wabun-Annung, Wabun and the Star of Morning.
But the fierce Kabibonokka Has his dwelling among icebergs, In the everlasting snow-drifts, In the kingdom of Wabasso, In the land of the White Rabbit. He it was whose hand in Autumn Painted all the trees with scarlet, Stained the leaves with red and yellow; He it was who sent the snow-flakes, Sifting, hissing through the forest, Froze the ponds, the lakes, the rivers, Drove the loon and sea-gull southward, Drove the cormorant and curlew To their nests of sedge and sea-tang In the realms of Shawondasee.
Once the fierce Kabibonokka Issued from his lodge of snow-drifts, From his home among the icebergs, And his hair, with snow besprinkled, Streamed behind him like a river, Like a black and wintry river, As he howled and hurried southward, Over frozen lakes and moorlands.
There among the reeds and rushes Found he Shingebis, the diver, Trailing strings of fish behind him, O'er the frozen fens and moorlands, Lingering still among the moorlands, Though his tribe had long departed To the land of Shawondasee.
Cried the fierce Kabibonokka,
"Who is this that dares to brave me?
Dares to stay in my dominions,
When the Wawa has departed,
When the wild-goose has gone southward,
And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Long ago departed southward ?
1 will go into his wigwam,
I will put his smouldering fire out!"
And at night Kabibonokka
To the lodge came wild an i wailing,
Heaped the snow in drifts about it,
Shouted down into the smoke-flue,
Shook the lodge-poles in his fury,
Flapped the curtain of the door-way.
Shingebis, the diver, feared not,
Shingebis, the diver, cared not;
Four great logs had he for firewood,
One for each moon of the winter,
And for food the fishes served him.
By his blazing fire he sat there,
Warm and merry, eating, laughing,
Singing, "O Kabibonokka,
You are but my fellow-mortal!
Then Kabibonokka entered,
And though Shingebis, the diver,
Felt his presence by the coldness,
Felt his icy breath upon him,
Still he did not cease his singing,
Still he did not leave his laughing,
Only turned the log a little,
Only made the fire burn brighter,
Made the sparks fly up the smoke-flue.
From Kabibonokka's forehead,
From his snow-besprinkled tresses,
Drops of sweat fell fast and heavy,
Making dints upon the ashes,
As along the eaves of lodges,
As from drooping boughs of hemlock,
Drips the melting snow in spring-time,
Making hollows in the snow-drifts.
Till at last he rose defeated,
Could not bear the heat and laughter,
Could not bear the merry singing,
But rushed headlong through the doorway,
Stamped upon the crusted snow-drifts,
Stamped upon the lakes and rivers,
Made the snow upon them harder,
Made the ice upon them thicker,
Challenged Shingebis, the diver,
To come forth and wrestle with him,
To come forth and wrestle naked
On the frozen fens and moorlands.
Forth went Shingebis, the diver, Wrestled all night with the Night-Wind, Wrestled naked on the moorlands With the fierce Kabibonokka, Till his panting breath grew fainter, Till his frozen grasp grew feebler, Till he reeled and staggered backward, And retreated, baffled, beaten, To the kingdom of Wabasso, To the land of the White Rabbit, Hearing still the gusty laughter, Hearing Shingebis, the diver, Singing, "O Kabibonokka, You are but my fellow-mortal!" Shawondasee, fat and lazy, Had his dwelling far to southward, In the drowsy, dreamy sunshine, In the never-ending Suminer. He it was who sent the wood-birds, Sent the robin, the Opechee, Sent the bluebird, the Owaissa, Sent the Shawshaw, sent the swallow, Sent the wild-goose, Wawa, northward, Sent the melons and tobacco, And the grapes in purple clusters.
From his pipe the smoke ascen ling 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 bad 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 Northland, 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 Northland!" 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, delude 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 corner of the heavens ; For himself the West-Wind only Kept the mighty Mudjekeewis.
DOWNWARD through the evening twilight,
In the days that are forgotten,
In the unremembered ages,
From the full moon fell Nokomis,
Fell the beautiful Nokomis,
She a wife, but not a mother.
She was sporting with her women
Swinging in a swing of grape-vines,
When her rival, the rejected,
Full of jealousy and hatred,
Cut the leafy swing asunder,
Cut in twain the twisted grape-vines,
And Nokomis fell affrighted
Downward through the evening twilight,
On the Muskoday, the meadow,
On the prairie full of blossoms.
"See! à star falls!" said the people;
"From the sky a star is falling!"
There among the ferns and mosses, There among the prairie lilies, On the Muskodday, the meadow, In the moonlight and the starlight, Fair Nokomis bore a daughter. And she called her name Wenonah, As the first-born of her daughters. And the daughter of Nokomis Grew up like the prairie lilies, Grew a tall and slender maiden,
With the beauty of the moonlight,
With the beauty of the starlight.
And Nokomis warned her often,
Saying oft, and oft repeating,
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, Wahonowin! Wahonowin!"
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
There the wrinkled, old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
"Hush the Naked Bear will hear thee!"
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
"Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"
Many things Nokomis taught him
Of the stars that shine in heaven;
Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet,
Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses;
Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits,
Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs,
Flaring far away to northward
In the frosty nights of Winter;
Showed the broad, white road in heaven,
Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows,
Running straight across the heavens,
Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.
At the door on summer evenings
Sat the little Hiawatha;
Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
Heard the lapping of the water,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
· Minne-wawa!" said the pine-trees, "Mudway-aushka!" said the water.
Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-tay see, Flitting through the dusk of evening, With the twinkle of its candle Lighting up the brakes and bushes, And he sang the song of children,
Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
"Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
Little, flitting, white-fire insect,
Little, dancing, white-fire creature,
Light me with your little candle,
Ere upon my bed I lay me,
Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!"
Saw the moon rise from the water
Rippling, rounding from the water,
Saw the flecks and shadows on it,
Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
"Once a warrior, very angry,
Seized his grandmother, and threw her
Up into the sky at midnight;
Right against the moon he threw her;
"T is her body that you see there."
Saw the rainbow in the heaven,
In the eastern sky, the rainbow,
Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
""T is the heaven of flowers you see there;
All the wild-flowers of the forest,
All the lilies of the prairie,
When on earth they fade and perish, Blossom in that heaven above us.'
When he heard the owls at midnight, Hooting, laughing in the forest, "What is that? he cried in terror; "What is that?" he said, "Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered: "That is but the owl and owlet, Talking in their native language, Talking, scolding at each other."
Then the little Hiawatha Learned of every bird its language, Learned their names and all their secrets, How they built their nests in Summer,
Hidden in the alder-bushes,
There he waited till the deer came,
Till he saw two antlers lifted,
Saw two eyes look from the thicket,
Saw two nostrils point to windward,
And a deer came down the pathway,
Flecked with leafy light and shadow.
And his heart within him fluttered,
Trembled like the leaves above him,
Like the birch-leaf palpitated,
As the deer came down the pathway.
Then, upon one knee uprising,
Hiawatha aimed an arrow;
Scarce a twig moved with his motion,
Searce a leaf was stirred or rustled,
But the wary roeback started,
Stamped with all his hoofs together,
Listened with one foot uplifted,
Leaped as if to meet the arrow;
Ah the stinging, fatal arrow,
Like a wasp it buzzed and stung him!
Dead he lay there in the forest,
By the ford across the river;
Beat his timid heart no longer,
But the heart of Hiawatha
Throbbed and shouted and exulted,
As he bore the red deer homeward,
And Iagoo and Nokomis
Hailed his coming with applauses.
From the red deer's hide Nokomis
Made a cloak for Hiawatha,
From the red deer's flesh Nokomis
Made a banquet in his honor.
All the village came and feasted,
All the guests praised Hiawatha,
Called him Strong-Heart, Soan-ge-taha!
Called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-go-tay see!
Much he questioned old Nokomis
Of his father Mudjekeewis;
Learned from her the fatal secret
Of the beauty of his mother,
Of the falsehood of his father;
And his heart was hot within him,
Like a living coal his heart was.
Then he said to old Nokomis,
"I will go to Mudjekeewis,
See how fares it with my father,
At the doorways of the West-Wind,
At the portals of the Sunset!"
From his lodge went Hiawatha,
Dressed for travel, armed for hunting;
Dressed in deer-skin shirt and leggings,
Richly wrought with quills and wampum;
On his head his eagle-feathers,
Round his waist his belt of wampum,
In his hand his bow of ash-wood,
Strung with sinews of the reindeer;
In his quiver oaken arrows,
Tipped with jasper, winged with feathers;
With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
With his moccasins enchanted.
Warning said the old Nokomis,
"Go not forth, O Hiawatha !
To the kingdom of the West-Wind,
To the realms of Mudjekeewis,
Lest he harm you with his magic,
Lest he kill you with his cunning!"
But the fearless Hiawatha
Heeded not her woman's warning;
Forth he strode into the forest,
At each stride a mile he measured;
Lurid seemed the sky above him,
Lurid seemed the earth beneath him,
Hot and close the air around him,
Filled with smoke and fiery vapors,
As of burning woods and prairies,
For his heart was hot within him,
Like a living coal his heart was.
So he journeyed westward, westward,
Left the fleetest deer behind him,
Left the antelope and bison;
Crossed the rushing Esconaba,
Crossed the mighty Mississippi,
Passed the Mountains of the Prairie,
Passed the land of Crows and Foxes,
Passed the dwellings of the Blackfeet,
Came unto the Rocky Mountains,
To the kingdom of the West-Wind,
Where upon the gusty summits
Sat the ancient Mudjekeewis,
Ruler of the winds of heaven.
Filled with awe was Hiawatha At the aspect of his father. On the air about him wildly Tossed and streamed his cloudy tresses, Gleamed like drifting snow his tresses, Glared like Ishkoodah, the comet, Like the star with fiery tresses.
Filled with joy was Mudjekeewis When he looked on Hiawatha, Saw his youth rise up before him In the face of Hiawatha, Saw the beauty of Wenonah From the grave rise up before him. "Welcome!" said he, "Hiawatha, To the kingdom of the West-Wind! Long have I been waiting for you! Youth is lovely, age is lonely, Youth is fiery, age is frosty; You bring back the days departed, You bring back my youth of passion, And the beautiful Wenonah !"
Many days they talked together, Questioned, listened, waited, answered; Much the mighty Mudjekeewis Boasted of his ancient prowess, Of his perilous adventures. His indomitable courage,
His invulnerable body.
Patiently sat Hiawatha,
Listening to his father's boasting;
With a smile he sat and listened,
Uttered neither threat nor menace,
Neither word nor look betrayed him,
But his heart was hot within him,
Like a living coal his heart was.
Then he said, "O Mudjekeewis,
Is there nothing that can harm you?
Nothing that you are afraid of?"
And the mighty Mudjekeewis,
Grand and gracious in his boasting,
Answered, saying, "There is nothing,
Nothing but the black rock yonder,
Nothing but the fatal Wawbeek!""
And he looked at Hiawatha
With a wise look and benignant,
With a countenance paternal,
Looked with pride upon the beauty
Of his tall and graceful figure,
Saying, "O my Hiawatha!
Is there anything can harm you?
Anything you are afraid of?"
But the wary Hiawatha
Paused awhile, as if uncertain,
Held his peace, as if resolving,
And then answered, "There is nothing,
Nothing but the bulrush yonder,
Nothing but the great Apukwa!"
And as Mudjekeewis, rising,
Stretched his hand to pluck the bulrush,
Hiawatha cried in terror,
Cried in well-dissembled terror,
Kago! kago! do not touch it!" "Ah, kaween!" said Mudjekeewis, "No, indeed, I will not touch it!
Then they talked of other matters; First of Hiawatha's brothers, First of Wabun, of the East-Wind, Of the South-Wind, Shawondasee, Of the North, Kabibonokka; Then of Hiawatha's mother, Of the beautiful Wenonah, Of her birth upon the meadow, Of her death, as old Nokomis Had remembered and related.
And he cried, "O Mudjekeewis, It was you who killed Wenonah, Took her young life and her beauty, Broke the Lily of the Prairie, Trampled it beneath your footsteps; You confess it! you confess it!" And the mighty Mudjekeewis Tossed upon the wind his tresses, Bowed his hoary head in anguish, With a silent nod assented.
Then up started Hiawatha, And with threatening look and gesture Laid his hand upon the black rock, On the fatal Wawbeek laid it, With his mittens, Minjekahwun, Rent the jutting crag asunder, Smote and crushed it into fragments, Hurled them madly at his father, The remorseful Mudjekeewis, For his heart was hot within him, Like a living coal his heart was.
But the ruler of the West-Wind Blew the fragments backward from him, With the breathing of his nostrils, With the tempest of his anger, Blew them back at his assailant; Seized the bulrush, the Apukwa, Dragged it with its roots and fibres From the margin of the meadow, From its ooze, the giant bulrush; Long and loud laughed Hiawatha!
Then began the deadly conflict, Hand to hand among the mountains; From his eyrie screamed the eagle,
The Keneu, the great war-eagle
Sat upon the crags around them,
Wheeling flapped his wings above them.
Like a tall tree in the tempest
Bent and lashed the giant bulrush;
And in masses huge and heavy
Crashing fell the fatal Wawbeek;
Till the earth shook with the tumult
And confusion of the battle,
And the air was full of shoutings,
And the thunder of the mountains,
Starting, answered, "Baim-wawa!
Back retreated Mudjekeewis,
Rushing westward o'er the mountains,
Stumbling westward down the mountains,
Three whole days retreated fighting,
Still pursued by Hiawatha
To the doorways of the West-Wind,
To the portals of the Sunset,
To the earth's remotest border,
Where into the empty spaces
Sinks the sun, as a flamingo
Drops into her nest at nightfall,
In the melancholy marshes
"Hold!" at length cried Mudjekeewis,
"Hold, my son, my Hiawatha !
"Tis impossible to kill me,
For you cannot kill the immortal.
I have put you to this trial,
But to know and prove your courage;
Now receive the prize of valor!
"Go back to your home and people, Live among them, toil among them, Cleanse the earth from all that harms it, Clear the fishing-grounds and rivers, Slay all monsters and magicians, All the Wendigoes, the giants, All the serpents, the Kenabecks, As I slew the Mishe-Mokwa,
Slew the Great Bear of the mountains.
And at last when Death draws near you,
When the awful eyes of Panguk
Glare upon you in the darkness,
I will share my kingdom with you,
Ruler shall you be thenceforward
Of the Northwest-wind, Keewaydin,
Of the home-wind, the Keewaydin.'
Thus was fought that famous battle
In the dreadful days of Shah-shah,
In the days long since departed,
In the kingdom of the West-Wind.
Still the hunter sees its traces
Scattered far c'er hill and valley;
Sees the giant bulrush growing
By the ponds and water-courses,
Sees the masses of the Wawbeek
Lying still in every valley.
Homeward now went Hiawatha;
Pleasant was the landscape round him,
Pleasant was the air above him,
For the bitterness of anger
Had departed wholly from him,
From his brain the thought of vengeance,
From his heart the burning fever.
Only once his pace he slackened,
Only once he paused or halted,
Paused to purchase heads of arrows
Of the ancient Arrow-maker,
In the land of the Dacotahs,
Where the Falls of Minnehaha
Flash and gleam among the oak-trees,
Laugh and leap into the valley.
There the ancient Arrow-inaker
Made his arrow-heads of sandstone,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony,
Arrow-heads of flint and jasper,
Smoothed and sharpened at the edges,
Hard and polished, keen and costly.
With him dwelt his dark-eyed daughter,
Wayward as the Minnehaha,"
With her moods of shade and sunshine,