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Eyes that smiled and frowned alternate,
Was it then for heads of arrows,
Was it not to see the maiden, See the face of Laughing Water, Peeping from behind the curtain, Hear the rustling of her garments From behind the waving curtain, As one sees the Minnehaha Gleaming, glancing through the branches, As one hears the Laughing Water From behind its screen of branches?
Who shall say what thoughts and visions Fill the fiery brains of young men? Who shall say what dreams of beauty Filled the heart of Hiawatha?
All he told to old Nokomis,
You shall hear how Hiawatha
First he built a lodge for fasting,
On the first day of his fasting
Master of Life!" he cried, desponding, "Must our lives depend on these things?" On the third day of his fasting
By the lake he sat and pondered,
In his lodge he lay exhausted;
And he saw a youth approaching, Dressed in garments green and yellow Coming through the purple twilight, Through the splendor of the sunset; Plumes of green bent o'er his forehead, And his hair was soft and golden.
Standing at the open doorway, Long he looked at Hiawatha, Looked with pity and compassion On his wasted form and features, And, in accents like the sighing Of the South-Wind in the tree-tops, Said he, "O my Hiawatha! All your prayers are heard in heaven, For you pray not like the others; Not for greater skill in hunting, Not for greater craft in fishing, Not for triumph in the battle, Nor renown among the warriors, But for profit of the people, For advantage of the nations.
"From the Master of Life descending,
And the more they strove and struggled,
Gave a scream of pain and famine.
"Tis enough! then said Mondamin, Smiling upon Hiawatha, "But to-morrow, when the sun sets, I will come again to try you." And he vanished, and was seen not; Whether sinking as the rain sinks, Whether rising as the mists rise, Hiawatha saw not, knew not, Only saw that he had vanished, Leaving him alone and fainting, With the misty lake below him, And the reeling stars above him.
On the morrow and the next day, When the sun through heaven descending Like a red and burning cinder From the hearth of the Great Spirit Fell into the western waters,
Came Mondamin for the trial,
In its coming and its going.
Thrice they wrestled there together In the glory of the sunset, Till the darkness fell around them, Till the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, From her nest among the pine-trees, Uttered her loud cry of famine, And Mondamin paused to listen.
Tall and beautiful he stood there, In his garments green and yellow; To and fro his plumes above him Waved and nodded with his breathing, And the sweat of the encounter Stood like drops of dew upon him.
And he cried, "O Hiawatha ! Bravely have you wrestled with me, Thrice have wrestled stoutly with me, And the Master of Life, who see us, He will give to you the triumph! Then he smiled, and said: Is the last day of your conflict, Is the last day of your fasting. You will conquer and o'ercome me; Make a bed for me to lie in, Where the rain may fall upon me, Where the sun may come and warm me; Strip these garments, green and yellow, Strip this nodding plumage from me, Lay me in the earth, and make it Soft and loose and light above me.
"Let no hand disturb my slumber, Let no weed nor worm molest me, Let not Kahgahgee, the raven, Come, to haunt me and molest me, Only come yourself to watch me, Till I wake, and start, and quicken, Till I leap into the sunshine."
And thus saying, he departed;
On the morrow came Nokomis,
But he tasted not, and touched not,
Homeward weeping went Nokomis,
As a red leaf in the Autumn Falls and floats upon the water, Falls and sinks into its bosom.
And behold! the young Mondamin, With his soft and shining tresses, With his garments green and yellow, With his long and glossy plumage, Stood and beckoned at the doorway. And as one in slumber walking, Pale and haggard, but undaunted, From the wigwam Hiawatha Came and wrestled with Mondamin. Round about him spun the landscape, Sky and forest reeled together, And his strong heart leaped within him, As the sturgeon leaps and struggles In a net to break its meshes. Like a ring of fire around him Blazed and flared the red horizon, And a hundred suns seemed looking At the combat of the wrestlers.
Suddenly upon the greensward All alone stood Hiawatha, Panting with his wild exertion, Palpitating with the struggle; And before him breathless, lifeless, Lay the youth, with hair dishevelled, Plumage torn, and garments tattered, Dead he lay there in the sunset. And victorious Hiawatha Made the grave as he commanded, Stripped the garments from Mondamin, Stripped his tattered plumage from him, Laid him in the earth, and made it Soft and loose and light above him; And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, From the melancholy moorlands, Gave a cry of lamentation, Gave a cry of pain and anguish!/
Homeward then went Hiawatha To the lodge of old Nokomis, And the seven days of his fasting Were accomplished and completed. But the place was not forgotten Where he wrestled with Mondamin; Nor forgotten nor neglected Was the grave where lay Mondamin, Sleeping in the rain and sunshine, Where his scattered plumes and garments Faded in the rain and sunshine.
Day by day did Hiawatha Go to wait and watch beside it; Kept the dark mould soft above it, Kept it clean from weeds and insects, Drove away, with scoffs and shoutings, Kahgahgee, the king of ravens.
Till at length a small green feather From the earth shot slowly upward, Then another and another,
And before the Summer ended
And still later, when the Autumn Changed the long, green leaves to yellow, And the soft and juicy kernels Grew like wampum hard and yellow, Then the ripened ears he gathered, Stripped the withered husks from off them, As he once had stripped the wrestler, Gave the first Feast of Mondamin,
And made known unto the people This new gift of the Great Spirit.
Two good friends had Hiawatha,
And the very strong man, Kwasind.
Straight between them ran the pathway,
Could not breed ill-will between them
Most beloved by Hiawatha
When he sang the village.listened;
From the hollow reeds he fashioned Flutes so musical and mellow, That the brook, the Sebowisha, Ceased to murmur in the woodland, That the wood birds ceased from singing, And the squirrel, Adjidaumo, Ceased his chatter in the oak-tree, And the rabbit, the Wabasso, Sat upright to look and listen.
Yes, the brook, the Sebowisha,
Yes, the blue-bird, the Owaissa,
Yes, the robin, the Opechee,
And the whippoorwill, Wawonaissa,
All the many sounds of nature Borrowed sweetness from his singing; All the hearts of men were softened By the pathos of his music; For he sang of peace and freedom, Sang of beauty, love, and longing; Sang of death, and life undying In the Islands of the Blessed, In the kingdom of Ponemah, In the land of the Hereafter.
Very dear to Hiawatha Was the gentle Chibiabos, He the best of all musicians, He the sweetest of all singers; For his gentleness he loved him, And the magic of his singing. Dear, too, unto Hiawatha Was the very strong man, Kwasind, He the strongest of all mortals,
He the mightiest among many;
Slowly, from the ashes, Kwasind Rose, but made no angry answer; From the lodge went forth in silence, Took the nets, that hung together, Dripping, freezing at the doorway, Like a wisp of straw he wrung them, Like a wisp of straw he broke them, Could not wring them without breaking, Such the strength was in his fingers.
"Lazy Kwasind!" said his father, "In the hut you never help me; Every bow you touch is broken, Snapped asunder every arrow; Yet come with me to the forest, You shall bring the hunting homeward." Down a narrow pass they wandered, Where a brooklet led them onward, Where the trail of deer and bison Marked the soft mud on the margin, Till they found all further passage Shut against them, barred securely By the trunks of trees uprooted, Lying lengthwise, lying crosswise, And forbidding further passage.
We must go back," said the old man, O'er these logs we cannot clamber; Not a woodchuck could get through them, Not a squirrel clamber o'er them!" And straightway his pipe he lighted, And sat down to smoke and ponder. But before his pipe was finished, Lo the path was cleared before him; All the trunks had Kwasind lifted, To the right hand, to the left hand, Shot the pine-trees swift as arrows, Hurled the cedars light as lances.
Lazy Kwasind!" said the young men, As they sported in the meadow: "Why stand idly looking at us, Leaning on the rock behind you? Come and wrestle with the others, Let us pitch the quoit together!
Lazy Kwasind made no answer, To their challenge made no answer, Only rose, and slowly turning, Seized the huge rock in his fingers, Tore it from its deep foundation, Poised it in the air a moment, Pitched it sheer into the river, Sheer into the swift Pauwating, Where it still is seen in Summer.
Once as down that foaming river, Down the rapids of Pauwating, Kwasind sailed with his companions, In the stream he saw a beaver Saw Ahmeek, the King of Beavers, Struggling with the rushing currents,
Rising, sinking in the water.
Without speaking, without pausing,
Cried, "Alas! good-by to Kwasind!
And these two, as I have told you,
"GIVE me of your bark, O Birch-Tree!
Lay aside your cloak, O Birch-Tree!
By the rushing Taquamenaw,
And the tree with all its branches
With his knife the tree he girdled;
"Give me of your boughs, O Cedar!
Down he hewed the boughs of cedar, Shaped them straightway to a framework, Like two bows he formed and shaped them, L ke two bended bows together.
"Give me of your roots, O Tamarack! Of your fibrous roots, O Larch-Tree! My canoe to bind together,
So to bind the ends together
And the Larch, with all its fibres,
From the earth he tore the fibres,
'Give me of your balm, O Fir-Tree! Of your balsam and your resin, So to close the seams together That the water may not enter, That the river may not wet me!"
And the Fir-Tree, tall and sombre, Sobbed through all its robes of darkness, Rattled like a shore with pebbles, Answered wailing, answered weeping, "Take my balm, O Hiawatha!
And he took the tears of balsam, Took the resin of the Fir-Tree, Smeared therewith each seam and fissure, Made each crevice safe from water.
"Give me of your quills, O Hedgehog! All your quills, O Kagh, the Hedgehog! I will make a necklace of them, Make a girdle for my beauty, And two stars to deck her be som!
From a hollow tree the Hedgehog With his sleepy eyes looked at him, Shot his shining quills, like arrows, Saying, with a drowsy murmur, Through the tangle of his whiskers, "Take my quills, O Hiawatha!"
From the ground the quills he gathered, All the little shining arrows, Stained them red and blue and yellow, With the juice of roots and berries; Into his canoe he wrought them, Round its waist a shining girdle, Round its bows a gleaming necklace, On its breast two stars resplendent.
Thus the Birch Canoe was builded
Paddles none had Hiawatha,
Then he called aloud to Kwasind,
And thus sailed my Hiawatha
Up and down the river went they,
Dragged the dead trees from its channel,
FORTH upon the Gitche Gumee,
In his fur the breeze of morning
On the white sand of the bottom
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,
In his birch canoe exulting
Through the clear, transparent water
As above him Hiawatha
"Take my bait," cried Hiawatha,