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1855

HIAWATHA'S DEPARTURE

(From The Song of Hiawatha)

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

HIAWATHA'S DEPARTURE -

BY the shore of Gitche Gumee

By the shining Big-Sea-Water

At the doorway of his wigwam

In the pleasant Summer morning

Hiawatha stood and waited.

All the air was full of freshness

All the earth was bright and joyous

And before himthrough the sunshine

Westward toward the neighboring forest

Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo

Passed the beesthe honey-makers

Burningsinging in the sunshine.

Bright above him shone the heavens

Level spread the lake before him;

From its bosom leaped the sturgeon

Sparklingflashing in the sunshine;

On its margin the great forest

Stood reflected in the water

Every tree-top had its shadow

Motionless beneath the water.

From the brow of Hiawatha

Gone was every trace of sorrow

As the fog from off the water

As the mist from off the meadow.

With a smile of joy and triumph

With a look of exultation

As of one who in a vision

Sees what is to bebut is not

Stood and waited Hiawatha.

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 branches.

O'er the water floatingflying

Something in the hazy distance

Something in the mists of morning

Loomed and lifted from the water

Now seemed floatingnow seemed flying

Coming nearernearernearer.

Was it Shingebis the diver?

Or the pelicanthe Shada?

Or the heronthe Shuh-shuh-gah?

Or the white gooseWaw-be-wawa

With the water drippingflashing

From its glossy neck and feathers?

It was neither goose nor diver

Neither pelican nor heron

O'er the water floatingflying

Through the shining mist of morning

But a birch canoe with paddles

Risingsinking on the water

Drippingflashing in the sunshine;

And within it came a people

Form the distant land of Wabun

From the farthest realms of morning

Came the Black-Robe chiefthe Prophet

He the Priest of Prayerthe Pale-face

With his guides and his companions.

And the noble Hiawatha

With his hands aloft extended

Held aloft in sign of welcome

Waitedfull of exultation

Till the birch canoe with paddles

Grated on the shining pebbles

Stranded on the sandy margin

Till the Black-Robe chiefthe Pale-face

With the cross upon his bosom

Landed on the sandy margin.

Then the joyous Hiawatha

Cried aloud and spake in this wise:

"Beautiful is the sunO strangers

When you come so far to see us!

All our town in peace awaits you

All our doors stand open for you;

You shall enter all our wigwams

For the heart's right hand we give you.

"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.

"Never before had our tobacco

Such a sweet and pleasant flavor

Never the broad leaves of our cornfields

Were so beautiful to look on

As they seem to us this morning

When you come so far to see us!"

And the Black-Robe chief made answer

Stammered in his speech a little

Speaking words yet unfamiliar:

"Peace be with youHiawatha

Peace be with you and your people

Peace of prayerand peace of pardon

Peace of Christand joy of Mary!"

Then the generous Hiawatha

Led the strangers to his wigwam.

Seated them on skins of bison

Seated them on skins of ermine

And the carefulold Nokomis

Brought them food in bowls of bass-wood

Water brought in birchen dippers

And the calumetthe peace-pipe

Filled and lighted for their smoking

All the old men of the village

All the warriors of the nation

All the Jossakeedsthe prophets

The magiciansthe Wabenos

And the medicine-menthe Medas

Came to bid the strangers welcome;

"It is well" they said"O brothers

That you come so far to see us!"

In a circle round the doorway

With their pipes they sat in silence

Waiting to behold the strangers

Waiting to receive their message;

Till the Black-Robe chiefthe Pale-face

From the wigwam came to greet them

Stammering in his speech a little

Speaking words yet unfamiliar;

"It is well" they said"O brother

That you come so far to see us!"

Then the Black-Robe chiefthe prophet

Told his message to the people

Told the purport of his mission

Told them of the Virgin Mary

And her blessed Sonthe Saviour

How in distant lands and ages

He had lived on earth as we do;

How he fastedprayedand labored;

How the Jewsthe tribe accursed

Mocked himscourged himcrucified him;

How he rose from where they laid him

Walked again with his disciples

And ascended into heaven.

And the chiefs made answersaying:

"We have listened to your message

We have heard your words of wisdom

We will think on what you tell us.

It is well for usO brothers

That you come so far to see us!"

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.

Heavy with the heat and silence

Grew the afternoon of Summer;

With a drowsy sound the forest

Whispered round the sultry wigwam

With a sound of sleep the water

Rippled on the beach below it;

From the cornfields shrill and ceaseless

Sang the grasshopperPah-puk-keena;

And the guests of Hiawatha

Weary with the heat of Summer

Slumbered in the sultry wigwam.

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 thicketdinglehollow;

Still the guests of Hiawatha

Slumbered in the silent wigwam.

From his place rose Hiawatha

Bade farewell to old Nokomis

Spake in whispersspake in this wise

Did not wake the gueststhat slumbered:

"I am goingO Nokomis

On a long and distant journey

To the portals of the Sunset

To the regions of the home-wind

Of the Northwest windKeewaydin.

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 Hiawatha!"

Forth into the village went he

Bade farewell to all the warriors

Bade farewell to all the young men

Spake persuadingspake in this wise:

"I am goingO my people

On a long and distant journey;

Many moons and many winters

Will have comeand 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 morning!"

On the shore stood Hiawatha

Turned and waved his hand at parting;

On the clear and luminous water

Launched his birch canoe for sailing

From the pebbles of the margin

Shoved it forth into the water;

Whispered to it"Westward! westward!"

And with speed it darted forward.

And the evening sun descending

Set the clouds on fire with redness

Burned the broad skylike a prairie

Left upon the level water

One long track and trail of splendor

Down whose streamas down a river

Westwardwestward Hiawatha

Sailed into the fiery sunset

Sailed into the purple vapors

Sailed into the dusk of evening.

And the people from the margin

Watched him floatingrisingsinking

Till the birch canoe seem lifted

High into that sea of splendor

Till it sank into the vapors

Like the new moon slowlyslowly

Sinking in the purple distance.

And they said"Farewell forever!"

Said"FarewellO Hiawatha!"

And the forestsdark and lonely

Moved through all their depths of darkness

Sighed"FarewellO Hiawatha!"

And the waves upon the margin

Risingrippling on the pebbles

Sobbed"FarewellO Hiawatha!"

And the heronthe Shuh-shuh-gah

From her haunts among the fen-lands

Screamed"FarewellO Hiawatha!"

Thus departed Hiawatha

Hiawatha the Beloved

In the glory of the sunset

In the purple mists of evening

To the regions of the home-wind

Of the Northwest wind Keewaydin

To the Islands of the Blessed

To the kingdom of Ponemah

To the land of the Hereafter! - -

THE END




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