The Song of Hiawatha An Epic Poem

The Song of Hiawatha
An Epic Poem

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INTRODUCTION.   Should you ask me, whence these stories?Whence these legends and traditions,With the odors of the forest,With the dew and damp of meadows,5With the curling smoke of wigwams,With the rushing of great rivers,With their frequent repetitions,And their wild reverberations,As of thunder in the mountains?10I should answer, I should tell you,"From the forests and the prairies,From the great lakes of the Northland,From the land of the Ojibways,From the land of the Dacotahs,15From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands,Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,Feeds among the reeds and rushes.I repeat them as I heard themFrom the lips of Nawadaha,20The musician, the sweet singer."Should you ask where NawadahaFound these songs so wild and wayward,Found these legends and traditions,I should answer, I should tell you,25"In the bird's-nests of the forest,In the lodges of the beaver,In the hoof-prints of the bison,In the eyry of the eagle!"All the wild-fowl sang them to him,30In the moorlands and the fen-lands,In the melancholy marshes;Chetowaik, the plover, sang them,Mahn, the loon, the wild goose, Wawa,The blue heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah35And the grouse, the Mushkodasa!"If still further you should ask me,Saying, "Who was Nawadaha?Tell us of this Nawadaha,"I should answer your inquiries40Straightway in such words as follow."In the Vale of Tawasentha,In the green and silent valley,By the pleasant water-courses,Dwelt the singer Nawadaha.45Round about the Indian villageSpread the meadows and the cornfields,And beyond them stood the forest,Stood the groves of singing pine-trees,Green in Summer, white in Winter,50Ever sighing, ever singing."And the pleasant water-courses,You could trace them through the valley,By the rushing in the Spring-time,By the alders in the Summer,55By the white fog in the Autumn,By the black line in the Winter;And beside them dwelt the singer,In the vale of Tawasentha,In the green and silent valley.60"There he sang of Hiawatha,Sang the Song of Hiawatha,Sang his wondrous birth and being,How he prayed and how he fasted,How he lived, and toiled, and suffered65That the tribes of men might prosper,That he might advance his people!"Ye who love the haunts of Nature,Love the sunshine of the meadow,Love the shadow of the forest,70Love the wind among the branches,And the rain-shower and the snow-storm,And the rushing of great riversThrough their palisades of pine-trees,And the thunder in the mountains,75Whose innumerable echoesFlap like eagles in their eyries;—Listen to these wild traditions,To this Song of Hiawatha!Ye who love a nation's legends80Love the ballads of a people,That like voices from afar offCall to us to pause and listen,Speak in tones so plain and childlike,Scarcely can the ear distinguish85Whether they are sung or spoken;—Listen to this Indian Legend,To this Song of Hiawatha...!