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  August 21, 2014
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Native American Poems for Kids - Childrens Indian Poetry

Native American Poems

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Children's Native American Poems
Indian Poetry and Recitals for Teachers

 
 

Home > Social Studies > Native American > Poems, Rhymes and Recitals > Hiawatha's Friends

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - Hiawatha's FriendsHiawatha's Friends

by Henry W. Longfellow

Two good friends had Hiawatha,
Singled out from all the others,
Bound to him in closest union,
And to whom he gave the right hand
Of his heart, in joy and sorrow:
Chibiabos, the musician,
And the very strong man, Kwasind.

Most beloved by Hiawatha
Was the gentle Chibiabos,
We the best of all musicians,
He the sweetest of all singers.
Beautiful and childlike was he,
Brave as man is, soft as woman,
Pliant as a wand of willow,
Stately as a deer with antlers.

When he sang, the village listened;
All the warriors gathered round him,
All the women came to hear him;
Now he stirred their souls to passion,
Now he melted them to pity.

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,
Ceased his chatter in the oak-tree,
And the rabbit, the Wabasso,
Sat upright to look and listen.

Yes, the brook, the Sebowisha,
Pausing, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach my waves to flow in music,
Softly as your words in singing!"

Yes, the bluebird, the Owaissa,
Envious, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as wild and wayward,
Teach me songs as full of frenzy!"

Yes, the robin, the Opechee,
Joyous, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tunes as sweet and tender,
Teach me songs as full of gladness!"

And the whippoorwill, Wawonaissa,
Sobbing, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as melancholy,
Teach me songs as full of sadness!"

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 Pond,
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;
For his very strength he loved him,
For his strength allied to goodness.

Idle in his youth was Kwasind,
Very listless, dull, and dreamy,
Never played with other children,
Never fished and never hunted;
Not like other children was he.

"Lazy Kwasind!" said his mother,
"In my work you never help me!
In the summer you are roaming
Idly in the fields and forests;
In the winter you are cowering
O'er the firebrands in the wigwam!
In the coldest days of winter
I must break the ice for fishing;
With my nets you never help me!
At the door--my nets are hanging,
Dripping, freezing with the water;
Go and wring them, Yenadizze!
Go and dry them in the sunshine!"

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 hunt 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,
Kwasind leaped into the river,
Plunged beneath the bubbling surface,
Through the whirlpools chased the beaver,
Followed him among the islands,
Stayed so long beneath the water
That his terrified companions
Cried, "Alas! good-by to Kwasind!
We shall never more see Kwasind!"
But he reappeared triumphant,
And upon his shining shoulders
Brought the beaver, dead and dripping,
Brought the King of all the Beavers.

And these two, as I have told you,
Were the friends of Hiawatha,
Chibiabos, the musician,
And the very strong man, Kwasind;
Long they lived in peace together,
Spake with naked hearts together,
Pondering much and much contriving
How the tribes of men might prosper.

Notes and Questions

Longfellow is the poet who has spoken most sincerely and sympathetically to the hearts of the common people and to children. His style is notable for its simplicity and grace. His Hiawatha is a national poem that records the picturesque traditions of the American Indian. Its charm and melody are the delight of all children, and in years to come, when the race which it describes has utterly disappeared, we shall value at even higher worth these stories of the romantic past of America and of the brave people who inhabited these mountains and plains before the white man came.

Discussion.

  1. What two friends had Hiawatha "Singled out from all the others"?
  2. What were they "contriving"?
  3. Read lines that tell of Chibiabos.
  4. With what is he compared? Read lines that tell.
  5. From what did he make his flutes?
  6. Read lines that tell how musical they were.
  7. What did the brook say to Chibiabos? The bluebird? The robin?
  8. Of what did Chibiabos sing?
  9. Why did Hiawatha love him more than all others?
  10. For what did Hiawatha love Kwasind?
  11. What did Kwasind's mother say to him? His father?
  12. What is meant by the line, "Every bow you touch is broken"?
  13. Read lines that tell of Kwasind and the beaver.
  14. Which of Hiawatha's two friends do you like the better? Why?
  15. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: reeds; frenzy; listless; cowering; clamber; ponder; sported.
  16. Pronounce: pliant; wand; pathos; allied; asunder; quoit; triumphant.

Phrases for Study

singled out, strength allied to goodness, bound to him, bring the hunting homeward, pliant as a wand, stirred their souls to passion, forbidding further passage, poised it in the air, melted them to pity, sheer into the river, fashioned flutes, shining shoulders, flow in music, spake with naked hearts, Islands of the Blessed, pondering much, magic of his singing, much contriving.

 

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