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Native American Poems for Kids - Childrens Indian Poetry

Native American Poems

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - Hiawatha's SailingHiawatha's Sailing

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - Hiawatha's FishingHiawatha's Fishing

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - The Song of HiawathaThe Song of Hiawatha

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - Hiawatha's ChildhoodHiawatha's Childhood

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

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - Hiawatha's WooingHiawatha's Wooing

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - The White Man's FootThe White Man's Foot

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - Hiawatha's HuntingHiawatha's Hunting

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - The Arrow and the SongThe Arrow and the Song

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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 Sailing

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - Hiawatha's SailingHiawatha's Sailing

by Henry W. Longfellow

"Give me of your bark, O Birch-tree!
Of your yellow bark, O Birch-tree!
Growing by the rushing river,
Tall and stately in the valley!
I a light canoe will build me,
Build a swift Cheemaun for sailing,
That shall float upon the river,
Like a yellow leaf in Autumn,
Like a yellow water-lily!

"Lay aside your cloak, O Birch-tree!
Lay aside your white-skin wrapper,
For the Summer-time is coming,
And the sun is warm in heaven,
And you need no white-skin wrapper!"

Thus aloud cried Hiawatha
In the solitary forest,
By the rushing Taquamenaw,
When the birds were singing gayly,
In the Moon of Leaves were singing,
And the sun, from sleep awaking,
Started up and said, "Behold me!
Geezis, the great Sun, behold me!"

And the tree with all its branches
Rustled in the breeze of morning,
Saying, with a sigh of patience,
"Take my cloak, O Hiawatha!"

With his knife the tree he girdled;
Just beneath its lowest branches,
Just above the roots, he cut it,
Till the sap came oozing outward;
Down the trunk, from top to bottom,
Sheer he cleft the bark asunder,
With a wooden wedge he raised it,
Stripped it from the trunk unbroken.

"Give me of your boughs, O Cedar!
Of your strong and pliant branches,
My canoe to make more steady,
Make more strong and firm beneath me!"

Through the summit of the Cedar
Went a sound, a cry of horror,
Went a murmur of resistance;
But it whispered, bending downward,
"Take my boughs, O Hiawatha!"

Down he hewed the boughs of cedar,
Shaped them straightway to a frame-work,
Like two bows he formed and shaped them,
Like 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
That the water may not enter,
That the river may not wet me!"

And the Larch, with all its fibres,
Shivered in the air of morning,
Touched his forehead with its tassels,
Said, with one long sigh of sorrow,
"Take them all, O Hiawatha!"

From the earth he tore the fibres,
Tore the tough roots of the Larch-tree,
Closely sewed the bark together,
Bound it closely to the frame-work.

"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 bosom!"

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
In the valley, by the river,
In the bosom of the forest;
And the forest's life was in it,
All its mystery and its magic,
All the lightness of the birch-tree,
All the toughness of the cedar,
All the larch's supple sinews;
And it floated on the river
Like a yellow leaf in Autumn,
Like a yellow water-lily.

Paddles none had Hiawatha,
Paddles none he had or needed,
For his thoughts as paddles served him,
And his wishes served to guide him;
Swift or slow at will he glided,
Veered to right or left at pleasure.

Then he called aloud to Kwasind,
To his friend, the strong man, Kwasind,
Saying, "Help me clear this river
Of its sunken logs and sand-bars."

Straight into the river Kwasind
Plunged as if he were an otter,
Dived as if he were a beaver,
Stood up to his waist in water,
To his arm-pits in the river,
Swam and shouted in the river,
Tugged at sunken logs and branches,
With his hands he scooped the sand-bars,
With his feet the ooze and tangle.

And thus sailed my Hiawatha
Down the rushing Taquamenaw,
Sailed through all its bends and windings,
Sailed through all its deeps and shallows,
While his friend, the strong man, Kwasind,
Swam the deeps, the shallows waded.

Up and down the river went they,
In and out among its islands,
Cleared its bed of root and sand-bar,
Dragged the dead trees from its channel,
Made its passage safe and certain,
Made a pathway for the people,
From its springs among the mountains,
To the waters of Pauwating,
To the bay of Taquamenau.

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. Of what did Hiawatha make his canoe?
  2. Why does Hiawatha call the bark of the birch-tree a cloak?
  3. What other name does he give the bark of the birch-tree?
  4. What word tells the sound made by the leaves of the birch-tree?
  5. What word tells that Hiawatha cut all around the birch-tree?
  6. Why did Hiawatha ask the cedar tree for its boughs?
  7. Read lines that tell why he asked the larch-tree for its roots.
  8. What other name does he give the larch tree?
  9. Why does Hiawatha call the drops of balsam "tears"?
  10. Can the hedgehog really shoot his quills "like arrows"?
  11. What is meant by "my beauty"?
  12. Read lines that tell how Hiawatha decorated his canoe.
  13. What did he use for paddles for the canoe?
  14. What did Kwasind do to aid the canoeing?
  15. Why is the fir-tree spoken of as "somber"?
  16. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: stately; larch; channel.
  17. Pronounce: horror; hewed; tamarack; fibrous; forehead; balm; balsam; resin; fissure; crevice; bosom; resplendent; supple; veered; swam.

Phrases for Study

white-skin wrapper, robes of darkness, oozing outward, deck her bosom, cleft the bark asunder, shot his shining quills, summit of the Cedar, wrought them, shaped them to a framework, forest's life was in it, ooze and tangle, close the seams together.

 

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