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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 Wooing

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

by Henry W. Longfellow

"As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman
Though she bends him, she obeys him,
Though she draws him, yet she follows-
Useless each without the other!"

Thus the youthful Hiawatha
Said within himself and pondered
Much perplexed by various feelings--
Listless, longing, hoping, fearing,
Dreaming still of Minnehaha,
Of the lovely Laughing Water,
In the Land of the Dacotahs.

"Wed a maiden of your people,"
Warning said the old Nokomis;
"Go not eastward, go not westward,
For a stranger, whom we know not!
Like a fire upon the hearthstone
Is a neighbor's homely daughter;
Like the starlight or the moonlight
Is the handsomest of strangers!"

Thus dissuading spake Nokomis,
And my Hiawatha answered
Only this: "Dear old Nokomis,
Very pleasant is the firelight,
But I like the starlight better,
Better do I like the moonlight!"

Gravely then said old Nokomis:
"Bring not here an idle maiden,
Bring not here a useless woman,
Hands unskillful, feet unwilling;
Bring a wife with nimble fingers,

Heart and hand that move together,
Feet that run on willing errands!"

Smiling answered Hiawatha:
"In the Land of the Dacotahs
Lives the Arrow-maker's daughter,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water,
Handsomest of all the women.
I will bring her to your wigwam;
She shall run upon your errands,
Be your starlight, moonlight, firelight,
Be the sunlight of my people!"

Still dissuading, said Nokomis:
"Bring not to my lodge a stranger
From the Land of the Dacotahs!
Very fierce are the Dacotahs.
Often is there war between us;
There are feuds yet unforgotten,
Wounds that ache and still may open!"

Laughing answered Hiawatha:
"For that reason, if no other,
Would I wed the fair Dacotah,
That our tribes might be united,
That old feuds might be forgotten,
And old wounds be healed forever!"

Thus departed Hiawatha
To the land of the Dacotahs,
To the land of handsome women,
Striding over moor and meadow,
Through interminable forests,
Through uninterrupted silence.

With his moccasins of magic,
At each stride a mile he measured;
Yet the way seemed long before him,
And his heart outran his footsteps;
And he journeyed without resting,
Till he heard the cataract's laughter,
Heard the Falls of Minnehaha
Calling to him through the silence.

"Pleasant is the sound!" he murmured,
"Pleasant is the voice that calls me!"
On the outskirts of the forest,
'Twixt the shadow and the sunshine,
Herds of fallow deer were feeding,
But they saw not Hiawatha;
To his bow he whispered, "Fail not!"
To his arrow whispered, "Swerve not!"
Sent it singing on its errand,
To the red heart of the roebuck;
Threw the deer across his shoulder
And sped forward without pausing.

At the doorway of his wigwam
Sat the ancient Arrow-maker,
In the land of the Dacotahs,
Making arrow-heads of jasper,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony.
At his side, in all her beauty,
Sat the lovely Minnehaha,
Sat his daughter, Laughing Water,
Plaiting mats of flags and rushes;
Of the past the old man's thoughts were,
And the maiden's of the future.

He was thinking, as he sat there,
Of the days when with such arrows
He had struck the deer and bison,
On the Muskoday, the meadow;
Shot the wild goose, flying southward,
On the wing, the clamorous Wawa;
Thinking of the great war-parties,
How they came to buy his arrows,
Could not fight without his arrows.

She was thinking of a hunter,
From another tribe and country,
Young and tall and very handsome,
Who one morning, in the springtime,
Came to buy her father's arrows,
Sat and rested in the wigwam,
Lingered long about the doorway,
Looking back as he departed.
She had heard her father praise him,
Praise his courage and his wisdom;
Would he come again for arrows
To the Falls of Minnehaha?
On the mat her hands lay idle,
And her eyes were very dreamy.

Through their thoughts they heard a footstep,
Heard a rustling in the branches,
And with glowing cheek and forehead,
With the deer upon his shoulders,
Suddenly from out the woodlands
Hiawatha stood before them.

Straight the ancient Arrow-maker
Looked up gravely from his labor,
Laid aside the unfinished arrow,
Bade him enter at the doorway,
Saying, as he rose to meet him,
"Hiawatha, you are welcome!"

At the feet of Laughing Water
Hiawatha laid his burden,
Threw the red deer from his shoulders;
And the maiden looked up at him,
Looked up from her mat of rushes,
Said with gentle look and accent,
"You are welcome, Hiawatha!"
Very spacious was the wigwam,
Made of deerskin dressed and whitened,
With the gods of the Dacotahs
Drawn and painted on its curtains;
And so tall the doorway, hardly
Hiawatha stooped to enter,
Hardly touched his eagle-feathers
As he entered at the doorway.

Then up rose the Laughing Water;
From the ground fair Minnehaha
Laid aside her mat unfinished,
Brought forth food and set before them,
Water brought them from the brooklet,
Gave them food in earthen vessels,
Gave them drink in bowls of basswood,
Listened while the guest was speaking,
Listened while her father answered.
But not once her lips she opened,
Not a single word she uttered.

Yes, as in a dream she listened
To the words of Hiawatha,
As he talked of old Nokomis,
Who had nursed him in his childhood,
As he told of his companions, Chibiabos,
the musician, And the very strong man,
Kwasind, And of happiness and plenty In
the land of the Ojibways,

In the pleasant land and peaceful.
"After many years of warfare,
Many years of strife and bloodshed,
There is peace between the Ojibways
And the tribe of the Dacotahs."
Thus continued Hiawatha,
And then added, speaking slowly,
"That this peace may last forever,
And our hands be clasped more closely,
And our hearts be more united,
Give me as my wife this maiden,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water,
Loveliest of Dacotah women!"

And the ancient Arrow-maker
Paused a moment ere he answered,
Smoked a little while in silence,
Looked at Hiawatha proudly,
Fondly looked at Laughing Water,
And made answer very gravely:
"Yes, if Minnehaha wishes;
Let your heart speak, Minnehaha!"

And the lovely Laughing Water
Seemed more lovely, as she stood there,
Neither willing nor reluctant,
As she went to Hiawatha,
Softly took the seat beside him,
While she said, and blushed to say it,
"I will follow you, my husband!"

This was Hiawatha's wooing!
Thus it was he won the daughter
Of the ancient Arrow-maker,
In the land of the Dacotahs!

From the wigwam he departed,
Leading with him Laughing Water;
Hand in hand they went together,
Through the woodland and the meadow,
Left the old man standing lonely
At the doorway of his wigwam,
Heard the Falls of Minnehaha
Calling to them from the distance,
Crying to them from afar off,
"Fare thee well, O Minnehaha!"
And the ancient Arrow-maker
Turned again unto his labor,
Sat down by his sunny doorway,
Murmuring to himself, and saying:
"Thus it is our daughters leave us,
Those we love, and those who love us!
Just when they have learned to help us,
When we are old and lean upon them,
Comes a youth with flaunting feathers,
With his flute of reeds, a stranger,
Wanders piping through the village,
Beckons to the fairest maiden,
And she follows where he leads her,
Leaving all things for the stranger!"

Pleasant was the journey homeward,
Through interminable forests,
Over meadow, over mountain,
Over river, hill, and hollow.
Short it seemed to Hiawatha,
Though they journeyed very slowly,
Though his pace he checked and slackened
To the steps of Laughing Water.
Over wide and rushing rivers
In his arms he bore the maiden;

Light he thought her as a feather,
As the plume upon his head-gear;
Cleared the tangled pathway for her,
Bent aside the swaying branches,
Made at night a lodge of branches,
And a bed with boughs of hemlock,
And a fire before the doorway
With the dry cones of the pine-tree.

All the traveling winds went with them,
O'er the meadow, through the forest;
All the stars of night looked at them,
Watched with sleepless eyes their slumber;
From his ambush in the oak-tree
Peeped the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
Watched with eager eyes the lovers;
And the rabbit, the Wabasso,
Scampered from the path before them,
Peering, peeping from his burrow,
Sat erect upon his haunches,
Watched with curious eyes the lovers.

Pleasant was the journey homeward!
All the birds sang loud and sweetly
Songs of happiness and heart's-ease;
Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa,
"Happy are you, Hiawatha,
Having such a wife to love you!"
Sang the robin, the Opechee,
"Happy are you; Laughing Water,
Having such a noble husband!"

From the sky the sun benignant
Looked upon them through the branches,
Saying to them, "O my children,
Love is sunshine, hate is shadow;
Life is checkered shade and sunshine;
Rule by love, O Hiawatha!"
From the sky the moon looked at them,
Filled the lodge with mystic splendors,
Whispered to them, "O my children,
Day is restless, night is quiet,
Man imperious, woman feeble;
Half is mine, although I follow;
Rule by patience, Laughing Water!"
Thus it was they journeyed homeward;
Thus it was that Hiawatha
To the lodge of old Nokomis
Brought the moonlight, starlight, firelight,
Brought the sunshine of his people,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water,
Handsomest of all the women
In the land of the Dacotahs,
In the land of handsome women.

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. Why did Nokomis wish Hiawatha to wed a maiden of his own people? 2. Whom did Hiawatha say he would wed? 3. Find the Falls of Minnehaha on your map. 4. Read lines that tell of Hiawatha's journey "To the land of the Dacotahs." 5. Of what was the Arrow-maker thinking when Hiawatha appeared? 6. Read lines that tell of what the maiden was thinking. 7. Read the words of Hiawatha when he asked the father for his daughter. 8. In what words did the Arrow-maker give his consent? 9. What was Minnehaha's answer? 10. Read lines that tell of the journey homeward. 11. Why did Hiawatha "check" his pace on this journey? 12. What greeting did the bluebird give them? 13. What was the greeting of the robin? The sun? The moon? 14. Read the lines that you like best. 15. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: cord; nimble; moor; fallow; swerve; jasper; flags; rushes; basswood; flaunting. 16. Pronounce: dissuading; feuds; wounds; chalcedony; plaiting; bade; spacious; benignant; mystic; imperious.

Phrases for Study

feet unwilling, neither willing nor reluctant, yet unforgotten, interminable forests, wanders piping through the village, moccasins of magic, heart outran his footsteps, heart's-ease, cataract's laughter, sun benignant, deerskin dressed and whitened, hate is shadow, mystic splendors.

 

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