Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
Western States: Superior, the Lake
Hiawatha’s Departure
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 
(From The Song of Hiawatha)

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.        5
  All the air was full of freshness,
All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him, through the sunshine,
Westward through the neighboring forest
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,        10
Passed the bees, the honey-makers,
Burning, singing in the sunshine.
  Bright above him shone the heavens,
Level spread the lake before him;
From its bosom leaped the sturgeon,        15
Sparkling, flashing in the sunshine;
On its margin the great forest
Stood reflected in the water,
Every tree-top had its shadow,
Motionless beneath the water.        20
  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,        25
With a look of exultation,
As of one who in a vision
Sees what is to be, but is not,
Stood and waited Hiawatha.
  Toward the sun his hands were lifted,        30
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        35
Through the rifted leaves and branches.
  O’er the water floating, flying,
Something in the hazy distance,
Something in the mists of morning,
Loomed and lifted from the water,        40
Now seemed floating, now seemed flying,
Coming nearer, nearer, nearer.
  Was it Shingebis the diver?
Or the pelican, the Shada?
Or the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah?        45
Or the white goose, Wah-be-wawa,
With the water dripping, flashing,
From its glossy neck and feathers?
  It was neither goose nor diver,
Neither pelican nor heron,        50
O’er the water floating, flying,
Through the shining mist of morning
But a birch canoe with paddles,
Rising, sinking on the water,
Dripping, flashing in the sunshine;        55
And within it came a people
From the distant land of Wabun,
From the farthest realms of morning,
Came the Black-Robe chief, the Prophet,
He the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face,        60
With his guides and his companions.
  And the noble Hiawatha
With his hands aloft extended,
Held aloft in sign of welcome,
Waited, full of exultation,        65
Till the birch canoe with paddles
Grated on the shining pebbles,
Stranded on the sandy margin,
Till the Black-Robe chief, the Pale-face,
With the cross upon his bosom,        70
Landed on the sandy margin.
  Then the joyous Hiawatha,
Cried aloud and spake in this wise:
“Beautiful is the sun, O strangers,
When you come so far to see us!        75
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,        80
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;        85
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        90
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,        95
Speaking words yet unfamiliar:
  “Peace be with you, Hiawatha,
Peace be with you and your people,
Peace of prayer, and peace of pardon,
Peace of Christ, and joy of Mary!”
*        *        *        *        *
        100
  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,        105
Rushed into each secret ambush,
Searched each thicket, dingle, hollow;
Still the guests of Hiawatha
Slumbered in the silent wigwam.
  From his place rose Hiawatha,        110
Bade farewell to old Nokomis,
Spake in whispers, spake in this wise,
Did not wake the guests, that slumbered:
  “I am going, O Nokomis,
On a long and distant journey,        115
To the portals of the Sunset,
To the regions of the home-wind,
Of the Northwest wind, Keewaydin.
But these guests I leave behind me,
In your watch and ward I leave them;        120
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!”        125
  Forth into the village went he,
Bade farewell to all the warriors,
Bade farewell to all the young men,
Spake persuading, spake in this wise:
  “I am going, O my people,        130
On a long and distant journey;
Many moons and many winters
Will have come, and will have vanished,
Ere I come again to see you.
But my guests I leave behind me;        135
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,        140
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;        145
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 sky, like a prairie,        150
Left upon the level water,
One long track and trail of splendor,
Down whose stream, as down a river,
Westward, westward Hiawatha
Sailed into the fiery sunset,        155
Sailed into the purple vapors,
Sailed into the dusk of evening.
  And the people from the margin
Watched him floating, rising, sinking,
Till the birch canoe seemed lifted        160
High into that sea of splendor,
Till it sank into the vapors
Like the new moon slowly, slowly
Sinking in the purple distance.
  And they said, “Farewell forever!”        165
Said, “Farewell, O Hiawatha!”
And the forests, dark and lonely,
Moved through all their depths of darkness,
Sighed, “Farewell, O Hiawatha!”
And the waves upon the margin        170
Rising, rippling on the pebbles,
Sobbed, “Farewell, O Hiawatha!”
And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
From her haunts among the fen-lands,
Screamed, “Farewell, O Hiawatha!”        175
  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,        180
Of the Northwest wind Keewaydin,
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the kingdom of Ponemah,
To the land of the Hereafter!
 
 
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