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Best Famous Loon Poems

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Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Create an image from this poem

Hiawathas Childhood

 Downward through the evening twilight, 
In the days that are forgotten, 
In the unremembered ages, 
From the full moon fell Nokomis, 
Fell the beautiful Nokomis, 
She a wife, but not a mother.
She was sporting with her women, Swinging in a swing of grape-vines, When her rival the rejected, Full of jealousy and hatred, Cut the leafy swing asunder, Cut in twain the twisted grape-vines, And Nokomis fell affrighted Downward through the evening twilight, On the Muskoday, the meadow, On the prairie full of blossoms.
"See! a star falls!" said the people; "From the sky a star is falling!" There among the ferns and mosses, There among the prairie lilies, On the Muskoday, the meadow, In the moonlight and the starlight, Fair Nokomis bore a daughter.
And she called her name Wenonah, As the first-born of her daughters.
And the daughter of Nokomis Grew up like the prairie lilies, Grew a tall and slender maiden, With the beauty of the moonlight, With the beauty of the starlight.
And Nokomis warned her often, Saying oft, and oft repeating, "Oh, beware of Mudjekeewis, Of the West-Wind, Mudjekeewis; Listen not to what he tells you; Lie not down upon the meadow, Stoop not down among the lilies, Lest the West-Wind come and harm you!" But she heeded not the warning, Heeded not those words of wisdom, And the West-Wind came at evening, Walking lightly o'er the prairie, Whispering to the leaves and blossoms, Bending low the flowers and grasses, Found the beautiful Wenonah, Lying there among the lilies, Wooed her with his words of sweetness, Wooed her with his soft caresses, Till she bore a son in sorrow, Bore a son of love and sorrow.
Thus was born my Hiawatha, Thus was born the child of wonder; But the daughter of Nokomis, Hiawatha's gentle mother, In her anguish died deserted By the West-Wind, false and faithless, By the heartless Mudjekeewis.
For her daughter long and loudly Wailed and wept the sad Nokomis; "Oh that I were dead!" she murmured, "Oh that I were dead, as thou art! No more work, and no more weeping, Wahonowin! Wahonowin!" By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest, Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees, Rose the firs with cones upon them; Bright before it beat the water, Beat the clear and sunny water, Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
There the wrinkled old Nokomis Nursed the little Hiawatha, Rocked him in his linden cradle, Bedded soft in moss and rushes, Safely bound with reindeer sinews; Stilled his fretful wail by saying, "Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!" Lulled him into slumber, singing, "Ewa-yea! my little owlet! Who is this, that lights the wigwam? With his great eyes lights the wigwam? Ewa-yea! my little owlet!" Many things Nokomis taught him Of the stars that shine in heaven; Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet, Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses; Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits, Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs, Flaring far away to northward In the frosty nights of Winter; Showed the broad white road in heaven, Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows, Running straight across the heavens, Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.
At the door on summer evenings Sat the little Hiawatha; Heard the whispering of the pine-trees, Heard the lapping of the waters, Sounds of music, words of wonder; 'Minne-wawa!" said the Pine-trees, Mudway-aushka!" said the water.
Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-taysee, Flitting through the dusk of evening, With the twinkle of its candle Lighting up the brakes and bushes, And he sang the song of children, Sang the song Nokomis taught him: "Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly, Little, flitting, white-fire insect, Little, dancing, white-fire creature, Light me with your little candle, Ere upon my bed I lay me, Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!" Saw the moon rise from the water Rippling, rounding from the water, Saw the flecks and shadows on it, Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered: "Once a warrior, very angry, Seized his grandmother, and threw her Up into the sky at midnight; Right against the moon he threw her; 'T is her body that you see there.
" Saw the rainbow in the heaven, In the eastern sky, the rainbow, Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered: "'T is the heaven of flowers you see there; All the wild-flowers of the forest, All the lilies of the prairie, When on earth they fade and perish, Blossom in that heaven above us.
" When he heard the owls at midnight, Hooting, laughing in the forest, 'What is that?" he cried in terror, "What is that," he said, "Nokomis?" And the good Nokomis answered: "That is but the owl and owlet, Talking in their native language, Talking, scolding at each other.
" Then the little Hiawatha Learned of every bird its language, Learned their names and all their secrets, How they built their nests in Summer, Where they hid themselves in Winter, Talked with them whene'er he met them, Called them "Hiawatha's Chickens.
" Of all beasts he learned the language, Learned their names and all their secrets, How the beavers built their lodges, Where the squirrels hid their acorns, How the reindeer ran so swiftly, Why the rabbit was so timid, Talked with them whene'er he met them, Called them "Hiawatha's Brothers.
" Then Iagoo, the great boaster, He the marvellous story-teller, He the traveller and the talker, He the friend of old Nokomis, Made a bow for Hiawatha; From a branch of ash he made it, From an oak-bough made the arrows, Tipped with flint, and winged with feathers, And the cord he made of deer-skin.
Then he said to Hiawatha: "Go, my son, into the forest, Where the red deer herd together, Kill for us a famous roebuck, Kill for us a deer with antlers!" Forth into the forest straightway All alone walked Hiawatha Proudly, with his bow and arrows; And the birds sang round him, o'er him, "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!" Sang the robin, the Opechee, Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa, "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!" Up the oak-tree, close beside him, Sprang the squirrel, Adjidaumo, In and out among the branches, Coughed and chattered from the oak-tree, Laughed, and said between his laughing, "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!" And the rabbit from his pathway Leaped aside, and at a distance Sat erect upon his haunches, Half in fear and half in frolic, Saying to the little hunter, "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!" But he heeded not, nor heard them, For his thoughts were with the red deer; On their tracks his eyes were fastened, Leading downward to the river, To the ford across the river, And as one in slumber walked he.
Hidden in the alder-bushes, There he waited till the deer came, Till he saw two antlers lifted, Saw two eyes look from the thicket, Saw two nostrils point to windward, And a deer came down the pathway, Flecked with leafy light and shadow.
And his heart within him fluttered, Trembled like the leaves above him, Like the birch-leaf palpitated, As the deer came down the pathway.
Then, upon one knee uprising, Hiawatha aimed an arrow; Scarce a twig moved with his motion, Scarce a leaf was stirred or rustled, But the wary roebuck started, Stamped with all his hoofs together, Listened with one foot uplifted, Leaped as if to meet the arrow; Ah! the singing, fatal arrow, Like a wasp it buzzed and stung him! Dead he lay there in the forest, By the ford across the river; Beat his timid heart no longer, But the heart of Hiawatha Throbbed and shouted and exulted, As he bore the red deer homeward, And Iagoo and Nokomis Hailed his coming with applauses.
From the red deer's hide Nokomis Made a cloak for Hiawatha, From the red deer's flesh Nokomis Made a banquet to his honor.
All the village came and feasted, All the guests praised Hiawatha, Called him Strong-Heart, Soan-ge-taha! Called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-go-taysee!

Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem


 O MATER! O fils! 
O brood continental! 
O flowers of the prairies! 
O space boundless! O hum of mighty products! 
O you teeming cities! O so invincible, turbulent, proud!
O race of the future! O women! 
O fathers! O you men of passion and the storm! 
O native power only! O beauty! 
O yourself! O God! O divine average! 
O you bearded roughs! O bards! O all those slumberers!
O arouse! the dawn bird’s throat sounds shrill! Do you not hear the cock crowing? 
O, as I walk’d the beach, I heard the mournful notes foreboding a tempest—the
 oft-repeated shriek of the diver, the long-lived loon; 
O I heard, and yet hear, angry thunder;—O you sailors! O ships! make quick
O from his masterful sweep, the warning cry of the eagle! 
(Give way there, all! It is useless! Give up your spoils;)
O sarcasms! Propositions! (O if the whole world should prove indeed a sham, a sell!) 
O I believe there is nothing real but America and freedom! 
O to sternly reject all except Democracy! 
O imperator! O who dare confront you and me? 
O to promulgate our own! O to build for that which builds for mankind!
O feuillage! O North! O the slope drained by the Mexican sea! 
O all, all inseparable—ages, ages, ages! 
O a curse on him that would dissever this Union for any reason whatever! 
O climates, labors! O good and evil! O death! 
O you strong with iron and wood! O Personality!
O the village or place which has the greatest man or woman! even if it be only a few
O the city where women walk in public processions in the streets, the same as the men; 
O a wan and terrible emblem, by me adopted! 
O shapes arising! shapes of the future centuries! 
O muscle and pluck forever for me!
O workmen and workwomen forever for me! 
O farmers and sailors! O drivers of horses forever for me! 
O I will make the new bardic list of trades and tools! 
O you coarse and wilful! I love you! 
O South! O longings for my dear home! O soft and sunny airs!
O pensive! O I must return where the palm grows and the mocking-bird sings, or else I die!

O equality! O organic compacts! I am come to be your born poet! 
O whirl, contest, sounding and resounding! I am your poet, because I am part of you; 
O days by-gone! Enthusiasts! Antecedents! 
O vast preparations for These States! O years!
O what is now being sent forward thousands of years to come! 
O mediums! O to teach! to convey the invisible faith! 
To promulge real things! to journey through all The States! 
O creation! O to-day! O laws! O unmitigated adoration! 
O for mightier broods of orators, artists, and singers!
O for native songs! carpenter’s, boatman’s, ploughman’s songs!
O haughtiest growth of time! O free and extatic! 
O what I, here, preparing, warble for! 
O you hastening light! O the sun of the world will ascend, dazzling, and take his
 height—and you too will ascend; 
O so amazing and so broad! up there resplendent, darting and burning;
O prophetic! O vision staggered with weight of light! with pouring glories! 
O copious! O hitherto unequalled! 
O Libertad! O compact! O union impossible to dissever! 
O my Soul! O lips becoming tremulous, powerless! 
O centuries, centuries yet ahead!
O voices of greater orators! I pause—I listen for you 
O you States! Cities! defiant of all outside authority! I spring at once into your arms!
 you I
 most love! 
O you grand Presidentiads! I wait for you! 
New history! New heroes! I project you! 
Visions of poets! only you really last! O sweep on! sweep on!
O Death! O you striding there! O I cannot yet! 
O heights! O infinitely too swift and dizzy yet! 
O purged lumine! you threaten me more than I can stand! 
O present! I return while yet I may to you! 
O poets to come, I depend upon you!
Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Create an image from this poem

Hiawathas Lamentation

 In those days the Evil Spirits,
All the Manitos of mischief,
Fearing Hiawatha's wisdom,
And his love for Chibiabos,
Jealous of their faithful friendship,
And their noble words and actions,
Made at length a league against them,
To molest them and destroy them.
Hiawatha, wise and wary, Often said to Chibiabos, "O my brother! do not leave me, Lest the Evil Spirits harm you!" Chibiabos, young and heedless, Laughing shook his coal-black tresses, Answered ever sweet and childlike, "Do not fear for me, O brother! Harm and evil come not near me!" Once when Peboan, the Winter, Roofed with ice the Big-Sea-Water, When the snow-flakes, whirling downward, Hissed among the withered oak-leaves, Changed the pine-trees into wigwams, Covered all the earth with silence, Armed with arrows, shod with snow-shoes, Heeding not his brother's warning, Fearing not the Evil Spirits, Forth to hunt the deer with antlers All alone went Chibiabos.
Right across the Big-Sea-Water Sprang with speed the deer before him.
With the wind and snow he followed, O'er the treacherous ice he followed, Wild with all the fierce commotion And the rapture of the hunting.
But beneath, the Evil Spirits Lay in ambush, waiting for him, Broke the treacherous ice beneath him, Dragged him downward to the bottom, Buried in the sand his body.
Unktahee, the god of water, He the god of the Dacotahs, Drowned him in the deep abysses Of the lake of Gitche Gumee.
From the headlands Hiawatha Sent forth such a wail of anguish, Such a fearful lamentation, That the bison paused to listen, And the wolves howled from the prairies, And the thunder in the distance Starting answered "Baim-wawa!" Then his face with black he painted, With his robe his head he covered, In his wigwam sat lamenting, Seven long weeks he sat lamenting, Uttering still this moan of sorrow: "He is dead, the sweet musician! He the sweetest of all singers! He has gone from us forever, He has moved a little nearer To the Master of all music, To the Master of all singing! O my brother, Chibiabos!" And the melancholy fir-trees Waved their dark green fans above him, Waved their purple cones above him, Sighing with him to console him, Mingling with his lamentation Their complaining, their lamenting.
Came the Spring, and all the forest Looked in vain for Chibiabos; Sighed the rivulet, Sebowisha, Sighed the rushes in the meadow.
From the tree-tops sang the bluebird, Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa, "Chibiabos! Chibiabos! He is dead, the sweet musician!" From the wigwam sang the robin, Sang the robin, the Opechee, "Chibiabos! Chibiabos! He is dead, the sweetest singer!" And at night through all the forest Went the whippoorwill complaining, Wailing went the Wawonaissa, "Chibiabos! Chibiabos! He is dead, the sweet musician! He the sweetest of all singers!" Then the Medicine-men, the Medas, The magicians, the Wabenos, And the Jossakeeds, the Prophets, Came to visit Hiawatha; Built a Sacred Lodge beside him, To appease him, to console him, Walked in silent, grave procession, Bearing each a pouch of healing, Skin of beaver, lynx, or otter, Filled with magic roots and simples, Filled with very potent medicines.
When he heard their steps approaching~, Hiawatha ceased lamenting, Called no more on Chibiabos; Naught he questioned, naught he answered, But his mournful head uncovered, From his face the mourning colors Washed he slowly and in silence, Slowly and in silence followed Onward to the Sacred Wigwam.
There a magic drink they gave him, Made of Nahma-wusk, the spearmint, And Wabeno-wusk, the yarrow, Roots of power, and herbs of healing; Beat their drums, and shook their rattles; Chanted singly and in chorus, Mystic songs like these, they chanted.
"I myself, myself! behold me! `T Is the great Gray Eagle talking; Come, ye white crows, come and hear him! The loud-speaking thunder helps me; All the unseen spirits help me; I can hear their voices calling, All around the sky I hear them! I can blow you strong, my brother, I can heal you, Hiawatha!" "Hi-au-ha!" replied the chorus, "Wayha-way!" the mystic chorus.
Friends of mine are all the serpents! Hear me shake my skin of hen-hawk! Mahng, the white loon, I can kill him; I can shoot your heart and kill it! I can blow you strong, my brother, I can heal you, Hiawatha !" "Hi-au-ha!" replied the chorus, "Wayhaway!" the mystic chorus.
"I myself, myself! the prophet! When I speak the wigwam trembles, Shakes the Sacred Lodge with terror, Hands unseen begin to shake it! When I walk, the sky I tread on Bends and makes a noise beneath me! I can blow you strong, my brother! Rise and speak, O Hiawatha!" "Hi-au-ha!" replied the chorus, "Way-ha-way!" the mystic chorus.
Then they shook their medicine-pouches O'er the head of Hiawatha, Danced their medicine-dance around him; And upstarting wild and haggard, Like a man from dreams awakened, He was healed of all his madness.
As the clouds are swept from heaven, Straightway from his brain departed All his moody melancholy; As the ice is swept from rivers, Straightway from his heart departed All his sorrow and affliction.
Then they summoned Chibiabos From his grave beneath the waters, From the sands of Gitche Gumee Summoned Hiawatha's brother.
And so mighty was the magic Of that cry and invocation, That he heard it as he lay there Underneath the Big-Sea-Water; From the sand he rose and listened, Heard the music and the singing, Came, obedient to the summons, To the doorway of the wigwam, But to enter they forbade him.
Through a chink a coal they gave him, Through the door a burning fire-brand; Ruler in the Land of Spirits, Ruler o'er the dead, they made him, Telling him a fire to kindle For all those that died thereafter, Camp-fires for their night encampments On their solitary journey To the kingdom of Ponemah, To the land of the Hereafter.
From the village of his childhood, From the homes of those who knew him, Passing silent through the forest, Like a smoke-wreath wafted sideways, Slowly vanished Chibiabos! Where he passed, the branches moved not, Where he trod, the grasses bent not, And the fallen leaves of last year Made no sound beneath his footstep.
Four whole days he journeyed onward Down the pathway of the dead men; On the dead-man's strawberry feasted, Crossed the melancholy river, On the swinging log he crossed it, Came unto the Lake of Silver, In the Stone Canoe was carried To the Islands of the Blessed, To the land of ghosts and shadows.
On that journey, moving slowly, Many weary spirits saw he, Panting under heavy burdens, Laden with war-clubs, bows and arrows, Robes of fur, and pots and kettles, And with food that friends had given For that solitary journey.
"Ay! why do the living," said they, "Lay such heavy burdens on us! Better were it to go naked, Better were it to go fasting, Than to bear such heavy burdens On our long and weary journey!" Forth then issued Hiawatha, Wandered eastward, wandered westward, Teaching men the use of simples And the antidotes for poisons, And the cure of all diseases.
Thus was first made known to mortals All the mystery of Medamin, All the sacred art of healing.
Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Create an image from this poem

Introduction To The Song Of Hiawatha

 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,
With 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?
I 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,
From 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 them From the lips of Nawadaha, The musician, the sweet singer.
" Should you ask where Nawadaha Found these songs so wild and wayward, Found these legends and traditions, I should answer, I should tell you, "In the bird's-nests of the forest, In the lodges of the beaver, In the hoofprint of the bison, In the eyry of the eagle! "All the wild-fowl sang them to him, In the moorlands and the fen-lands, In the melancholy marshes; Chetowaik, the plover, sang them, Mahng, the loon, the wild-goose, Wawa, The blue heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah, And the grouse, the Mushkodasa!" If still further you should ask me, Saying, "Who was Nawadaha? Tell us of this Nawadaha," I should answer your inquiries Straightway 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.
Round about the Indian village Spread the meadows and the corn-fields, And beyond them stood the forest, Stood the groves of singing pine-trees, Green in Summer, white in Winter, Ever 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, By 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.
"There he sang of Hiawatha, Sang the Song of Hiawatha, Sang his wondrous birth and being, How he prayed and how be fasted, How he lived, and toiled, and suffered, That 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, Love the wind among the branches, And the rain-shower and the snow-storm, And the rushing of great rivers Through their palisades of pine-trees, And the thunder in the mountains, Whose innumerable echoes Flap like eagles in their eyries;- Listen to these wild traditions, To this Song of Hiawatha! Ye who love a nation's legends, Love the ballads of a people, That like voices from afar off Call to us to pause and listen, Speak in tones so plain and childlike, Scarcely can the ear distinguish Whether they are sung or spoken;- Listen to this Indian Legend, To this Song of Hiawatha! Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple, Who have faith in God and Nature, Who believe that in all ages Every human heart is human, That in even savage bosoms There are longings, yearnings, strivings For the good they comprehend not, That the feeble hands and helpless, Groping blindly in the darkness, Touch God's right hand in that darkness And are lifted up and strengthened;- Listen to this simple story, To this Song of Hiawatha! Ye, who sometimes, in your rambles Through the green lanes of the country, Where the tangled barberry-bushes Hang their tufts of crimson berries Over stone walls gray with mosses, Pause by some neglected graveyard, For a while to muse, and ponder On a half-effaced inscription, Written with little skill of song-craft, Homely phrases, but each letter Full of hope and yet of heart-break, Full of all the tender pathos Of the Here and the Hereafter; Stay and read this rude inscription, Read this Song of Hiawatha!
Written by Andrew Barton Paterson | Create an image from this poem

Investigating Flora

 'Twas in scientific circles 
That the great Professor Brown 
Had a world-wide reputation 
As a writer of renown.
He had striven finer feelings In our natures to implant By his Treatise on the Morals Of the Red-eyed Bulldog Ant.
He had hoisted an opponent Who had trodden unawares On his "Reasons for Bare Patches On the Female Native Bears".
So they gave him an appointment As instructor to a band Of the most attractive females To be gathered in the land.
'Twas a "Ladies' Science Circle" -- Just the latest social fad For the Nicest People only, And to make their rivals mad.
They were fond of "science rambles" To the country from the town -- A parade of female beauty In the leadership of Brown.
They would pick a place for luncheon And catch beetles on their rugs; The Professor called 'em "optera" -- They calld 'em "nasty bugs".
Well, the thing was bound to perish For no lovely woman can Feel the slightest interest In a club without a Man -- The Professor hardly counted He was crazy as a loon, With a countenance suggestive Of an elderly baboon.
But the breath of Fate blew on it With a sharp and sudden blast, And the "Ladies' Science Circle" Is a memory of the past.
There were two-and-twenty members, Mostly young and mostly fair, Who had made a great excursion To a place called Dontknowwhere, At the crossing of Lost River, On the road to No Man's Land.
There they met an old selector, With a stockwhip in his hand, And the sight of so much beauty Sent him slightly "off his nut"; So he asked them, smiling blandly, "Would they come down to the hut?" "I am come," said the Professor, In his thin and reedy voice, "To investigate your flora, Which I feel is very choice.
" The selector stared dumbfounded, Till at last he found his tongue: "To investigate my Flora! Oh, you howlin' Brigham Young! Why, you've two-and-twenty wimmen -- Reg'lar slap-up wimmen, too! And you're after little Flora! And a crawlin' thing like you! Oh, you Mormonite gorilla! Well, I've heard it from the first That you wizened little fellers Is a hundred times the worst! But a dried-up ape like you are, To be marchin' through the land With a pack of lovely wimmen -- Well, I cannot understand!" "You mistake," said the Professor, In a most indignant tone -- While the ladies shrieked and jabbered In a fashion of their own -- "You mistake about these ladies, I'm a lecturer of theirs; I am Brown, who wrote the Treatise On the Female Native Bears! When I said we wanted flora, What I meant was native flowers.
" "Well, you said you wanted Flora, And I'll swear you don't get ours! But here's Flora's self a-comin', And it's time for you to skip, Or I'll write a treatise on you, And I'll write it with the whip! Now I want no explanations; Just you hook it out of sight, Or you'll charm the poor girl some'ow!" The Professor looked in fright: She was six feet high and freckled, And her hair was turkey-red.
The Professor gave a whimper, And threw down his bag and fled, And the Ladies' Science Circle, With a simultaneous rush, Travelled after its Professor, And went screaming through the bush! At the crossing of Lost River, On the road to No Man's Land, Where the grim and ghostly gumtrees Block the view on every hand, There they weep and wail and wander, Always seeking for the track, For the hapless old Professor Hasn't sense to guide 'em back; And they clutch at one another, And they yell and scream in fright As they see the gruesome creatures Of the grim Australian night; And they hear the mopoke's hooting, And the dingo's howl so dread, And the flying foxes jabber From the gum trees overhead; While the weird and wary wombats, In their subterranean caves, Are a-digging, always digging, At those wretched people's graves; And the pike-horned Queensland bullock, From his shelter in the scrub, Has his eye on the proceedings Of the Ladies' Science Club.

Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem


 "Black is the sky, but the land is white--
 (O the wind, the snow and the storm!)--
 Father, where is our boy to-night?
 Pray to God he is safe and warm.
" "Mother, mother, why should you fear? Safe is he, and the Arctic moon Over his cabin shines so clear-- Rest and sleep, 'twill be morning soon.
" "It's getting dark awful sudden.
Say, this is mighty *****! Where in the world have I got to? It's still and black as a tomb.
I reckoned the camp was yonder, I figured the trail was here-- Nothing! Just draw and valley packed with quiet and gloom; Snow that comes down like feathers, thick and gobby and gray; Night that looks spiteful ugly--seems that I've lost my way.
"The cold's got an edge like a jackknife--it must be forty below; Leastways that's what it seems like--it cuts so fierce to the bone.
The wind's getting real ferocious; it's heaving and whirling the snow; It shrieks with a howl of fury, it dies away to a moan; Its arms sweep round like a banshee's, swift and icily white, And buffet and blind and beat me.
Lord! it's a hell of a night.
"I'm all tangled up in a blizzard.
There's only one thing to do-- Keep on moving and moving; it's death, it's death if I rest.
Oh, God! if I see the morning, if only I struggle through, I'll say the prayers I've forgotten since I lay on my mother's breast.
I seem going round in a circle; maybe the camp is near.
Say! did somebody holler? Was it a light I saw? Or was it only a notion? I'll shout, and maybe they'll hear-- No! the wind only drowns me--shout till my throat is raw.
"The boys are all round the camp-fire wondering when I'll be back.
They'll soon be starting to seek me; they'll scarcely wait for the light.
What will they find, I wonder, when they come to the end of my track-- A hand stuck out of a snowdrift, frozen and stiff and white.
That's what they'll strike, I reckon; that's how they'll find their pard, A pie-faced corpse in a snowbank--curse you, don't be a fool! Play the game to the finish; bet on your very last card; Nerve yourself for the struggle.
Oh, you coward, keep cool! I'm going to lick this blizzard; I'm going to live the night.
It can't down me with its bluster--I'm not the kind to be beat.
On hands and knees will I buck it; with every breath will I fight; It's life, it's life that I fight for--never it seemed so sweet.
I know that my face is frozen; my hands are numblike and dead; But oh, my feet keep a-moving, heavy and hard and slow; They're trying to kill me, kill me, the night that's black overhead, The wind that cuts like a razor, the whipcord lash of the snow.
Keep a-moving, a-moving; don't, don't stumble, you fool! Curse this snow that's a-piling a-purpose to block my way.
It's heavy as gold in the rocker, it's white and fleecy as wool; It's soft as a bed of feathers, it's warm as a stack of hay.
Curse on my feet that slip so, my poor tired, stumbling feet; I guess they're a job for the surgeon, they feel so queerlike to lift-- I'll rest them just for a moment--oh, but to rest is sweet! The awful wind cannot get me, deep, deep down in the drift.
" "Father, a bitter cry I heard, Out of the night so dark and wild.
Why is my heart so strangely stirred? 'Twas like the voice of our erring child.
" "Mother, mother, you only heard A waterfowl in the locked lagoon-- Out of the night a wounded bird-- Rest and sleep, 'twill be morning soon.
" Who is it talks of sleeping? I'll swear that somebody shook Me hard by the arm for a moment, but how on earth could it be? See how my feet are moving--awfully funny they look-- Moving as if they belonged to a someone that wasn't me.
The wind down the night's long alley bowls me down like a pin; I stagger and fall and stagger, crawl arm-deep in the snow.
Beaten back to my corner, how can I hope to win? And there is the blizzard waiting to give me the knockout blow.
Oh, I'm so warm and sleepy! No more hunger and pain.
Just to rest for a moment; was ever rest such a joy? Ha! what was that? I'll swear it, somebody shook me again; Somebody seemed to whisper: "Fight to the last, my boy.
" Fight! That's right, I must struggle.
I know that to rest means death; Death, but then what does death mean? --ease from a world of strife.
Life has been none too pleasant; yet with my failing breath Still and still must I struggle, fight for the gift of life.
* * * * * Seems that I must be dreaming! Here is the old home trail; Yonder a light is gleaming; oh, I know it so well! The air is scented with clover; the cattle wait by the rail; Father is through with the milking; there goes the supper-bell.
* * * * * Mother, your boy is crying, out in the night and cold; Let me in and forgive me, I'll never be bad any more: I'm, oh, so sick and so sorry: please, dear mother, don't scold-- It's just your boy, and he wants you.
Mother, open the door.
"Father, father, I saw a face Pressed just now to the window-pane! Oh, it gazed for a moment's space, Wild and wan, and was gone again!" "Mother, mother, you saw the snow Drifted down from the maple tree (Oh, the wind that is sobbing so! Weary and worn and old are we)-- Only the snow and a wounded loon-- Rest and sleep, 'twill be morning soon.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Ballad Of Salvation Bill

 'Twas in the bleary middle of the hard-boiled Arctic night,
I was lonesome as a loon, so if you can,
Imagine my emotions of amazement and delight
When I bumped into that Missionary Man.
He was lying lost and dying in the moon's unholy leer, And frozen from his toes to finger-tips' The famished wolf-pack ringed him; but he didn't seem to fear, As he pressed his ice-bond Bible to his lips.
'Twas the limit of my trap-line, with the cabin miles away, And every step was like a stab of pain; But I packed him like a baby, and I nursed him night and day, Till I got him back to health and strength again.
So there we were, benighted in the shadow of the Pole, And he might have proved a priceless little pard, If he hadn't got to worrying about my blessed soul, And a-quotin' me his Bible by the yard.
Now there was I, a husky guy, whose god was Nicotine, With a "coffin-nail" a fixture in my mug; I rolled them in the pages of a pulpwood magazine, And hacked them with my jack-knife from the plug.
For, Oh to know the bliss and glow that good tobacco means, Just live among the everlasting ice .
So judge my horror when I found my stock of magazines Was chewed into a chowder by the mice.
A woeful week went by and not a single pill I had, Me that would smoke my forty in a day; I sighed, I swore, I strode the floor; I felt I would go mad: The gospel-plugger watched me with dismay.
My brow was wet, my teeth were set, my nerves were rasping raw; And yet that preacher couldn't understand: So with despair I wrestled there - when suddenly I saw The volume he was holding in his hand.
Then something snapped inside my brain, and with an evil start The wolf-man in me woke to rabid rage.
"I saved your lousy life," says I; "so show you have a heart, And tear me out a solitary page.
" He shrank and shrivelled at my words; his face went pewter white; 'Twas just as if I'd handed him a blow: And then .
and then he seemed to swell, and grow to Heaven's height, And in a voice that rang he answered: "No!" I grabbed my loaded rifle and I jabbed it to his chest: "Come on, you shrimp, give me that Book," says I.
Well sir, he was a parson, but he stacked up with the best, And for grit I got to hand it to the guy.
"If I should let you desecrate this Holy Word," he said, "My soul would be eternally accurst; So go on, Bill, I'm ready.
You can pump me full of lead And take it, but - you've got to kill me first.
" Now I'm no foul assassin, though I'm full of sinful ways, And I knew right there the fellow had me beat; For I felt a yellow mongrel in the glory of his gaze, And I flung my foolish firearm at his feet, Then wearily I turned away, and dropped upon my bunk, And there I lay and blubbered like a kid.
"Forgive me, pard," says I at last, "for acting like a skunk, But hide the blasted rifle.
" Which he did.
And he also hid his Bible, which was maybe just as well, For the sight of all that paper gave me pain; And there were crimson moments when I felt I'd o to hell To have a single cigarette again.
And so I lay day after day, and brooded dark and deep, Until one night I thought I'd end it all; Then rough I roused the preacher, where he stretched pretending sleep, With his map of horror turned towards the wall.
"See here, my pious pal," says I, "I've stood it long enough.
Behold! I've mixed some strychnine in a cup; Enough to kill a dozen men - believe me it's no bluff; Now watch me, for I'm gonna drink it up.
You've seen me bludgeoned by despair through bitter days and nights, And now you'll see me squirming as I die.
You're not to blame, you've played the game according to your lights.
But how would Christ have played it? - Well, good-bye.
" With that I raised the deadly drink and laid it to my lips, But he was on me with a tiger-bound; And as we locked and reeled and rocked with wild and wicked grips, The poison cup went crashing to the ground.
"Don't do it, Bill," he madly shrieked.
"Maybe I acted wrong.
See, here's my Bible - use it as you will; But promise me - you'll read a little as you go along.
You do! Then take it, Brother; smoke your fill.
" And so I did.
I smoked and smoked from Genesis to Job, And as I smoked I read each blessed word; While in the shadow of his bunk I heard him sigh and sob, And then .
a most peculiar thing occurred.
I got to reading more and more, and smoking less and less, Till just about the day his heart was broke, Says I: "Here, take it back, me lad.
I've had enough I guess.
Your paper makes a mighty rotten smoke.
" So then and there with plea and prayer he wrestled for my soul, And I was racked and ravaged by regrets.
But God was good, for lo! next day there came the police patrol, With paper for a thousand cigarettes.
So now I'm called Salvation Bill; I teach the Living Law, And Bally-hoo the Bible with the best; And if a guy won't listen - why, I sock him on the jaw, And preach the Gospel sitting on his chest.
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Dr. sam


Down in the old French quarter,
Just out of Rampart street,
I wend my way
At close of day
Unto the quaint retreat
Where lives the Voodoo Doctor
By some esteemed a sham,
Yet I'll declare there's none elsewhere
So skilled as Doctor Sam
With the claws of a deviled crawfish,
The juice of the prickly prune,
And the quivering dew
From a yarb that grew
In the light of a midnight moon!

I never should have known him
But for the colored folk
That here obtain
And ne'er in vain
That wizard's art invoke;
For when the Eye that's Evil
Would him and his'n damn,
The negro's grief gets quick relief
Of Hoodoo-Doctor Sam.
With the caul of an alligator, The plume of an unborn loon, And the poison wrung From a serpent's tongue By the light of a midnight moon! In all neurotic ailments I hear that he excels, And he insures Immediate cures Of weird, uncanny spells; The most unruly patient Gets docile as a lamb And is freed from ill by the potent skill Of Hoodoo-Doctor Sam; Feathers of strangled chickens, Moss from the dank lagoon, And plasters wet With spider sweat In the light of a midnight moon! They say when nights are grewsome And hours are, oh! so late, Old Sam steals out And hunts about For charms that hoodoos hate! That from the moaning river And from the haunted glen He silently brings what eerie things Give peace to hoodooed men:-- The tongue of a piebald 'possum, The tooth of a senile '****, The buzzard's breath that smells of death, And the film that lies On a lizard's eyes In the light of a midnight moon!
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Ballad Of How Macpherson Held The Floor

 Said President MacConnachie to Treasurer MacCall:
"We ought to have a piper for our next Saint Andrew's Ball.
Yon squakin' saxophone gives me the syncopated gripes.
I'm sick of jazz, I want to hear the skirling of the pipes.
" "Alas! it's true," said Tam MacCall.
"The young folk of to-day Are fox-trot mad and dinna ken a reel from Strathspey.
Now, what we want's a kiltie lad, primed up wi' mountain dew, To strut the floor at supper time, and play a lilt or two.
In all the North there's only one; of him I've heard them speak: His name is Jock MacPherson, and he lives on Boulder Creek; An old-time hard-rock miner, and a wild and wastrel loon, Who spends his nights in glory, playing pibrochs to the moon.
I'll seek him out; beyond a doubt on next Saint Andrew's night We'll proudly hear the pipes to cheer and charm our appetite.
Oh lads were neat and lassies sweet who graced Saint Andrew's Ball; But there was none so full of fun as Treasurer MacCall.
And as Maloney's rag-time bank struck up the newest hit, He smiled a smile behind his hand, and chuckled: "Wait a bit.
" And so with many a Celtic snort, with malice in his eye, He watched the merry crowd cavort, till supper time drew nigh.
Then gleefully he seemed to steal, and sought the Nugget Bar, Wherein there sat a tartaned chiel, as lonely as a star; A huge and hairy Highlandman as hearty as a breeze, A glass of whisky in his hand, his bag-pipes on his knees.
"Drink down your doch and doris, Jock," cried Treasurer MacCall; "The time is ripe to up and pipe; they wait you in the hall.
Gird up your loins and grit your teeth, and here's a pint of hooch To mind you of your native heath - jist pit it in your pooch.
Play on and on for all you're worth; you'll shame us if you stop.
Remember you're of Scottish birth - keep piping till you drop.
Aye, though a bunch of Willie boys should bluster and implore, For the glory of the Highlands, lad, you've got to hold the floor.
" The dancers were at supper, and the tables groaned with cheer, When President MacConnachie exclaimed: "What do I hear? Methinks it's like a chanter, and its coming from the hall.
" "It's Jock MacPherson tuning up," cried Treasurer MacCall.
So up they jumped with shouts of glee, and gaily hurried forth.
Said they: "We never thought to see a piper in the North.
" Aye, all the lads and lassies braw went buzzing out like bees, And Jock MacPherson there they saw, with red and rugged knees.
Full six foot four he strode the floor, a grizzled son of Skye, With glory in his whiskers and with whisky in his eye.
With skelping stride and Scottish pride he towered above them all: "And is he no' a bonny sight?" said Treasurer MacCall.
While President MacConnachie was fairly daft with glee, And there was jubilation in the Scottish Commy-tee.
But the dancers seemed uncertain, and they signified their doubt, By dashing back to eat as fast as they had darted out.
And someone raised the question 'twixt the coffee and the cakes: "Does the Piper walk to get away from all the noise he makes?" Then reinforced with fancy food they slowly trickled forth, And watching in patronizing mood the Piper of the North.
Proud, proud was Jock MacPherson, as he made his bag-pipes skirl, And he set his sporran swinging, and he gave his kilts a whirl.
And President MacConnachie was jumping like a flea, And there was joy and rapture in the Scottish Commy-tee.
"Jist let them have their saxophones wi' constipated squall; We're having Heaven's music now," said Treasurer MacCall.
But the dancers waxed impatient, and they rather seemed to fret For Maloney and the jazz of his Hibernian Quartette.
Yet little recked the Piper, as he swung with head on high, Lamenting with MacCrimmon on the heather hills of Skye.
With Highland passion in his heart he held the centre floor; Aye, Jock MacPherson played as he had never played before.
Maloney's Irish melodists were sitting in their place, And as Maloney waited, there was wonder in his face.
'Twas sure the gorgeous music - Golly! wouldn't it be grand If he could get MacPherson as a member of his band? But the dancers moped and mumbled, as around the room they sat: "We paid to dance," they grumbled; "But we cannot dance to that.
Of course we're not denying that it's really splendid stuff; But it's mighty satisfying - don't you think we've had enough?" "You've raised a pretty problem," answered Treasurer MacCall; "For on Saint Andrew's Night, ye ken, the Piper rules the Ball.
" Said President MacConnachie: "You've said a solemn thing.
Tradition holds him sacred, and he's got to have his fling.
But soon, no doubt, he'll weary out.
Have patience; bide a wee.
" "That's right.
Respect the Piper," said the Scottish Commy-tee.
And so MacPherson stalked the floor, and fast the moments flew, Till half an hour went past, as irritation grew and grew.
Then the dancers held a council, and with faces fiercely set, They hailed Maloney, heading his Hibernian Quartette: "It's long enough, we've waited.
Come on, Mike, play up the Blues.
" And Maloney hesitated, but he didn't dare refuse.
So banjo and piano, and guitar and saxophone Contended with the shrilling of the chanter and the drone; And the women's ears were muffled, so infernal was the din, But MacPherson was unruffled, for he knew that he would win.
Then two bright boys jazzed round him, and they sought to play the clown, But MacPherson jolted sideways, and the Sassenachs went down.
And as if it was a signal, with a wild and angry roar, The gates of wrath were riven - yet MacPherson held the floor.
Aye, amid the rising tumult, still he strode with head on high, With ribbands gaily streaming, yet with battle in his eye.
Amid the storm that gathered, still he stalked with Highland pride, While President and Treasurer sprang bravely to his side.
And with ire and indignation that was glorious to see, Around him in a body ringed the Scottish Commy-tee.
Their teeth were clenched with fury; their eyes with anger blazed: "Ye manna touch the Piper," was the slogan that they raised.
Then blows were struck, and men went down; yet 'mid the rising fray MacPherson towered in triumph - and he never ceased to play.
Alas! his faithful followers were but a gallant few, And faced defeat, although they fought with all the skill they knew.
For President MacConnachie was seen to slip and fall, And o'er his prostrate body stumbled Treasurer MacCall.
And as their foes with triumph roared, and leagured them about, It looked as if their little band would soon be counted out.
For eyes were black and noses red, yet on that field of gore, As resolute as Highland rock - MacPherson held the floor.
Maloney watched the battle, and his brows were bleakly set, While with him paused and panted his Hibernian Quartette.
For sure it is an evil spite, and breaking to the heart, For Irishman to watch a fight and not be taking part.
Then suddenly on high he soared, and tightened up his belt: "And shall we see them crush," he roared, "a brother and a Celt? A fellow artiste needs our aid.
Come on, boys, take a hand.
" Then down into the mêlée dashed Maloney and his band.
Now though it was Saint Andrew's Ball, yet men of every race, That bow before the Great God Jazz were gathered in that place.
Yea, there were those who grunt: "Ya! Ya!" and those who squeak: "We! We!" Likewise Dutch, Dago, Swede and Finn, Polack and Portugee.
Yet like ripe grain before the gale that national hotch-potch Went down before the fury of the Irish and the Scotch.
Aye, though they closed their gaping ranks and rallied to the fray, To the Shamrock and the Thistle went the glory of the day.
You should have seen the carnage in the drooling light of dawn, Yet 'mid the scene of slaughter Jock MacPherson playing on.
Though all lay low about him, yet he held his head on high, And piped as if he stood upon the caller crags of Skye.
His face was grim as granite, and no favour did he ask, Though weary were his mighty lungs and empty was his flask.
And when a fallen foe wailed out: "Say! when will you have done?" MacPherson grinned and answered: "Hoots! She's only ha'f begun.
" Aye, though his hands were bloody, and his knees were gay with gore, A Grampian of Highland pride - MacPherson held the floor.
And still in Yukon valleys where the silent peaks look down, They tell of how the Piper was invited up to town, And he went in kilted glory, and he piped before them all, But wouldn't stop his piping till he busted up the Ball.
Of that Homeric scrap they speak, and how the fight went on, With sally and with rally till the breaking of the dawn.
And how the Piper towered like a rock amid the fray, And the battle surged about him, but he never ceased to play.
Aye, by the lonely camp-fires, still they tell the story o'er- How the Sassenach was vanquished and - MacPherson held the floor.
Written by Duncan Campbell Scott | Create an image from this poem

Ode for the Keats Centenary

 The Muse is stern unto her favoured sons,
Giving to some the keys of all the joy
Of the green earth, but holding even that joy
Back from their life;
Bidding them feed on hope,
A plant of bitter growth,
Deep-rooted in the past;
Truth, 'tis a doubtful art
To make Hope sweeten
Time as it flows;
For no man knows
Until the very last,
Whether it be a sovereign herb that he has eaten,
Or his own heart.
O stern, implacable Muse, Giving to Keats so richly dowered, Only the thought that he should be Among the English poets after death; Letting him fade with that expectancy, All powerless to unfold the future! What boots it that our age has snatched him free From thy too harsh embrace, Has given his fame the certainty Of comradeship with Shakespeare's? He lies alone Beneath the frown of the old Roman stone And the cold Roman violets; And not our wildest incantation Of his most sacred lines, Nor all the praise that sets Towards his pale grave, Like oceans towards the moon, Will move the Shadow with the pensive brow To break his dream, And give unto him now One word! -- When the young master reasoned That our puissant England Reared her great poets by neglect, Trampling them down in the by-paths of Life And fostering them with glory after death, Did any flame of triumph from his own fame Fall swift upon his mind; the glow Cast back upon the bleak and aching air Blown around his days -- ? Happily so! But he, whose soul was mighty as the soul Of Milton, who held the vision of the world As an irradiant orb self-filled with light, Who schooled his heart with passionate control To compass knowledge, to unravel the dense Web of this tangled life, he would weigh slight As thistledown blown from his most fairy fancy That pale self-glory, against the mystery, The wonder of the various world, the power Of "seeing great things in loneliness.
" Where bloodroot in the clearing dwells Along the edge of snow; Where, trembling all their trailing bells, The sensitive twinflowers blow; Where, searching through the ferny breaks, The moose-fawns find the springs; Where the loon laughs and diving takes Her young beneath her wings; Where flash the fields of arctic moss With myriad golden light; Where no dream-shadows ever cross The lidless eyes of night; Where, cleaving a mountain storm, the proud Eagles, the clear sky won, Mount the thin air between the loud Slow thunder and the sun; Where, to the high tarn tranced and still No eye has ever seen, Comes the first star its flame to chill In the cool deeps of green; -- Spirit of Keats, unfurl thy wings, Far from the toil and press, Teach us by these pure-hearted things, Beauty in loneliness.
Where, in the realm of thought, dwell those Who oft in pain and penury Work in the void, Searching the infinite dark between the stars, The infinite little of the atom, Gathering the tears and terrors of this life, Distilling them to a medicine for the soul; (And hated for their thought Die for it calmly; For not their fears, Nor the cold scorn of men, Fright them who hold to truth:) They brood alone in the intense serene Air of their passion, Until on some chill dawn Breaks the immortal form foreshadowed in their dream, And the distracted world and men Are no more what they were.
Spirit of Keats, unfurl thy deathless wings, Far from the wayward toil, the vain excess, Teach us by such soul-haunting things Beauty in loneliness.
The minds of men grow numb, their vision narrows, The clogs of Empire and the dust of ages, The lust of power that fogs the fairest pages, Of the romance that eager life would write, These war on Beauty with their spears and arrows.
But still is Beauty and of constant power; Even in the whirl of Time's most sordid hour, Banished from the great highways, Afflighted by the tramp of insolent feet, She hangs her garlands in the by-ways; Lissome and sweet Bending her head to hearken and learn Melody shadowed with melody, Softer than shadow of sea-fern, In the green-shadowed sea: Then, nourished by quietude, And if the world's mood Change, she may return Even lovelier than before.
-- The white reflection in the mountain lake Falls from the white stream Silent in the high distance; The mirrored mountains guard The profile of the goddess of the height, Floating in water with a curve of crystal light; When the air, envious of the loveliness, Rushes downward to surprise, Confusion plays in the contact, The picture is overdrawn With ardent ripples, But when the breeze, warned of intrusion, Draws breathless upward in flight, The vision reassembles in tranquillity, Reforming with a gesture of delight, Reborn with the rebirth of calm.
Spirit of Keats, lend us thy voice, Breaking like surge in some enchanted cave On a dream-sea-coast, To summon Beauty to her desolate world.
For Beauty has taken refuge from our life That grew too loud and wounding; Beauty withdraws beyond the bitter strife, Beauty is gone, (Oh where?) To dwell within a precinct of pure air Where moments turn to months of solitude; To live on roots of fern and tips of fern, On tender berries flushed with the earth's blood.
Beauty shall stain her feet with moss And dye her cheek with deep nut-juices, Laving her hands in the pure sluices Where rainbows are dissolved.
Beauty shall view herself in pools of amber sheen Dappled with peacock-tints from the green screen That mingles liquid light with liquid shadow.
Beauty shall breathe the fairy hush With the chill orchids in their cells of shade, And hear the invocation of the thrush That calls the stars into their heaven, And after even Beauty shall take the night into her soul.
When the thrill voice goes crying through the wood, (Oh, Beauty, Beauty!) Troubling the solitude With echoes from the lonely world, Beauty will tremble like a cloistered thing That hears temptation in the outlands singing, Will steel her dedicated heart and breathe Into her inner ear to firm her vow: -- "Let me restore the soul that ye have marred.
O mortals, cry no more on Beauty, Leave me alone, lone mortals, Until my shaken soul comes to its own, Lone mortals, leave me alone!" (Oh Beauty, Beauty, Beauty!) All the dim wood is silent as a dream That dreams of silence.