After Reading The Song Of Hiawatha Poem by Effie Waller Smith

After Reading The Song Of Hiawatha

Bits of Indian superstitions
My books historical hold,
Fragments of tales and traditions,
Curious and strange and old.

I had read with awe and terror—
Those Indian tales so old—
Dull and horrid they seemed; no beauty
In them could I unfold,

Ere by chance I read the story
By our own dear poet told,
A story full of traditions,
An Indian legend old.

Longfellow, our peerless poet,
Your song's a full translation—
So plain and beautiful—of the
Historian's dull narration.

Oh, the fascinating beauty,
Straight from Nature's bounteous fold,
In this tale of Hiawatha,
In this legend strange and old.

It has brought me near to Nature;
I gaze o'er her boundless pale
And I see the new-sprung beauties
In this legendary tale.

I have smelled the breath of forests
In the springtime of the year,
And the bluebird's song has floated
From those forests to my ear.

I have heard the rush of rivers,
Heard the lake's majestic roar,
And on its bosom caught the splashing
Of Hiawatha's steady oar.

I have seen the smoke arising
From Hi'watha's wigwam small,
Heard with awe the owl and night-hawk
Plaintively at night-fall call.

I have seen the broad, dull prairies
Covered o'er with verdant grass,
Through the somber pines and fir-trees
I have heard the night-wind pass.

I have heard the panting deer leap
Wildly 'cross valleys narrow,
Followed close by Hiawatha,
With bow and sharpened arrow.

And I've seen the setting sun
Paint the western sky with red;
Seen the moon in yellow beauty
On the earth her radiance shed.

All of these I've seen and heard,—
Beauties from Nature's store,
In this tale of Hiawatha;—
All of these and many more.

I'd not thought such wondrous beauty
Could be made to be a part
Of an ancient Indian legend,
Woven in with wondrous art.

More of sunshine than of shadow,
More of perfect love than hate,
Beauty far exceeds the horrid,
Beauty, wonderful and great.

Oh, we may from Nature's beauties,
Where'er they be, thoughts lovely glean,
Though within them yet there may be
All that's ugly, horrid, mean.

You have taught me this, dear poet,
You have given all this and more,
Taught me to see with lib'ral eyes
What I could not see before.

Oh, that we with understanding
Liberally, unselfishly,
All the beauties, truths and mysteries
Everywhere about us see.

We would turn our eyes more often
From the lowly things away,
And our minds from ways of purity
Would not be so apt to stray.

No, we'd not be pointing always
At the things uncouth and low,
But the beauties that surround them,
To understand and know.

We would strive, and, daily striving,
We would grow more wise and good,
More generous, more unselfish,
Feasting on Nature's food.

E'en the things we think repulsive,
The things we can hardly bear,
When with gen'rous eyes we see them,
A garb of beauty they wear.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Topic(s) of this poem: beauty
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Effie Waller Smith

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