Emily Pauline Johnson

(10 March 1861 – 7 March 1913 / Chiefswood, Ontario)

The Archers - Poem by Emily Pauline Johnson

I

Stripped to the waist, his copper-coloured skin
Red from the smouldering heat of hate within,
Lean as a wolf in winter, fierce of mood--
As all wild things that hunt for foes, or food--
War paint adorning breast and thigh and face,
Armed with the ancient weapons of his race,
A slender ashen bow, deer sinew strung,
And flint-tipped arrow each with poisoned tongue,--
Thus does the Red man stalk to death his foe,
And sighting him strings silently his bow,
Takes his unerring aim, and straight and true
The arrow cuts in flight the forest through,
A flint which never made for mark and missed,
And finds the heart of his antagonist.
Thus has he warred and won since time began,
Thus does the Indian bring to earth his man.

II

Ungarmented, save for a web that lies
In fleecy folds across his impish eyes,
A tiny archer takes his way intent
On mischief, which is his especial bent.
Across his shoulder lies a quiver, filled
With arrows dipped in honey, thrice distilled
From all the roses brides have ever worn
Since that first wedding out of Eden born.
Beneath a cherub face and dimpled smile
This youthful hunter hides a heart of guile;
His arrows aimed at random fly in quest
Of lodging-place within some blameless breast.
But those he wounds die happily, and so
Blame not young Cupid with his dart and bow:
Thus has he warred and won since time began,
Transporting into Heaven both maid and man.


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Read poems about / on: wedding, red, food, hate, winter, war, smile, heaven, death, time, heart, hunting, rose



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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