William Henry Drummond

(13 April, 1854 – 6 April, 1907 / Mohill, County Leitrim)

The Windigo - Poem by William Henry Drummond

Go easy wit' de paddle, an' steady wit' de
oar
Geev rudder to de bes' man you got among
de crew,
Let ev'ry wan be quiet, don't let dem sing no
more
W'en you see de islan' risin' out of Grande
Lac Manitou
Above us on de sky dere, de summer cloud
may float
Aroun' us on de water de ripple never show,
But somet'ing down below us can rock de
stronges' boat,
W'en we 're comin' near de islan' of de
spirit Windigo!

De carcajou may breed dere, an' otter sweem
de poole
De moosh-rat mak' de mud house, an' beaver
buil' hees dam
An' beeges' Injun hunter on all de Tête de
Boule
Will never set hees trap dere from spring
to summer tam.

But he 'll bring de fines' presen' from upper
St. Maurice
De loup marin an' black-fox from off de
Hodson Bay
An' hide dem on de islan' an' smoke de pipe
of peace
So Windigo will help heem w'en he travel
far away.

We shaintee on dat islan' on de winter seexty-
nine
If you look you see de clearin' aroun' de
Coo Coo Cache,
An' pleasan' place enough too among de spruce
an' pine
If foreman on de shaintee is n't Cyprien
Palache.

Beeg feller, alway watchin' on hees leetle
weasel eye,
De gang dey can't do not'ing but he see dem
purty quick
Wit' hees 'Hi dere, w'at you doin' ?' ev'ry
tam he 's passin' by
An' de bad word he was usin' , wall! it offen
mak' me sick.

An' he carry silver w'issle wit' de chain aroun'
hees neck
For fear he mebbe los' it, an' ev'ry body say
He mus' buy it from de devil w'en he 's
passin' on Kebeck
But if it 's true dat story, I dunno how
moche he pay.

Dere 's plaintee on de shaintee can sing lak
rossignol
Pet Clancy play de fiddle, an' Jimmie Char-
bonneau
Was bring hees concertina from below St.
Fereol
So we get some leetle pleasure till de long,
long winter go.

But if we start up singin' affer supper on de
camp
'Par derriere chez ma tante,' or 'Mattawa
wishtay,'
De boss he 'll come along den, an' put heem
out de lamp,
An' only stop hees swearin' w'en we all go
marche coucher.

We 've leetle boy dat winter from Po-po-lo-be-
lang
Hees fader an' hees moder dey're bote
A-ben-a-kee
An' he 's comin' , Injun Johnnie, wit' some
man de lumber gang
Was fin' heem nearly starvin' above on Lac
Souris.

De ole man an' de woman is tryin' pass de Soo
W'en water 's high on spring tam, an' of
course dey 're gettin' drown',
For even smartes' Injun should n't fool wit'
birch canoe,
W'ere de reever lak toboggan on de hill is
runnin' down.

So dey lef' de leetle feller all alone away up
dere
Till lumber gang is ketchin' him an' bring
him on de Cache,
But better if he 's stayin' wit' de wolf an' wit'
de bear
Dan come an' tak' hees chances wit' Cyprien
Palache.

I wonder how he stan' it, w'y he never run
away
For Cyprien lak neeger he is treat heem all
de sam'
An' if he 's wantin' Johnnie on de night or on
de day
God help heem if dat w'issle she was below
de secon'tam!

De boy he don 't say not'ing, no wan never see
heem cry
He 's got de Injun in heem, you can see it
on de face,
An' only for us feller an' de cook, he 'll surely
die
Long before de winter 's over, long before
we lef' de place,

But I see heem hidin' somet'ing wan morning
by de shore
So firse tam I was passin' I scrape away de
snow
An' it 's rabbit skin he 's ketchin' on de swamp
de day before,
Leetle Injun Johnnie 's workin' on de spirit
Windigo.

December's come in stormy, an' de snow-dreef
fill de road
Can only see de chimley an' roof of our
cabane,
An' stronges' team on stable fin' it plaintee
heavy load
Haulin' sleigh an' two t'ree pine log t'roo
de wood an' beeg savane.

An' I travel off wan day me, wit' Cyprien
Palache
Explorin' for new timber, w'en de win' be-
gin to blow,
So we hurry on de snow-shoe for de camp on
Coo Coo Cache
If de nor' eas' storm is comin', was de bes'
place we dunno-

An' we 're gettin' safe enough dere wit' de
storm close on our heel,
But w'en our belt we loosen for takin' off de
coat
De foreman commence screamin' an' mon Dieu
it mak' us feel
Lak he got t'ree t'ousan' devil all fightin' on
hees t'roat.

Cyprien is los' hees w'issle, Cyprien is los' hees
chain
Injun Johnnie he mus' fin' it, even if de win'
is high

He can never show hese'f on de Coo Coo
Cache again
Till he bring dat silver w'issle an' de chain
it 's hangin' by.

So he sen' heem on hees journey never knowin'
he come back
T'roo de rough an' stormy wedder, t'roo de
pile of dreefin' snow
'Wat 's de use of bein' Injun if you can 't
smell out de track?'
Dat 's de way de boss is talkin' , an' poor
Johnnie have to go.

If you want to hear de musique of de nort' win'
as it blow
An' lissen to the hurricane an' learn de way
it sing
An' feel how small de man is w'en he 's
leevin' here below,
You should try it on de shaintee w'en she 's
doin' all dem t'ing!

W'at 's dat soun' lak somet'ing cryin' all
aroun' us ev'ryw'ere?
We never hear no tonder upon de winter
storm!
Dey 're shoutin' to each oder dem voices on
de air,
An' it 's red hot too de stove pipe, but no
wan 's feelin' warm!

'Get out an' go de woodpile before I freeze
to deat''
Cyprien de boss is yellin' an' he 's lookin'
cole an' w'ite
Lak dead man on de coffin, but no wan go,
you bet,
For if it 's near de woodpile, 't is n't close
enough to-night!

Non! we ain't afraid of not'ing, but we don 't
lak takin' chance,
An' w'en we hear de spirit of de wil' A-ben-
a-kee
Singin' war song on de chimley, makin' all dem
Injun dance
Raisin' row dere, you don't ketch us on no
woodpile -no siree!

O! de lonesome night we 're passin' w'ile
we 're stayin' on dat place!
An' ev'rybody sheever when Jimmie Char
bonneau
Say he 's watchin' on de winder an' he see de
Injun face
An' it 's lookin' so he tole us, jus' de sam'
as Windingo.

Den again mese'f I 'm hearin' somet'ing
callin', an' it soun'
Lak de voice of leetle Johnnie so I'm
passin' on de door

But de pine stump on de clearin' wit' de w'ite
sheet all aroun'
Mak' me t'ink of churchyar' tombstone, an'
I can't go dere no more.

Wat's de reason we 're so quiet w'ile our
heart she 's goin' fas'
W'y is no wan ax de question? dat we're
all afraid to spik?
Was it wing of flyin' wil' bird strek de winder
as it pass,
Or de sweesh of leetle snow-ball w'en de win'
is playin' trick?

W'en we buil' de Coo Coo shaintee, she's as
steady as a rock,
Did you feel de shaintee shakin' de sam,
she's goin' to fall?
Dere's somet'ing on de doorway! an' now we
hear de knock
An' up above de hurricane we hear de w'issle
call.

Callin', callin' lak a bugle, an' he's jompin' up
de boss
From hees warm bed on de corner an' open
wide de door-
Dere's no use foller affer for Cyprien is los'
An' de Coo Coo Cache an' shaintee he'll
never see no more.

At las' de morning's comin', an' storm is blow
away
An' outside on de shaintee young Jimmie
Charbonneau
He's seein' track of snowshoe, 'bout de size of
doulbe sleigh
Dere's no mistak' it's makin' by de spirit
Windigo.

An' de leetle Injuin Johnie, he's all right I
onderstan'
For you'll fin' heem up de reever above de
Coo Coo Cache
Ketchin' mink and ketchin' beaver, an' he's
growin' great beeg man
But dat's de las' we're hearin' of Cyprien
Palache.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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