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Shawondasee -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Guest poem submitted by Lisa:
(Poem #1669) Shawondasee
 Shawondasee, fat and lazy,
 Had his dwelling far to southward
 In the drowsy, dreamy sunshine,
 In the never-ending Summer.
 He it was who sent the wood-birds,
 Sent the robin, the Opechee,
 Sent the bluebird, the Owaissa,
 Sent the Shawshaw, sent the swallow,
 Sent the wild-goose, Wawa, northward,
 Sent the melons and tobacco,
 And the grapes in purple clusters.

 From his pipe the smoke ascending
 Filled the sky with haze and vapor,
 Filled the air with dreamy softness,
 Gave a twinkle to the water,
 Touched the rugged hills with smoothness,
 Brought the tender Indian Summer
 To the melancholy north-land,
 In the dreary Mood of Snow-shoes.

 Listless, careless Shawondasee!
 In his life he had one shadow,
 In his heart one sorrow had he.
 Once, as he was gazing northward,
 Far away upon a prairie
 He beheld a maiden standing,
 Saw a tall and slender maiden
 All alone upon a prairie ;
 Brightest green were all her garments,
 And her hair was like the sunshine.

 Day by day he gazed upon her,
 Day by day he sighed with passion,
 Day by day his heart within him
 Grew more hot with love and longing
 For the maid with yellow tresses.
 But he was too fat and lazy
 To bestir himself and woo her.
 Yes, too indolent and easy
 To pursue her and persuade her;
 So he only gazed upon her,
 Only sat and sighed with passion
 For the maiden of the prairie.

 Till one morning, looking northward,
 He beheld her yellow tresses
 Changed and covered o'er with whiteness,
 Covered as with whitest snow-flakes.
 "Ah! my brother from the North-land,
 From the kingdom of Wabasso,
 From the land of the White Rabbit!
 You have stolen the maiden from me,
 You have laid your hand upon her,
 You have wooed and won my maiden,
 With your stories of the North-land!"

 Thus the wretched Shawondasee
 Breathed into the air his sorrow;
 And the South-Wind o'er the prairie
 Wandered warm with sighs of passion,
 With the sighs of Shawondasee,
 Till the air seemed full of snow-flakes,
 Full of thistle-down the prairie,
 And the maid with hair like sunshine
 Vanished from his sight forever;
 Never more did Shawondasee
 See the maid with yellow tresses!

 Poor, deluded Shawondasee!
 'Twas no woman that you gazed at,
 'Twas no maiden that you sighed for,
 'Twas the prairie dandelion
 That through all the dreamy Summer
 You had gazed at with such longing,
 You had sighed for with such passion,
 And had puffed away forever,
 Blown into the air with sighing.
 Ah! deluded Shawondasee!
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Other exerpts from the epic poem "The Song of Hiawatha" have appeared here
before.  But I adore this little vignette about the South Wind.  Such a
wonderful description, and such a tragic (yet humorous) romance too!  Plus,
the meter is amazing.  This poem begs to be read aloud.  I've read this
particular passage to my husband three times this evening.

Okay, I admit, I was led here by the reference to it in Spiderman 2.  But it
fits well with my latest interest in epic poetry, and now I'm in the middle
of Hiawatha, enjoying every syllable.


40 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Mike said...

I don't know what to say because my father used to do those kind of poems when he was a young man it was the way my mother fell in love with my mother.

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