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bdNM
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Hiawatha: "Introduction, I: The Peace Pipe, II: The Four Winds

[ Edited ]

And now we begin...

I like the way the poem begins, with Longfellow's giving his poetic bona fides to tell the story:

"Should you ask me, whence these stories?" etc -- "I should answer, I should tell you,/'From the forests and the prairies,/from the great lakes of the Northland..." 

It is common in ancient epic to call up on the Muses to give weight and credence to the words of the poet.  Here Longfellow says the stories come from the land itself, and from the peoples.  In actuality, he got the meat of the matter from a scholarly treatment, and he gets it only at one remove, but that won't work for a poet.  He can't say, "I read it in a book somewhere..."

In the Peace-Pipe section, we get the peace-pipe personified -- a spirit that calls the native peoples to task for constant warfare.  The historical Hiawatha, who was one of the Iroquois people, was instrumental in bringing together the tribes of upstate New York and Eastern Canada into the Iroquois Confederacy, and he was known as a peace maker.  As these stories are set further west, there seems some confusion.

In the Four Winds, we get the birth of the four winds, starting with the heroic god, Mudjekeewis, who becomes associated with the West Wind, with the other winds under the control of his sons.  Just as in IE tradition, we have a god associated with the sky and the forces of nature about us.  Mudjekeewis will become Hiawatha's father, so we don't yet have him on the scene yet.

What do you think of the poem so far?  Is the rather steady rhythm a bit too much, or does it seem to fit the poem we have, and its story?

Dignity, always dignity.
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Peppermill
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Re: Hiawatha: The Peace Pipe

Some of you may have visited Pipestone, MN, where stone used for Indian peace pipes is quarried.

 

I have and also have the handiwork of one of the craftsmen framed and mounted in my library/office.  It is not one of those big, impressive sites to necessarily go out of one's way to visit, but, if one is in a meditative mode, one can almost have a sense of the Great Spirit's presence as one wanders about the outcroppings.

 

Here are a few links:

 

Pipekeepers at Pipestone, Minnesota

 

Various types of peacepipes.

 

The artistans

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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bdNM
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Re: Hiawatha: The Peace Pipe

Thanks for the links, P.

Dignity, always dignity.
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Peppermill
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Re: Hiawatha: "Introduction, I: The Peace Pipe, II: The Four Winds

I like the way the poem begins, with Longfellow's giving his poetic bona fides to tell the story:

"Should you ask me, whence these stories?" etc -- "I should answer, I should tell you,/'From the forests and the prairies,/from the great lakes of the Northland..." 


It is common in ancient epic to call up on the Muses to give weight and credence to the words of the poet.  Here Longfellow says the stories come from the land itself, and from the peoples.  In actuality, he got the meat of the matter from a scholarly treatment, and he gets it only at one remove, but that won't work for a poet.  He can't say, "I read it in a book somewhere..."

 

I do think, however, Longfellow is true to the spirit of Indian traditions in his designation of the source of these legends -- or else I have been brainwashed by what I have read about the relationship of most Native Americans with nature??  It seems very different to have the story sung by the bard (Nawadada) derive from the land and the animals than from gods, muses, and the exploits of men.  Is there a European epic with similar nature-driven derivation?

 

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 hoof-prints 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!"

 

The Song of Hiawatha, Introduction by Henry Longfellow

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Peppermill
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Re: Hiawatha: "Introduction, I: The Peace Pipe, II: The Four Winds

[ Edited ]

I didn't know what a plover looked like, so did a little search.

 

Found this rather sad slide show on the Atlantic plover, which may not be the variety referred to in the poem.

 

This site on the Semipalmated Plover includes an audio of the bird's song and links to sites on other types.

 

If I were to guess based on its summer breeding territory, the Piping Plover might be the one of our story.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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thewanderingjew
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Re: Hiawatha: The Peace Pipe

Thanks for that information. I wish I had known about Pipestone when I lived in Minnesota. My mom had to memorize the poem as a student and I have memories of her reciting parts of it. She loved it.

 

Peppermill wrote:

Some of you may have visited Pipestone, MN, where stone used for Indian peace pipes is quarried.

 

I have and also have the handiwork of one of the craftsmen framed and mounted in my library/office.  It is not one of those big, impressive sites to necessarily go out of one's way to visit, but, if one is in a meditative mode, one can almost have a sense of the Great Spirit's presence as one wanders about the outcroppings.

 

Here are a few links:

 

Pipekeepers at Pipestone, Minnesota

 

Various types of peacepipes.

 

The artistans

 

 

Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Hiawatha: The Peace Pipe

[ Edited ]

 

thewanderingjew wrote:

Thanks for that information. I wish I had known about Pipestone when I lived in Minnesota. My mom had to memorize the poem as a student and I have memories of her reciting parts of it. She loved it.

 

Peppermill wrote (excerpt):

 

TWJ - Pipestone is over close to the western border of Minnesota, so I am not certain it would have been worth the trip unless you had other reasons to pass close by.  Was Minnehaha Falls in repair at the time you were there?  I did think it also caught the flavor of the epic.  (I did an earlier post on those falls; I believe one of those links described the considerable repair that was being done to that park, but I haven't gone back to that post nor do I find the link on a quick Google search right now.)

 

 

Anyway, I just posted on the III-V thread a passage from Hiawatha's Childhood that would have been among the lines your mother learned and recited.  I think those are probably the ones I come closed to remembering after all these years, although I don't believe I ever actively memorized specific stanzas, let alone the entire poem.

 

It is interesting how easy Longfellow was to learn.  There are still lines from "The Courtship of Miles Standish" and from "Evangeline" that come back, too.

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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thewanderingjew
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Re: Hiawatha: The Peace Pipe

Thanks so much, Pepper. I just checked out your post and you are right, I can hear my mom saying it in my mind's eye right now and it warmed my heart. She was so proud of herself because she could recall it and recite it.

You are right about Longfellow too. The mere mention of the poems brought back pleasant memories of a time gone by. I wonder if modern day curriculums study poetry as completely or if it is now a totally elective subject. Education has changed so much.

I lived in Minnesota a long time ago, in the mid eighties. I can't believe how long ago it was. Time has really flown away. You brought me back to such happy memories. All of a sudden I could see the falls and I remembered walking there with my husband. Of all the places I have lived, I think Minnesota had the nicest people and the nicest lifestyle. People were so genuine and they seemed to appreciate life and not squander it.

 

Peppermill wrote:

 

thewanderingjew wrote:

Thanks for that information. I wish I had known about Pipestone when I lived in Minnesota. My mom had to memorize the poem as a student and I have memories of her reciting parts of it. She loved it.

 

Peppermill wrote (excerpt):

 

TWJ - Pipestone is over close to the western border of Minnesota, so I am not certain it would have been worth the trip unless you had other reasons to pass close by.  Was Minnehaha Falls in repair at the time you were there?  I did think it also caught the flavor of the epic.  (I did an earlier post on those falls; I believe one of those links described the considerable repair that was being done to that park, but I haven't gone back to that post nor do I find the link on a quick Google search right now.)

 

 

Anyway, I just posted on the III-V thread a passage from Hiawatha's Childhood that would have been among the lines your mother learned and recited.  I think those are probably the ones I come closed to remembering after all these years, although I don't believe I ever actively memorized specific stanzas, let alone the entire poem.

 

It is interesting how easy Longfellow was to learn.  There are still lines from "The Courtship of Miles Standish" and from "Evangeline" that come back, too.

 

Pepper