West Wind Blow From Your Prairie Nest

THE SONG MY PADDLE SINGS
Pauline Johnson (Mohawk)

West wind, blow from your prairie nest, 
Blow from the mountains, blow from the west 
The sail is idle, the sailor too; 
O! wind of the west, we wait for you. 

Blow, blow! 
I have wooed you so, 
But never a favor you bestow. 
You rock your cradle the hills between, 
But scorn to notice my white lateen.

I stow the sail, unship the mast: 
I wooed you long but my wooing’s past; 
My paddle will lull you into rest. 
O! drowsy wind of the drowsy west, 
Sleep, sleep, 
By your mountain steep, 
Or down where the prairie grasses sweep! 
Now fold in slumber your laggard wings, 
For soft is the song my paddle sings.

August is laughing across the sky, 
Laughing while paddle, canoe and I, 
Drift, drift, 
Where the hills uplift 
On either side of the current swift.

The river rolls in its rocky bed; 
My paddle is plying its way ahead; 
Dip, dip, 
While the waters flip
In foam as over their breast we slip.

And oh, the river runs swifter now; 
The eddies circle about my bow. 
Swirl, swirl! 
How the ripples curl 
In many a dangerous pool awhirl!

And forward far the rapids roar, 
Fretting their margin for evermore. 
Dash, dash, 
With a mighty crash, 
They seethe, and boil, and bound, and splash.
 
Be strong, O paddle! be brave, canoe! 
The reckless waves you must plunge into.
Reel, reel. 
On your trembling keel, 
But never a fear my craft will feel. 

We’ve raced the rapid, we’re far ahead! 
The river slips through its silent bed. 
Sway, sway, 
As the bubbles spray 
And fall in tinkling tunes away.

And up on the hills against the sky, 
A fir tree rocking its lullaby, 
Swings, swings, 
Its emerald wings, 
Swelling the song that my paddle sings.

PAGAN POETRY
Katja Šulc after Zitkála-Šá (Dakota)

when the spirit swells my breast,,
I love to roam among the green hills,
or sometimes, marvel at the great blue
with half closed eyes I watch the cloud shadows
while into my ear ripple sweet, soft cadences of the river’s song
my heart and I lie small upon the earth

I seek the level lands where grow the wild prairie flowers grow
they, the lovely little folk, soothe my soul with perfumed breath
beautiful is the spiritual essence they embody
I leave them nodding in the breeze
I pause to rest me upon a rock

Yellow Breast,
breaking off the clear crystal song
eyeing me wisely, as I plod with moccasined feet
he fills the summer sky with swift, sweet melody  

I prefer my excursions into the natural gardens
where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard
in the twittering of birds
the rippling of mighty waters
and the sweet breathing of flowers
If this is Paganism
then at present, at least
I am a Pagan
 
as the night comes, gently falling
down on rivers, trees and fields
I lay down beneath the flowers
and I lull myself to sleep
and I dream of these beautiful places
where prayers are put into land
where the Spirit guides the people
where they listen, listen to the plants
 
STILL THIS LOVE GOES ON
Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree)
 
Sat beside a beaver dam and watched the winter grow
Ice was hard with little tracks appearing on the snow
Fog is in the valley now and all the geese have gone
Cross the moon I saw them go and
Still this love goes on and on
Still this love goes on
 
Once I saw the summer flowers turn the fields to sun
Up and down the mountainside I watched the summer run
Now the fields are muffled in white and snow is on the dawn
Morning comes on shivering wings and
Still this love goes on and on
Still this love goes on
 
In every dream I can smell the sweetgrass burning
And in my heart I can hear the drum
And hear the singers soaring
And see the jingle dancers
And still this love goes on and on
Still this love goes on
 
Fancy Dancer come up north to see some friends of his
Fell in love in a powwow town and you know how that is
Beaded girls and painted ponies turn your life around
And now you’re singing, “Ke sakihiten”
On and on
On and on
On and on
On and on and
On and on and
On and on and
On and on and on
 
INKPATA/KALETAKAM
traditional (Lakota) / Dal’Suhu ‘Star’ Not-Afraid (Hopi)
 
Inkpata nawajin     I am standing on a top of the hill
Sina cicoze            waiving my shawl at you
Maya maya            to come back, come back
Leci ku wana         here to me, now
 
THE MARRIAGE DANCE
traditonal (Blackfeet)
 
I weave my blanket red,
I weave my blanket blue,
I weave my blanket all my life
Until I come to you.
 
I bring my blanket red,
I bring my blanket blue,
They are the story of the wife
The gray chief sold to you.
 
I spread my blanket red,
I spread my blanket blue,
I spread my blankets for your bed,
We now belong to you.
 
 
SONG OF THE CHOCTAW GIRL
Peter Pitchlynn (Choctaw)
 
I’m looking on the mountain,
I’m gazing o’er the plain;
I love the friends around me,
But wish for home again!
 
I hear their tones of kindness,
They soothe my every pain;
I know they love me truly –
I wish for home again!
 
My mother’s grave is yonder,
And there it must remain;
My father’s care is tender,
I wish for home again!
 
My sister’s and my brothers –
Alas! it may be vain,
This longing for beloved ones –
I wish for home again.
 
O, take me to my Nation,
And let me there remain;
This other world is strange, strange –
I wish for home again!
 
Give me the western forest –
The mountain, stream and plain.
The shaded lawns of childhood –
Give me my home again!
The free breeze of the prairie,
The wild bird’s joyous strain,
The tree my father planted –
O, take me home again!
 
The sunshine and the flowers,
My mother’s grave again,
Give me my race and kindred –
O, take me home again!
 
TO THE PINE TREE
Jane Jonhston Schoolcraft (Ojibwa)
 
The pine! The pine! I eager cried,
The pine, my father! see it stand,
As first that cherished tree I spied,
Returning to my native land.
The pine! the pine! oh lovely scene!
The pine, that is forever green.
 
Ah beauteous tree! ah happy sight!
That greets me on my native strand
And hails me, with a friend’s delight,
To my own dear bright mother land
Oh ‘tis to me a heart-sweet scene,
The pine – the pine! that’s ever green.
 
Not all the trees of England bright,
Not Erin’s lawns of green and light
Are half so sweet to memory’s eye,
As this dear type of northern sky
Oh ‘tis to me a heart-sweet scene,
The pine – the pine! that ever green.
 
REMEMBER
Joy Harjo (Muscogee)
 
Remember the sky you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people are you.
Remember you are this universe and this universe is you.
 
Remember the sky, remember the earth,
Remember the sun, remember the moon.
Remember your birth, your death, too.
Remember, remember.
Remember your father, remember your mother.
You are this Earth, this earth is you.
 
 
FEMALE RAIN
Laura Tohe (Dine)
 
Female rain
dancing from the south
cloudy cool and gray
pregnant with rain child
 
At dawn she gives birth to a gentle mist
flowers bow with wet sustenance
luminescence all around
 
 
THE IRIS OF LIFE
Zitkála-Šá (Dakota)
Like tiny drops of crystal rain,
       In every life the moments fall,
To wear away with silent beat,
       The shell of selfishness o’er all.
And every act, not one too small,
       That leaps from out the heart’s pure glow,
Like ray of gold sends forth a light,
       While moments into seasons flow.
Athwart the dome, Eternity,
       To Iris grown resplendent, fly
Bright gleams from every noble deed,
       Till colors with each other vie.
’Tis glimpses of this grand rainbow,
       Where moments with good deeds unite,
That gladden many weary hearts,
       Inspiring them to seek more Light.