An Indian Love Song

- 1870-1927

Light o’ the lodge, how I love thee,
Light o’ the lodge, how I love thee,
         Mianza, my wild-wood fawn!
To wait and to watch for thy passing.
          On hill-top I linger at dawn.

Glimmer of morn, how I love thee, 
Glimmer of morn, how I love thee! 
      My flute to the ground now I fling,
      As you tread the steep trail to the spring,
For thy coming has silenced my song.

Shimmer of moon on the river,
Sheen of soft star on the lake!
     Moonlight and starlight are naught;
     Their gleam and their glow is ne’er fraught
With such love-light as falls from thine eyes.

A Song of a Navajo Weaver

For ages long, my people have been 
     Dwellers in this land;
For ages viewed these mountains,
     Loved these mesas and these sands,
That stretch afar and glisten,
     Glimmering in the sun
As it lights the mighty canons
     Ere the weary day is done.
Shall I, a patient dweller in this
     Land of fair blue skies,
Tell something of their story while
     My shuttle swiftly flies?
As I weave I’ll trace their journey,
     Devious, rough and wandering,
Ere they reached the silent region
     Where the night stars seem to sing.
When the myriads of them glitter
     Over peak and desert waste,
Crossing which the silent runner and
     The gaunt of co-yo-tees haste.
Shall I weave the zig-zag pathway
     Whence the sacred fire was born;
And interweave the symbol of the God
     Who brought the corn—
Of the Rain-god whose fierce anger
     Was appeased by sacred meal,
And the trust that my brave people
     In him evermore shall feel?
All this perhaps I might weave
     As the woof goes to and fro,
Wafting as my shuttle passes,
     Humble hopes, and joys and care,
Weaving closely, weaving slowly,
     While I watch the pattern grow;
Showing something of my life:
     To the Spirit God a prayer.
Grateful that he brought my people
     To the land of silence vast
Taught them arts of peace and ended
     All their wanderings of the past.
Deftly now I trace the figures,
     This of joy and that of woe;
And I leave an open gate-way
     For the Dau to come and go.

A Mojave Lullaby 

Sleep, my little man-child, 
Dream-time to you has come. 

In the closely matted branches
Of the mesquite tree, 
The mother-bird has nestled 
Her little ones; see 
From the ghost-hills of your fathers, 
Purpling shadows eastward crawl, 
While beyond the western sky-tints pale 
As twilight spreads its pall. 

The eastern hills are lighted, 
See their sharp peaks burn and glow, 
With the colors the Great Sky-Chief 
Gave your father for his bow. 
Hush my man-child; be not frighted, 
'Tis the father's step draws nigh. 
O'er the trail along the river, 
Where the arrow-weeds reach high 
Above his dark head, see 
He parts them with his strong hands, 
As he steps forth into view. 
He is coming home to mother, 
Home to mother and to you. 
 
Sleep my little man-child, 
Daylight has gone. 
There's no twitter in the branches, 
Dream-time has come. 

A Desert Memory

Lonely, open, vast and free,
The dark’ning desert lies;
The wind sweeps o’er it fiercely,
And the yellow sand flies.
The tortuous trail is hidden,
Ere the sand-storm has passed
With all its wild, mad shriekings,
Borne shrilly on its blast.

Are they fiends or are they demons
That wail weirdly as they go,
Those hoarse and dismal cadences,
From out their depths of woe?
Will they linger and enfold
The lone trav’ler in their spell,

Weave ‘round him incantations,
Brewed and bro’t forth from their hell?
Bewilder him and turn him
From the rugged, hidden trail,
Make him wander far and falter,
And tremblingly quail
At the desert and the loneliness
So fearful and so grim,
That to his fervid fancy,
Wraps in darkness only him?

The wind has spent its fierce wild wail,
    The dark storm-pall has shifted,
Forth on his sight the stars gleam pale
    In the purpling haze uplifted.

And down the steep trail, as he lists,
    He hears soft music stealing;
It trembling falls through filmy mists,
    From rock-walls faint echoes pealing.

Whence comes this mystic night-song
With its rhythm wild and free,
With is pleading and entreaty
Pouring forth upon the sea
Of darkness, vast and silent,
Like a tiny ray of hope
That oft-times comes to comfort
When in sorrow’s depths we grope?

’Tis the An-gu, the Kat-ci-na,
’Tis the Hopi’s song of prayer,

That in darkness wards off danger,
When ’tis breathed in the air;
Over desert, butte, and mesa,
It is borne out on the night,
Dispelling fear and danger,
Driving evil swift a-flight.

Related Poems

Morning on Shinnecock

The rising sun had crowned the hills,
            And added beauty to the plain;
O grand and wondrous spectacle!
            That only nature could explain.

I stood within a leafy grove,
            And gazed around in blissful awe;
The sky appeared one mass of blue,
            That seemed to spread from sea to shore.

Far as the human eye could see,
            Were stretched the fields of waving corn.
Soft on my ear the warbling birds
            Were heralding the birth of morn.

While here and there a cottage quaint
            Seemed to repose in quiet ease
Amid the trees, whose leaflets waved
            And fluttered in the passing breeze.

O morning hour! so dear thy joy,
            And how I longed for thee to last;
But e’en thy fading into day
            Brought me an echo of the past.

 ‘Twas this,—how fair my life began;
            How pleasant was its hour of dawn;
But, merging into sorrow’s day,
            Then beauty faded with the morn.

Songs of the Spavinaw

I am the river of Spavinaw,
    I am the river of pain;
Sadness and gladness must answer my law;
Measure for measure I give, and withdraw
Back through the hills of the Spavinaw,
    Hiding away from the plain.

I am the river of Spavinaw;
    I sing the songs of the world;
Dashing and whirling, swishing and swirling,
Delicate, mystical, silvery spray hurling,
    Sing I the songs of the world,
    The passionate songs of the world.

I sing of laughter and mirth,
    And I laugh in a gurgle of glee
As the myriad joys of the earth
    Trip through the light with me.
Gay shallows dimple, sparkle and ripple.
    Like songs that a lover would sing,
      Skipping in moonlight,
      Tripping in moonlight,
    Whispering echoes of spring.

And again
    I move with the slow sadness of pain.
In my dark blue deep, where the shadows creep,
    I catch up life’s sorrows and mirror them back again.
And my song is a throbbing, pitiful sobbing,
    Choked by an agonized pain.

And then
    I move forth toward the beckoning north,
       And I sing of the power of men.
           As I dash down my falls,
           As I beat at my walls
Frantically fighting, running and righting,
All through the flood, through the snarling and biting,
       I sing of the power of men,
       Of the hurry and power of men.

       I am the river of Spavinaw,
       I am the giver of pain;
Sadness and gladness must answer my law;
Measure for measure I give, and withdraw
Back through the hills of the Spavinaw,
       Hiding away from the plain.

Palo Borracho

The jacaranda blooms beside the drunk stick tree.
Come. I see you swelling with nectar. Hear you,
Venteveos, shriek till night. Come. See me.
The jacaranda blooms beside the drunk stick tree.
The violent violet petals pollen weep.
A bichofeo sings of you with open throat and beak.
A jacaranda blooms beside the drunk stick tree.
I see you swell with nectar, hear you shriek.