Poets | Bookstore | Poem of the Day | Top 40 | Search | Comments | Privacy
September 19th, 2014 - we have 234 poets, 8,025 poems and 278,943 comments.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - Hiawatha's Wooing

"As unto the bow the cord is, 
So unto the man is woman; 
Though she bends him, she obeys him, 
Though she draws him, yet she follows; 
Useless each without the other!"
Thus the youthful Hiawatha 
Said within himself and pondered, 
Much perplexed by various feelings, 
Listless, longing, hoping, fearing, 
Dreaming still of Minnehaha, 
Of the lovely Laughing Water, 
In the land of the Dacotahs.
"Wed a maiden of your people," 
Warning said the old Nokomis; 
"Go not eastward, go not westward, 
For a stranger, whom we know not! 
Like a fire upon the hearth-stone 
Is a neighbor's homely daughter, 
Like the starlight or the moonlight 
Is the handsomest of strangers!"
Thus dissuading spake Nokomis, 
And my Hiawatha answered 
Only this: "Dear old Nokomis,
Very pleasant is the firelight, 
But I like the starlight better, 
Better do I like the moonlight!"
Gravely then said old Nokomis: 
"Bring not here an idle maiden, 
Bring not here a useless woman, 
Hands unskilful, feet unwilling; 
Bring a wife with nimble fingers, 
Heart and hand that move together, 
Feet that run on willing errands!"
Smiling answered Hiawatha: 
'In the land of the Dacotahs 
Lives the Arrow-maker's daughter, 
Minnehaha, Laughing Water, 
Handsomest of all the women. 
I will bring her to your wigwam, 
She shall run upon your errands, 
Be your starlight, moonlight, firelight, 
Be the sunlight of my people!"
Still dissuading said Nokomis: 
"Bring not to my lodge a stranger 
From the land of the Dacotahs! 
Very fierce are the Dacotahs, 
Often is there war between us, 
There are feuds yet unforgotten, 
Wounds that ache and still may open!"
Laughing answered Hiawatha: 
"For that reason, if no other, 
Would I wed the fair Dacotah, 
That our tribes might be united, 
That old feuds might be forgotten, 
And old wounds be healed forever!"
Thus departed Hiawatha 
To the land of the Dacotahs, 
To the land of handsome women; 
Striding over moor and meadow, 
Through interminable forests, 
Through uninterrupted silence.
With his moccasins of magic, 
At each stride a mile he measured; 
Yet the way seemed long before him, 
And his heart outran his footsteps; 
And he journeyed without resting, 
Till he heard the cataract's laughter, 
Heard the Falls of Minnehaha 
Calling to him through the silence. 
"Pleasant is the sound!" he murmured, 
"Pleasant is the voice that calls me!"
On the outskirts of the forests, 
'Twixt the shadow and the sunshine, 
Herds of fallow deer were feeding, 
But they saw not Hiawatha; 
To his bow he whispered, "Fail not!"
To his arrow whispered, "Swerve not!" 
Sent it singing on its errand,
To the red heart of the roebuck; 
Threw the deer across his shoulder, 
And sped forward without pausing.
At the doorway of his wigwam 
Sat the ancient Arrow-maker, 
In the land of the Dacotahs,
Making arrow-heads of jasper,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony.
At his side, in all her beauty, 
Sat the lovely Minnehaha, 
Sat his daughter, Laughing Water, 
Plaiting mats of flags and rushes
Of the past the old man's thoughts were, 
And the maiden's of the future.
He was thinking, as he sat there, 
Of the days when with such arrows 
He had struck the deer and bison, 
On the Muskoday, the meadow; 
Shot the wild goose, flying southward 
On the wing, the clamorous Wawa; 
Thinking of the great war-parties,
How they came to buy his arrows, 
Could not fight without his arrows. 
Ah, no more such noble warriors 
Could be found on earth as they were! 
Now the men were all like women, 
Only used their tongues for weapons!
She was thinking of a hunter, 
From another tribe and country, 
Young and tall and very handsome, 
Who one morning, in the Spring-time, 
Came to buy her father's arrows, 
Sat and rested in the wigwam, 
Lingered long about the doorway, 
Looking back as he departed. 
She had heard her father praise him, 
Praise his courage and his wisdom; 
Would he come again for arrows 
To the Falls of Minnehaha?
On the mat her hands lay idle, 
And her eyes were very dreamy.
Through their thoughts they heard a footstep, 
Heard a rustling in the branches, 
And with glowing cheek and forehead, 
With the deer upon his shoulders, 
Suddenly from out the woodlands 
Hiawatha stood before them.
Straight the ancient Arrow-maker 
Looked up gravely from his labor, 
Laid aside the unfinished arrow, 
Bade him enter at the doorway, 
Saying, as he rose to meet him, 
'Hiawatha, you are welcome!"
At the feet of Laughing Water 
Hiawatha laid his burden, 
Threw the red deer from his shoulders; 
And the maiden looked up at him, 
Looked up from her mat of rushes,
Said with gentle look and accent, 
"You are welcome, Hiawatha!"
Very spacious was the wigwam, 
Made of deer-skins dressed and whitened, 
With the Gods of the Dacotahs 
Drawn and painted on its curtains, 
And so tall the doorway, hardly 
Hiawatha stooped to enter, 
Hardly touched his eagle-feathers 
As he entered at the doorway.
Then uprose the Laughing Water, 
From the ground fair Minnehaha, 
Laid aside her mat unfinished, 
Brought forth food and set before them, 
Water brought them from the brooklet, 
Gave them food in earthen vessels, 
Gave them drink in bowls of bass-wood, 
Listened while the guest was speaking, 
Listened while her father answered, 
But not once her lips she opened, 
Not a single word she uttered.
Yes, as in a dream she listened 
To the words of Hiawatha, 
As he talked of old Nokomis, 
Who had nursed him in his childhood, 
As he told of his companions, 
Chibiabos, the musician, 
And the very strong man, Kwasind, 
And of happiness and plenty 
In the land of the Ojibways, 
In the pleasant land and peaceful.
"After many years of warfare, 
Many years of strife and bloodshed, 
There is peace between the Ojibways 
And the tribe of the Dacotahs." 
Thus continued Hiawatha, 
And then added, speaking slowly, 
"That this peace may last forever,
And our hands be clasped more closely, 
And our hearts be more united, 
Give me as my wife this maiden, 
Minnehaha, Laughing Water, 
Loveliest of Dacotah women!"
And the ancient Arrow-maker 
Paused a moment ere he answered, 
Smoked a little while in silence, 
Looked at Hiawatha proudly, 
Fondly looked at Laughing Water, 
And made answer very gravely: 
"Yes, if Minnehaha wishes; 
Let your heart speak, Minnehaha!"
And the lovely Laughing Water 
Seemed more lovely as she stood there, 
Neither willing nor reluctant, 
As she went to Hiawatha, 
Softly took the seat beside him, 
While she said, and blushed to say it, 
"I will follow you, my husband!"
This was Hiawatha's wooing! 
Thus it was he won the daughter 
Of the ancient Arrow-maker, 
In the land of the Dacotahs!
From the wigwam he departed, 
Leading with him Laughing Water; 
Hand in hand they went together, 
Through the woodland and the meadow, 
Left the old man standing lonely 
At the doorway of his wigwam, 
Heard the Falls of Minnehaha 
Calling to them from the distance, 
Crying to them from afar off, 
"Fare thee well, O Minnehaha!"
And the ancient Arrow-maker 
Turned again unto his labor, 
Sat down by his sunny doorway, 
Murmuring to himself, and saying:
"Thus it is our daughters leave us, 
Those we love, and those who love us! 
Just when they have learned to help us, 
When we are old and lean upon them, 
Comes a youth with flaunting feathers, 
With his flute of reeds, a stranger 
Wanders piping through the village, 
Beckons to the fairest maiden, 
And she follows where he leads her, 
Leaving all things for the stranger!"
Pleasant was the journey homeward, 
Through interminable forests, 
Over meadow, over mountain, 
Over river, hill, and hollow. 
Short it seemed to Hiawatha, 
Though they journeyed very slowly, 
Though his pace he checked and slackened 
To the steps of Laughing Water.
Over wide and rushing rivers 
In his arms he bore the maiden; 
Light he thought her as a feather, 
As the plume upon his head-gear; 
Cleared the tangled pathway for her, 
Bent aside the swaying branches, 
Made at night a lodge of branches, 
And a bed with boughs of hemlock, 
And a fire before the doorway 
With the dry cones of the pine-tree.
All the travelling winds went with them, 
O'er the meadows, through the forest; 
All the stars of night looked at them, 
Watched with sleepless eyes their slumber; 
From his ambush in the oak-tree 
Peeped the squirrel, Adjidaumo, 
Watched with eager eyes the lovers; 
And the rabbit, the Wabasso, 
Scampered from the path before them, 
Peering, peeping from his burrow,
Sat erect upon his haunches, 
Watched with curious eyes the lovers.
Pleasant was the journey homeward! 
All the birds sang loud and sweetly 
Songs of happiness and heart's-ease; 
Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa, 
"Happy are you, Hiawatha, 
Having such a wife to love you!" 
Sang the robin, the Opechee, 
"Happy are you, Laughing Water, 
Having such a noble husband!"
From the sky the sun benignant 
Looked upon them through the branches, 
Saying to them, "O my children, 
Love is sunshine, hate is shadow, 
Life is checkered shade and sunshine, 
Rule by love, O Hiawatha!"
From the sky the moon looked at them, 
Filled the lodge with mystic splendors, 
Whispered to them, "O my children, 
Day is restless, night is quiet, 
Man imperious, woman feeble; 
Half is mine, although I follow; 
Rule by patience, Laughing Water!"
Thus it was they journeyed homeward; 
Thus it was that Hiawatha 
To the lodge of old Nokomis 
Brought the moonlight, starlight, firelight, 
Brought the sunshine of his people, 
Minnehaha, Laughing Water, 
Handsomest of all the women 
In the land of the Dacotahs, 
In the land of handsome women. 

Share |

Added: Jun 9 2005 | Viewed: 5096 times | Comments and analysis of Hiawatha's Wooing by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Comments (6)

Hiawatha's Wooing - Comments and Information

Poet: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Poem: Hiawatha's Wooing
Volume: The Song of Hiawatha

Comment 6 of 6, added on February 27th, 2014 at 11:22 AM.

I like how the poem is so touching,and also how detailed a poem can be.When,I think of a poem it is usually a really short writing,but in this poem they compressed a whole story into a poem

Michael Kim from United States
Comment 5 of 6, added on March 19th, 2013 at 2:48 PM.

In the poem, Hiawatha’s Wooing, the youth, Hiawatha, is in love with a girl named Minnehaha of Laughing Water. It is a love poem. I can feel what Hiawatha is feeling. He longs for her, hoping that she would become his wife. He thinks that she would make a wonderful wife.
An old man, Nokomis tells Hiawatha to marry a maiden of his people. When Hiawatha said "Dear old Nokomis,very pleasant is the firelight, But I like the starlight better, better do I like the moonlight!", I think that he was trying to say that he prefers someone who he thinks is suited for him. But Nokomis told him what were the expectations: "Bring not here an idle maiden, Bring not here a useless woman, Hands unskilful, feet unwilling; Bring a wife with nimble fingers, heart and hand that move together, feet that run on willing errands!"
Hiawatha tells the old man that he will bring the most beautiful woman, Minnehaha. Nokomis did not want a “stranger” to enter his place and urges the youth to marry another tribe to be united and have peace. Hiawatha left on his journey to the land of Dacotahs. While he was walking, he saw herds of fallow deer and shot a roebuck.
He walked on to the land of Dacotahs and saw Minnehaha making mats. Minnehaha was thinking about her future. She wanted to marry a handsome, young, and tall hunter. Hiawatha came to buy her father’s arrows. He was welcomed in their home. Hiawatha told Minnehaha about his life. Then he asked her to marry him. She accepted. They journeyed together to Nokomis’s place. Hiawatha thinks that Minnehaha is perfect. “Brought the moonlight, starlight, firelight, Brought the sunshine of his people, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, handsomest of all the women In the land of the Dacotahs, In the land of handsome women.”

Allison Louie C6 from United States
Comment 4 of 6, added on March 19th, 2013 at 2:48 PM.

In the poem, Hiawatha’s Wooing, the youth, Hiawatha, is in love with a girl named Minnehaha of Laughing Water. It is a love poem. I can feel what Hiawatha is feeling. He longs for her, hoping that she would become his wife. He thinks that she would make a wonderful wife.
An old man, Nokomis tells Hiawatha to marry a maiden of his people. When Hiawatha said "Dear old Nokomis,very pleasant is the firelight, But I like the starlight better, better do I like the moonlight!", I think that he was trying to say that he prefers someone who he thinks is suited for him. But Nokomis told him what were the expectations: "Bring not here an idle maiden, Bring not here a useless woman, Hands unskilful, feet unwilling; Bring a wife with nimble fingers, heart and hand that move together, feet that run on willing errands!"
Hiawatha tells the old man that he will bring the most beautiful woman, Minnehaha. Nokomis did not want a “stranger” to enter his place and urges the youth to marry another tribe to be united and have peace. Hiawatha left on his journey to the land of Dacotahs. While he was walking, he saw herds of fallow deer and shot a roebuck.
He walked on to the land of Dacotahs and saw Minnehaha making mats. Minnehaha was thinking about her future. She wanted to marry a handsome, young, and tall hunter. Hiawatha came to buy her father’s arrows. He was welcomed in their home. Hiawatha told Minnehaha about his life. Then he asked her to marry him. She accepted. They journeyed together to Nokomis’s place. Hiawatha thinks that Minnehaha is perfect. “Brought the moonlight, starlight, firelight, Brought the sunshine of his people, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, handsomest of all the women In the land of the Dacotahs, In the land of handsome women.”

Allison Louie C6 from United States

Are you looking for more information on this poem? Perhaps you are trying to analyze it? The poem, Hiawatha's Wooing, has received 6 comments. Click here to read them, and perhaps post a comment of your own.

Poem Info

Longfellow Info
Copyright © 2000-2012 Gunnar Bengtsson. All Rights Reserved. Links | Bookstore