Two good friends had Hiawatha,
Singled out from all the others,
Bound to him in closest union,
And to whom he gave the right hand
Of his heart, in joy and sorrow;
Chibiabos, the musician,
And the very strong man, Kwasind.
Straight between them ran the pathway,
Never grew the grass upon it;
Singing birds, that utter falsehoods,
Story-tellers, mischief-makers,
Found no eager ear to listen,
Could not breed ill-will between them,
For they kept each other’s counsel,
Spake with naked hearts together,
Pondering much and much contriving
How the tribes of men might prosper.
Most beloved by Hiawatha
Was the gentle Chibiabos,
He the best of all musicians,
He the sweetest of all singers.
Beautiful and childlike was he,
Brave as man is, soft as woman,
Pliant as a wand of willow,
Stately as a deer with antlers.
When he sang, the village listened;
All the warriors gathered round him,
All the women came to hear him;
Now he stirred their souls to passion,
Now he melted them to pity.
From the hollow reeds he fashioned
Flutes so musical and mellow,
That the brook, the Sebowisha,
Ceased to murmur in the woodland,
That the wood-birds ceased from singing,
And the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
Ceased his chatter in the oak-tree,
And the rabbit, the Wabasso,
Sat upright to look and listen.
Yes, the brook, the Sebowisha,
Pausing, said, “O Chibiabos,
Teach my waves to flow in music,
Softly as your words in singing!”
Yes, the bluebird, the Owaissa,
Envious, said, “O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as wild and wayward,
Teach me songs as full of frenzy!”
Yes, the robin, the Opechee,
Joyous, said, “O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as sweet and tender,
Teach me songs as full of gladness!”
And the whippoorwill, Wawonaissa,
Sobbing, said, “O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as melancholy,
Teach me songs as full of sadness!”
All the many sounds of nature
Borrowed sweetness from his singing;
All the hearts of men were softened
By the pathos of his music;
For he sang of peace and freedom,
Sang of beauty, love, and longing;
Sang of death, and life undying
In the Islands of the Blessed,
In the kingdom of Ponemah,
In the land of the Hereafter.
Very dear to Hiawatha
Was the gentle Chibiabos,
He the best of all musicians,
He the sweetest of all singers;
For his gentleness he loved him,
And the magic of his singing.
Dear, too, unto Hiawatha
Was the very strong man, Kwasind,
He the strongest of all mortals,
He the mightiest among many;
For his very strength he loved him,
For his strength allied to goodness.
Idle in his youth was Kwasind,
Very listless, dull, and dreamy,
Never played with other children,
Never fished and never hunted,
Not like other children was he;
But they saw that much he fasted,
Much his Manito entreated,
Much besought his Guardian Spirit.
“Lazy Kwasind!” said his mother,
“In my work you never help me!
In the Summer you are roaming
Idly in the fields and forests;
In the Winter you are cowering
O’er the firebrands in the wigwam!
In the coldest days of Winter
I must break the ice for fishing;
With my nets you never help me!
At the door my nets are hanging,
Dripping, freezing with the water;
Go and wring them, Yenadizze!
Go and dry them in the sunshine!”
Slowly, from the ashes, Kwasind
Rose, but made no angry answer;
From the lodge went forth in silence,
Took the nets, that hung together,
Dripping, freezing at the doorway;
Like a wisp of straw he wrung them,
Like a wisp of straw he broke them,
Could not wring them without breaking,
Such the strength was in his fingers.
“Lazy Kwasind!” said his father,
“In the hunt you never help me;
Every bow you touch is broken,
Snapped asunder every arrow;
Yet come with me to the forest,
You shall bring the hunting homeward.”
Down a narrow pass they wandered,
Where a brooklet led them onward,
Where the trail of deer and bison
Marked the soft mud on the margin,
Till they found all further passage
Shut against them, barred securely
By the trunks of trees uprooted,
Lying lengthwise, lying crosswise,
And forbidding further passage.
“We must go back,” said the old man,
“O’er these logs we cannot clamber;
Not a woodchuck could get through them,
Not a squirrel clamber o’er them!”
And straightway his pipe he lighted,
And sat down to smoke and ponder.
But before his pipe was finished,
Lo! the path was cleared before him;
All the trunks had Kwasind lifted,
To the right hand, to the left hand,
Shot the pine-trees swift as arrows,
Hurled the cedars light as lances.
“Lazy Kwasind!” said the young men,
As they sported in the meadow:
“Why stand idly looking at us,
Leaning on the rock behind you?
Come and wrestle with the others,
Let us pitch the quoit together!”
Lazy Kwasind made no answer,
To their challenge made no answer,
Only rose, and slowly turning,
Seized the huge rock in his fingers,
Tore it from its deep foundation,
Poised it in the air a moment,
Pitched it sheer into the river,
Sheer into the swift Pauwating,
Where it still is seen in Summer.
Once as down that foaming river,
Down the rapids of Pauwating,
Kwasind sailed with his companions,
In the stream he saw a beaver,
Saw Ahmeek, the King of Beavers,
Struggling with the rushing currents,
Rising, sinking in the water.
Without speaking, without pausing,
Kwasind leaped into the river,
Plunged beneath the bubbling surface,
Through the whirlpools chased the beaver,
Followed him among the islands,
Stayed so long beneath the water,
That his terrified companions
Cried, “Alas! good-by to Kwasind!
We shall never more see Kwasind!”
But he reappeared triumphant,
And upon his shining shoulders
Brought the beaver, dead and dripping,
Brought the King of all the Beavers.
And these two, as I have told you,
Were the friends of Hiawatha,
Chibiabos, the musician,
And the very strong man, Kwasind.
Long they lived in peace together,
Spake with naked hearts together,
Pondering much and much contriving
How the tribes of men might prosper.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

7 Comments

  1. Rishi says:

    This poem really told about a friend from how he was young and when he grew up. It told a lot about the person. This was a poem really in that persons life.

  2. Carissa Chiang says:

    To Hiwatha, his friends were very special to him. His two friends were good at different types of things and he had singled them out from all the others. Chibiabos was the musician and Kwasind was the strong man. He says that he singled them out from all the others and that straight between them ran a pathway. Yet, there was no grass that grew on the path. At first in the poem, you sense a sort of happy tone from Henry while he was describing Hiawatha’s friends and how much they meant to him. But later on, it get’s sort of intense when Kwasind dives under the water to save the beaver. It creates a suspense and leaves you and Hiawatha and Chibiabos wondering if he’s alive or not. Then, Kwasind comes bursting out of the water with the beaver on his shoulder. Then the tone of the poem changes again back into a sort of joyful poem. I think that this poem was wrote to show Hiawatha’s love for his friends and how heroic and different they were, and the fact that they’re bond to each other was so strong that nothing could ever keep them apart.

  3. Lauren Park says:

    The poem is a very interesting poem. The poem is telling about his friendship with his friends. He said that they enjoyed joy and sorrow together no matter what. Longfellow also said that nothing could make them have an ill friendship. The end of this poem is very interesting because it talks about him diving under the water to save a beaver. He was down there for so long that his friends thought he was dead, but he triumphantly came above the water with the dead beaver glistening on his shoulders. I think this poem is very touching because it is a poem about a couple of friends that go through joy and sorrow together. These friends cannot be separated no matter what happens, even if it is something upsetting or bad.

  4. Yoo Been Lee says:

    I thought that the poem about Hiawatha and his friends was very interesting to me, because for me it turned out to be a story packed into a poem, which I thought was very nice. In my perspective, I thought the poem had a very special theme to it and I thought it was that best friends always stick together and have their backs. The tone for me was deep and still very gentle, which I really like in a poem. This poem teaches many things about life and how you should act and be throughout your life. I have to say that this has been the longest poem I have ever read in my life, but it was one of the best poems I have read in my life too! I am glad I had a chance to read one of his poems, and to get to know how it felt like to be Hiawatha. I really enjoyed reading Hiawatha’s Friends.

  5. Christina Chun says:

    I think that this poem was tastefully written so that people these days can relate to friendship. Like the two valued friends that Hiawatha had, friendships should not be so easily broken but kept. These two friends of Hiawatha stood out from all the others and did not fall in the traps of utter falsehoods. Although there often may be differences and conflicts between friends, you need to learn to adjust. This poem appealed to me in a sincere way and evoked my emotions.

  6. Mary Fitzpatrick says:

    I think this is a very well written poem and it described the friends really well. I could never see someone writing so lond on the same subject and still keep a reader wanting more at the end. So good job on your poem Henry Longfellow.

  7. PETER THURANIRA says:

    AS AN UPCOMING POET AND FAN OF WADSWORTH,I THINK HE IS THE POETICAL ANSWER TO SHAKESPEAR.

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