“Honor be to Mudjekeewis!”
Cried the warriors, cried the old men,
When he came in triumph homeward
With the sacred Belt of Wampum,
From the regions of the North-Wind,
From the kingdom of Wabasso,
From the land of the White Rabbit.
He had stolen the Belt of Wampum
From the neck of Mishe-Mokwa,
From the Great Bear of the mountains,
From the terror of the nations,
As he lay asleep and cumbrous
On the summit of the mountains,
Like a rock with mosses on it,
Spotted brown and gray with mosses.
Silently he stole upon him
Till the red nails of the monster
Almost touched him, almost scared him,
Till the hot breath of his nostrils
Warmed the hands of Mudjekeewis,
As he drew the Belt of Wampum
Over the round ears, that heard not,
Over the small eyes, that saw not,
Over the long nose and nostrils,
The black muffle of the nostrils,
Out of which the heavy breathing
Warmed the hands of Mudjekeewis.
Then he swung aloft his war-club,
Shouted loud and long his war-cry,
Smote the mighty Mishe-Mokwa
In the middle of the forehead,
Right between the eyes he smote him.
With the heavy blow bewildered,
Rose the Great Bear of the mountains;
But his knees beneath him trembled,
And he whimpered like a woman,
As he reeled and staggered forward,
As he sat upon his haunches;
And the mighty Mudjekeewis,
Standing fearlessly before him,
Taunted him in loud derision,
Spake disdainfully in this wise:
“Hark you, Bear! you are a coward;
And no Brave, as you pretended;
Else you would not cry and whimper
Like a miserable woman!
Bear! you know our tribes are hostile,
Long have been at war together;
Now you find that we are strongest,
You go sneaking in the forest,
You go hiding in the mountains!
Had you conquered me in battle
Not a groan would I have uttered;
But you, Bear! sit here and whimper,
And disgrace your tribe by crying,
Like a wretched Shaugodaya,
Like a cowardly old woman!”
Then again he raised his war-club,
Smote again the Mishe-Mokwa
In the middle of his forehead,
Broke his skull, as ice is broken
When one goes to fish in Winter.
Thus was slain the Mishe-Mokwa,
He the Great Bear of the mountains,
He the terror of the nations.
“Honor be to Mudjekeewis!”
With a shout exclaimed the people,
“Honor be to Mudjekeewis!
Henceforth he shall be the West-Wind,
And hereafter and forever
Shall he hold supreme dominion
Over all the winds of heaven.
Call him no more Mudjekeewis,
Call him Kabeyun, the West-Wind!”
Thus was Mudjekeewis chosen
Father of the Winds of Heaven.
For himself he kept the West-Wind,
Gave the others to his children;
Unto Wabun gave the East-Wind,
Gave the South to Shawondasee,
And the North-Wind, wild and cruel,
To the fierce Kabibonokka.
Young and beautiful was Wabun;
He it was who brought the morning,
He it was whose silver arrows
Chased the dark o’er hill and valley;
He it was whose cheeks were painted
With the brightest streaks of crimson,
And whose voice awoke the village,
Called the deer, and called the hunter.
Lonely in the sky was Wabun;
Though the birds sang gayly to him,
Though the wild-flowers of the meadow
Filled the air with odors for him;
Though the forests and the rivers
Sang and shouted at his coming,
Still his heart was sad within him,
For he was alone in heaven.
But one morning, gazing earthward,
While the village still was sleeping,
And the fog lay on the river,
Like a ghost, that goes at sunrise,
He beheld a maiden walking
All alone upon a meadow,
Gathering water-flags and rushes
By a river in the meadow.
Every morning, gazing earthward,
Still the first thing he beheld there
Was her blue eyes looking at him,
Two blue lakes among the rushes.
And he loved the lonely maiden,
Who thus waited for his coming;
For they both were solitary,
She on earth and he in heaven.
And he wooed her with caresses,
Wooed her with his smile of sunshine,
With his flattering words he wooed her,
With his sighing and his singing,
Gentlest whispers in the branches,
Softest music, sweetest odors,
Till he drew her to his bosom,
Folded in his robes of crimson,
Till into a star he changed her,
Trembling still upon his bosom;
And forever in the heavens
They are seen together walking,
Wabun and the Wabun-Annung,
Wabun and the Star of Morning.
But the fierce Kabibonokka
Had his dwelling among icebergs,
In the everlasting snow-drifts,
In the kingdom of Wabasso,
In the land of the White Rabbit.
He it was whose hand in Autumn
Painted all the trees with scarlet,
Stained the leaves with red and yellow;
He it was who sent the snow-flake,
Sifting, hissing through the forest,
Froze the ponds, the lakes, the rivers,
Drove the loon and sea-gull southward,
Drove the cormorant and curlew
To their nests of sedge and sea-tang
In the realms of Shawondasee.
Once the fierce Kabibonokka
Issued from his lodge of snow-drifts
From his home among the icebergs,
And his hair, with snow besprinkled,
Streamed behind him like a river,
Like a black and wintry river,
As he howled and hurried southward,
Over frozen lakes and moorlands.
There among the reeds and rushes
Found he Shingebis, the diver,
Trailing strings of fish behind him,
O’er the frozen fens and moorlands,
Lingering still among the moorlands,
Though his tribe had long departed
To the land of Shawondasee.
Cried the fierce Kabibonokka,
“Who is this that dares to brave me?
Dares to stay in my dominions,
When the Wawa has departed,
When the wild-goose has gone southward,
And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Long ago departed southward?
I will go into his wigwam,
I will put his smouldering fire out!”
And at night Kabibonokka,
To the lodge came wild and wailing,
Heaped the snow in drifts about it,
Shouted down into the smoke-flue,
Shook the lodge-poles in his fury,
Flapped the curtain of the door-way.
Shingebis, the diver, feared not,
Shingebis, the diver, cared not;
Four great logs had he for firewood,
One for each moon of the winter,
And for food the fishes served him.
By his blazing fire he sat there,
Warm and merry, eating, laughing,
Singing, “O Kabibonokka,
You are but my fellow-mortal!”
Then Kabibonokka entered,
And though Shingebis, the diver,
Felt his presence by the coldness,
Felt his icy breath upon him,
Still he did not cease his singing,
Still he did not leave his laughing,
Only turned the log a little,
Only made the fire burn brighter,
Made the sparks fly up the smoke-flue.
From Kabibonokka’s forehead,
From his snow-besprinkled tresses,
Drops of sweat fell fast and heavy,
Making dints upon the ashes,
As along the eaves of lodges,
As from drooping boughs of hemlock,
Drips the melting snow in spring-time,
Making hollows in the snow-drifts.
Till at last he rose defeated,
Could not bear the heat and laughter,
Could not bear the merry singing,
But rushed headlong through the door-way,
Stamped upon the crusted snow-drifts,
Stamped upon the lakes and rivers,
Made the snow upon them harder,
Made the ice upon them thicker,
Challenged Shingebis, the diver,
To come forth and wrestle with him,
To come forth and wrestle naked
On the frozen fens and moorlands.
Forth went Shingebis, the diver,
Wrestled all night with the North-Wind,
Wrestled naked on the moorlands
With the fierce Kabibonokka,
Till his panting breath grew fainter,
Till his frozen grasp grew feebler,
Till he reeled and staggered backward,
And retreated, baffled, beaten,
To the kingdom of Wabasso,
To the land of the White Rabbit,
Hearing still the gusty laughter,
Hearing Shingebis, the diver,
Singing, “O Kabibonokka,
You are but my fellow-mortal!”
Shawondasee, fat and lazy,
Had his dwelling far to southward,
In the drowsy, dreamy sunshine,
In the never-ending Summer.
He it was who sent the wood-birds,
Sent the robin, the Opechee,
Sent the bluebird, the Owaissa,
Sent the Shawshaw, sent the swallow,
Sent the wild-goose, Wawa, northward,
Sent the melons and tobacco,
And the grapes in purple clusters.
From his pipe the smoke ascending
Filled the sky with haze and vapor,
Filled the air with dreamy softness,
Gave a twinkle to the water,
Touched the rugged hills with smoothness,
Brought the tender Indian Summer
To the melancholy north-land,
In the dreary Moon of Snow-shoes.
Listless, careless Shawondasee!
In his life he had one shadow,
In his heart one sorrow had he.
Once, as he was gazing northward,
Far away upon a prairie
He beheld a maiden standing,
Saw a tall and slender maiden
All alone upon a prairie;
Brightest green were all her garments,
And her hair was like the sunshine.
Day by day he gazed upon her,
Day by day he sighed with passion,
Day by day his heart within him
Grew more hot with love and longing
For the maid with yellow tresses.
But he was too fat and lazy
To bestir himself and woo her.
Yes, too indolent and easy
To pursue her and persuade her;
So he only gazed upon her,
Only sat and sighed with passion
For the maiden of the prairie.
Till one morning, looking northward,
He beheld her yellow tresses
Changed and covered o’er with whiteness,
Covered as with whitest snow-flakes.
“Ah! my brother from the North-land,
From the kingdom of Wabasso,
From the land of the White Rabbit!
You have stolen the maiden from me,
You have laid your hand upon her,
You have wooed and won my maiden,
With your stories of the North-land!”
Thus the wretched Shawondasee
Breathed into the air his sorrow;
And the South-Wind o’er the prairie
Wandered warm with sighs of passion,
With the sighs of Shawondasee,
Till the air seemed full of snow-flakes,
Full of thistle-down the prairie,
And the maid with hair like sunshine
Vanished from his sight forever;
Never more did Shawondasee
See the maid with yellow tresses!
Poor, deluded Shawondasee!
‘T was no woman that you gazed at,
‘T was no maiden that you sighed for,
‘T was the prairie dandelion
That through all the dreamy Summer
You had gazed at with such longing,
You had sighed for with such passion,
And had puffed away forever,
Blown into the air with sighing.
Ah! deluded Shawondasee!
Thus the Four Winds were divided
Thus the sons of Mudjekeewis
Had their stations in the heavens,
At the corners of the heavens;
For himself the West-Wind only
Kept the mighty Mudjekeewis.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem The Four Winds

5 Comments

  1. Jonathan Kim says:

    I really enjoyed this forever long poem because of the adventures this long poem held. At first, when I was reading this poem, I had no idea what was going on in the poem and the plot and everything. I started to recognize that this story was about the journey for the Legendary Belt of Wampum and the the Great Bear in the Mountain was guarding it. I also think that the four winds represent different way you can choose and the you must choose one way.

  2. Sneha Krishnan (Robert C. Fisler School) says:

    I think this poem is a inspirational poem. It shows that even simple concepts such as the winds of nature can be intertwined with Native American culture to make a wonderful poem. I think Longfellow probably took inspiration from only Native American culture to come up with this poem. The poem itself has a few different tones from my perspective. I think the first part of the poem shows a triumphant tone. The part where Mudjekeewis gives the three winds to his sons sends a dividing tone as well as a powerful tone because the sons receive the a wind each and gain power to that type of season. After that event, the poem talks about each son and what he is in power of. For example, Wabun is in power of the season of Spring. The poem also talks about what each of the sons experience and see. For example, Wabun finds a beautiful maiden and soon turns her into the Star of Morning, the Sun. That parts shows a loving tone. The scenes are full of love except for Kabibonokka. Kabibonokka scene shows a dark tone because Kabibonokka is trying to get rid of someone. I think this poem is all about the Seasons and the winds. But it could also have a real life implication. It could be compared to modern – day inheritance. When a father of three sons dies, he might leave his fortune to his sons. In his will, it will be written so that the three sons get equal shares of the fortune. Overall, I like this poem and it is very inspirational. It has many tones incorporated in it and is a very unique and interesting poem to analyze and comment upon.

  3. Sarah Nam(Fisler) says:

    At first when I read this poem I was a little confused, after I went back and read it again I started to understand it a little. This is a poem about the Four Winds: North, East, South, and West. The journey had all started when Mudjekeewis defeated the Great Bear of the Mountain and brought back the legendary Belt of Wampum to his tribe. His tribe named him the West-Wind. They also changed Mudjekeewis’s name to Kabeyun. As for the other three winds, Kabeyun gave them to his sons, “Unto Wabun gave the East-Wind, Gave the South to Shawondasee, And the North-Wind, wild and cruel, To the fierce Kabibonokka.” Then it starts to explain the other three winds’ lives as they did their new duties of bringing the seasons and such. Wabun was a handsome man and he brought the morning light as day broke and spring with newborn birds. Kabibonokka was the fierce and merciless winter wind that brought howling winds and blizzards. Shawondasee was a soothing summer wind and very lazy, he brought summer to the people.
    This could relate the real life. Although it cannot relate to my life specifically it can relate to others. There could be a family where the father had three sons and he divided the land he got from his friend with them. As the father, he would keep the best land and gave the three sons land according to their order of birth. It would then follow their lives as they grew up and tried to woo women into their hands.

  4. Karla Leonard says:

    I was very astonished to see that there is 1,796 words in the poem, “ The Four Winds.” This poem touched me because it was about regions and warriors fighting with their lives in a battle. Fighting to wind, fighting with all of their might. Risking their lives to save their country from darkness. The animals that they killed so that they could eat them to stay alive they needed. The indians are warriors using their lives to that they only have one of. The west wind was the strongest. The east wind was the next strongest and then the south and then the north. The warriors fought through those winds to survive and to eat and to be warriors. The air had its own power than it could unleash. Also, that they are gathering things that they will need through the seasons to live through. That is what the people are doing while the warriors are out fighting. The people are also gathering herbs so that when they need to be in repair, they will be ready to help and repair the warriors that are in danger of dying.

  5. Eddy says:

    I really liked the poem, it really touched me. I can tell that this poem is a sad one.

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