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Camp of Souls, The Analysis

Author: Poetry of Isabella Valancy Crawford Type: Poetry Views: 316

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1My white canoe, like the silvery air

2O'er the River of Death that darkly rolls

3When the moons of the world are round and fair,

4I paddle back from the "Camp of Souls."

5When the wishton-wish in the low swamp grieves

6Come the dark plumes of red "Singing Leaves."

7Two hundred times have the moons of spring

8Rolled over the bright bay's azure breath

9Since they decked me with plumes of an eagle's wing,

10And painted my face with the "paint of death,"

11And from their pipes o'er my corpse there broke

12The solemn rings of the blue "last smoke."

13Two hundred times have the wintry moons

14Wrapped the dead earth in a blanket white;

15Two hundred times have the wild sky loons

16Shrieked in the flush of the golden light

17Of the first sweet dawn, when the summer weaves

18Her dusky wigwam of perfect leaves.

19Two hundred moons of the falling leaf

20Since they laid my bow in my dead right hand

21And chanted above me the "song of grief"

22As I took my way to the spirit land;

23Yet when the swallow the blue air cleaves

24Come the dark plumes of red "Singing Leaves."

25White are the wigwams in that far camp,

26And the star-eyed deer on the plains are found;

27No bitter marshes or tangled swamp

28In the Manitou's happy hunting-ground!

29And the moon of summer forever rolls

30Above the red men in their "Camp of Souls."

31Blue are its lakes as the wild dove's breast,

32And their murmurs soft as her gentle note;

33As the calm, large stars in the deep sky rest,

34The yellow lilies upon them float;

35And canoes, like flakes of the silvery snow,

36Thro' the tall, rustling rice-beds come and go.

37Green are its forests; no warrior wind

38Rushes on war trail the dusk grove through,

39With leaf-scalps of tall trees mourning behind;

40But South Wind, heart friend of Great Manitou,

41When ferns and leaves with cool dews are wet,

42Bows flowery breaths from his red calumet.

43Never upon them the white frosts lie,

44Nor glow their green boughs with the "paint of death";

45Manitou smiles in the crystal sky,

46Close breathing above them His life-strong breath;

47And He speaks no more in fierce thunder sound,

48So near is His happy hunting-ground.

49Yet often I love, in my white canoe,

50To come to the forests and camps of earth:

51'Twas there death's black arrow pierced me through;

52'Twas there my red-browed mother gave me birth;

53There I, in the light of a young man's dawn,

54Won the lily heart of dusk "Springing Fawn."

55And love is a cord woven out of life,

56And dyed in the red of the living heart;

57And time is the hunter's rusty knife,

58That cannot cut the red strands apart:

59And I sail from the spirit shore to scan

60Where the weaving of that strong cord began.

61But I may not come with a giftless hand,

62So richly I pile, in my white canoe,

63Flowers that bloom in the spirit land,

64Immortal smiles of Great Manitou.

65When I paddle back to the shores of earth

66I scatter them over the white man's hearth.

67For love is the breath of the soul set free;

68So I cross the river that darkly rolls,

69That my spirit may whisper soft to thee

70Of thine who wait in the "Camp of Souls."

71When the bright day laughs, or the wan night grieves,

72Come the dusky plumes of red "Singing Leaves."


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