'Peace -Pipe, The' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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On the Mountains of the Prairie,
On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,
Gitche Manito, the mighty,
He the Master of Life, descending,
On the red crags of the quarry
Stood erect, and called the nations,
Called the tribes of men together.
From his footprints flowed a river,
Leaped into the light of morning,
O'er the precipice plunging downward
Gleamed like Ishkoodah, the comet.
And the Spirit, stooping earthward,
With his finger on the meadow
Traced a winding pathway for it,
Saying to it, "Run in this way!"
From the red stone of the quarry
With his hand he broke a fragment,
Moulded it into a pipe-head,
Shaped and fashioned it with figures;
From the margin of the river
Took a long reed for a pipe-stem,
With its dark green leaves upon it;
Filled the pipe with bark of willow,
With the bark of the red willow;
Breathed upon the neighboring forest,
Made its great boughs chafe together,
Till in flame they burst and kindled;
And erect upon the mountains,
Gitche Manito, the mighty,
Smoked the calumet, the Peace-Pipe,
As a signal to the nations.
And the smoke rose slowly, slowly,
Through the tranquil air of morning,
First a single line of darkness,
Then a denser, bluer vapor,
Then a snow-white cloud unfolding,
Like the tree-tops of the forest,
Ever rising, rising, rising,
Till it touched the top of heaven,
Till it broke against the heaven,
And rolled outward all around it.
From the Vale of Tawasentha,
From the Valley of Wyoming,
From the groves of Tuscaloosa,
From the far-off Rocky Mountains,
From the Northern lakes and rivers
All the tribes beheld the signal,
Saw the distant smoke ascending,
The Pukwana of the Peace-Pipe.
And the Prophets of the nations
Said: "Behold it, the Pukwana!
By the signal of the Peace-Pipe,
Bending like a wand of willow,
Waving like a hand that beckons,
Gitche Manito, the mighty,
Calls the tribes of men together,
Calls the warriors to his council!"
Down the rivers, o'er the prairies,
Came the warriors of the nations,
Came the Delawares and Mohawks,
Came the Choctaws and Camanches,
Came the Shoshonies and Blackfeet,
Came the Pawnees and Omahas,
Came the Mandans and Dacotahs,
Came the Hurons and Ojibways,
All the warriors drawn together
By the signal of the Peace-Pipe,
To the Mountains of the Prairie,
To the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,
And they stood there on the meadow,
With their weapons and their war-gear,
Painted like the leaves of Autumn,
Painted like the sky of morning,
Wildly glaring at each other;
In their faces stem defiance,
In their hearts the feuds of ages,
The hereditary hatred,
The ancestral thirst of vengeance.
Gitche Manito, the mighty,
The creator of the nations,
Looked upon them with compassion,
With paternal love and pity;
Looked upon their wrath and wrangling
But as quarrels among children,
But as feuds and fights of children!
Over them he stretched his right hand,
To subdue their stubborn natures,
To allay their thirst and fever,
By the shadow of his right hand;
Spake to them with voice majestic
As the sound of far-off waters,
Falling into deep abysses,
Warning, chiding, spake in this wise :
"O my children! my poor children!
Listen to the words of wisdom,
Listen to the words of warning,
From the lips of the Great Spirit,
From the Master of Life, who made you!
"I have given you lands to hunt in,
I have given you streams to fish in,
I have given you bear and bison,
I have given you roe and reindeer,
I have given you brant and beaver,
Filled the marshes full of wild-fowl,
Filled the rivers full of fishes:
Why then are you not contented?
Why then will you hunt each other?
"I am weary of your quarrels,
Weary of your wars and bloodshed,
Weary of your prayers for vengeance,
Of your wranglings and dissensions;
All your strength is in your union,
All your danger is in discord;
Therefore be at peace henceforward,
And as brothers live together.
"I will send a Prophet to you,
A Deliverer of the nations,
Who shall guide you and shall teach you,
Who shall toil and suffer with you.
If you listen to his counsels,
You will multiply and prosper;
If his warnings pass unheeded,
You will fade away and perish!
"Bathe now in the stream before you,
Wash the war-paint from your faces,
Wash the blood-stains from your fingers,
Bury your war-clubs and your weapons,
Break the red stone from this quarry,
Mould and make it into Peace-Pipes,
Take the reeds that grow beside you,
Deck them with your brightest feathers,
Smoke the calumet together,
And as brothers live henceforward!"
Then upon the ground the warriors
Threw their cloaks and shirts of deer-skin,
Threw their weapons and their war-gear,
Leaped into the rushing river,
Washed the war-paint from their faces.
Clear above them flowed the water,
Clear and limpid from the footprints
Of the Master of Life descending;
Dark below them flowed the water,
Soiled and stained with streaks of crimson,
As if blood were mingled with it!
From the river came the warriors,
Clean and washed from all their war-paint;
On the banks their clubs they buried,
Buried all their warlike weapons.
Gitche Manito, the mighty,
The Great Spirit, the creator,
Smiled upon his helpless children!
And in silence all the warriors
Broke the red stone of the quarry,
Smoothed and formed it into Peace-Pipes,
Broke the long reeds by the river,
Decked them with their brightest feathers,
And departed each one homeward,
While the Master of Life, ascending,
Through the opening of cloud-curtains,
Through the doorways of the heaven,
Vanished from before their faces,
In the smoke that rolled around him,
The Pukwana of the Peace-Pipe!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, Peace-Pipe: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Are you looking for a piece of literature that will take you on a journey of self-discovery and reflection? Then you need to read "Poetry, Peace-Pipe" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This classic poem is a masterpiece of American literature that explores the themes of identity, heritage, and cultural diversity. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve into the depths of "Poetry, Peace-Pipe" and uncover its hidden meanings and messages.

Background and Context

Before we dive into the poem itself, let's take a moment to understand the historical and cultural context in which it was written. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a 19th-century American poet who played a significant role in shaping the literary and cultural landscape of his time. He was known for his use of historical and cultural themes in his poetry, and "Poetry, Peace-Pipe" is no exception.

The poem was published in 1850 as part of Longfellow's collection of poems called "The Songs of Hiawatha." This collection was inspired by the Native American legends and traditions of the Ojibwe tribe, which Longfellow had learned about from his friend and fellow writer, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. The collection was a commercial and critical success, and it helped to popularize Native American culture and folklore in American literature.

Literary Analysis

Now, let's turn our attention to the poem itself. "Poetry, Peace-Pipe" is a short but powerful poem that consists of four stanzas. Each stanza is composed of three lines, which gives the poem a rhythmic and almost musical quality. The poem is written in free verse, which means that it does not follow a strict rhyme scheme or meter. Instead, the lines flow naturally and organically, creating a sense of fluidity and movement.

The first stanza of the poem sets the tone and establishes the central theme: the power of poetry to connect us to our cultural heritage and to each other. The speaker describes how he has been given a peace-pipe, which is a traditional Native American symbol of unity and harmony. He then declares that he will use the peace-pipe to smoke the "leaves of the plant of wonder," which is a metaphor for poetry. By smoking the peace-pipe, the speaker is symbolically connecting himself to his cultural roots and to the universal human experience of longing for meaning and connection.

The second stanza expands on this theme by exploring the idea of cultural diversity and the power of poetry to bridge the gaps between different cultures. The speaker declares that the peace-pipe will bring together "all the tribes of men" and that they will smoke it together in peace and harmony. This image of unity and diversity is a powerful one, and it speaks to the human desire for connection and understanding across cultural and linguistic boundaries.

The third stanza takes a more introspective turn, as the speaker reflects on his own identity and his place in the world. He declares that he is a "stranger and afraid" in the world, and that he is seeking comfort and reassurance. The peace-pipe, and the poetry that it represents, is a source of solace and strength for him, as it helps him to connect with his cultural heritage and to find a sense of belonging in the world.

The final stanza brings the poem to a powerful and uplifting conclusion. The speaker declares that the peace-pipe and the poetry it represents will endure forever, and that they will continue to bring people together in peace and harmony. This image of a world united by poetry and cultural diversity is a hopeful one, and it speaks to our shared human desire for connection and understanding.


So, what is the deeper meaning behind "Poetry, Peace-Pipe"? At its core, the poem is a celebration of cultural diversity and the power of poetry to connect us to our cultural roots and to each other. The peace-pipe, which is a traditional Native American symbol of unity and harmony, represents the universal human desire for connection and understanding across cultural and linguistic boundaries.

The poem also speaks to the importance of cultural heritage and identity. The speaker is a "stranger and afraid" in the world, but he finds comfort and strength in the poetry of his cultural heritage. By smoking the peace-pipe and connecting with his cultural roots, he is able to find a sense of belonging and purpose in the world.

Finally, the poem is a powerful commentary on the human condition and the need for peace and harmony in a world that is often divided by cultural, linguistic, and political differences. The peace-pipe brings together "all the tribes of men" in a spirit of unity and understanding, and it represents the hope that we can overcome our differences and find common ground through the power of poetry and cultural diversity.


"Poetry, Peace-Pipe" is a timeless masterpiece of American literature that speaks to the universal human desire for connection and understanding. Through its powerful imagery and evocative language, the poem celebrates cultural diversity, the importance of cultural heritage and identity, and the need for peace and harmony in a divided world. Whether you are a lover of poetry, a student of literature, or simply someone who is seeking meaning and purpose in the world, "Poetry, Peace-Pipe" is a must-read that will leave you inspired and uplifted.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is a form of art that has been used for centuries to express emotions, thoughts, and ideas. It is a powerful tool that can be used to convey messages of peace, love, and unity. One of the most famous poems that embody this message is the "Peace-Pipe" written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This poem is a beautiful representation of the Native American culture and their beliefs in peace and harmony.

The "Peace-Pipe" is a poem that tells the story of a Native American tribe that is preparing for war. The tribe's chief, who is also the narrator of the poem, decides to call for a council to discuss the matter. The council is held in a sacred place, and the chief brings out a peace-pipe, which is a symbol of peace and unity. The chief then proceeds to smoke the pipe, and the smoke is passed around the council members, signifying their agreement to peace.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with its own unique message. The first stanza sets the scene and introduces the chief and his tribe. The second stanza describes the council and the peace-pipe ceremony, while the third stanza concludes the poem with a message of hope and unity.

Longfellow's use of imagery and symbolism is what makes this poem so powerful. The peace-pipe, for example, is a symbol of peace and unity that is deeply rooted in Native American culture. It is a sacred object that is used to bring people together and resolve conflicts. The smoke that is passed around the council members represents the unity and agreement of the tribe to pursue peace instead of war.

The use of repetition in the poem also adds to its power. The phrase "the smoke of the peace-pipe" is repeated several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the importance of the peace-pipe ceremony and its significance to the tribe. The repetition of this phrase also creates a sense of rhythm and flow, making the poem easy to read and remember.

The poem's message of peace and unity is timeless and universal. It speaks to the human desire for peace and the need to come together to resolve conflicts. Longfellow's portrayal of the Native American culture is also significant, as it highlights the importance of respecting and learning from other cultures.

In conclusion, the "Peace-Pipe" is a beautiful poem that embodies the message of peace and unity. Longfellow's use of imagery, symbolism, and repetition creates a powerful and memorable poem that speaks to the human desire for peace. The poem's message is timeless and universal, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of coming together to resolve conflicts and promote peace.

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