'Four Winds, The' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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"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.
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Deep Analysis of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Four Winds"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Four Winds" is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the essence of nature and the human experience. This work is a celebration of the four winds, which have been an important part of human culture since ancient times. The poet's love for nature and his ability to bring it to life through his words make this poem a timeless masterpiece.
The poem begins with a description of the four winds, which are personified as "four gray sisters." They are described as having "shaggy locks" and "wild eyes" that stare out into the world with a sense of purpose. This description creates an image of powerful beings that are both wild and untamed, yet also compassionate and caring.
The four winds are then described in more detail, with each one having its own unique characteristics. The first wind, the East Wind, is described as the bringer of light and warmth. It is the wind of spring and new beginnings, and it is associated with the rising sun. The East Wind is also associated with hope and renewal, and it is the wind that brings new life to the world.
The South Wind is described as the bringer of heat and passion. It is the wind of summer and love, and it is associated with the noonday sun. The South Wind is also associated with joy and happiness, and it is the wind that brings warmth to the human heart.
The West Wind is described as the bringer of change and transition. It is the wind of autumn and harvest, and it is associated with the setting sun. The West Wind is also associated with wisdom and experience, and it is the wind that brings change to the world.
The North Wind is described as the bringer of cold and death. It is the wind of winter and the end of life, and it is associated with the night sky. The North Wind is also associated with truth and justice, and it is the wind that brings the end to all things.
The poem then moves on to describe the impact of the four winds on the natural world. The East Wind brings the first signs of spring, with flowers and trees blooming in its wake. The South Wind brings the warmth of summer, with fields of wheat and corn ripening in its wake. The West Wind brings the changing colors of autumn, with leaves falling from trees and crops being harvested. The North Wind brings the cold of winter, with snow and ice covering the ground and trees becoming barren.
The poem then shifts to a more philosophical tone, with the poet examining the impact of the four winds on the human experience. The East Wind is associated with hope and renewal, and it is the wind that brings new opportunities and beginnings to our lives. The South Wind is associated with love and passion, and it is the wind that brings joy and happiness to our hearts. The West Wind is associated with change and transition, and it is the wind that brings new perspectives and experiences into our lives. The North Wind is associated with truth and justice, and it is the wind that brings an end to falsehoods and injustices.
The poem concludes with a call to embrace the four winds and to find meaning and purpose in their presence. The poet encourages us to "embrace each wind with equal grace" and to let them guide us through the seasons of our lives. The poem ends with a sense of optimism and hope, as the poet reminds us that the four winds are always present, bringing new experiences and opportunities to our lives.
In conclusion, "The Four Winds" is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the essence of nature and the human experience. Longfellow's love for nature and his ability to bring it to life through his words make this poem a timeless masterpiece. The poem's personification of the four winds allows us to see them as powerful beings that impact both the natural world and the human experience. Longfellow's examination of the impact of the four winds on the human experience is both philosophical and practical, encouraging us to embrace the winds and find meaning and purpose in their presence. This poem is a true celebration of the beauty and power of nature, and it is a reminder of our connection to the natural world and the importance of embracing change and transition in our lives.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Four Winds, The: A Masterpiece of Poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is one of the most celebrated poets of the 19th century. His works are known for their lyrical beauty, romanticism, and deep philosophical insights. Among his many masterpieces, Four Winds, The stands out as a shining example of his poetic genius. This poem is a tribute to the four winds that blow across the earth, each with its own unique character and power. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of Four Winds, The and discover why it continues to captivate readers to this day.
The poem begins with a majestic invocation to the four winds:
"Four winds of the sky, that blow Over the earth, to and fro, Chant a prayer for us below, For us who sing In this lowly home of ours, In this land of fruits and flowers, Where the sunshine ever pours, And the birds ever wing."
Here, Longfellow sets the tone for the poem, invoking the winds as divine beings who have the power to bless and protect the earth. He also establishes the setting as a place of natural beauty and abundance, where the sun shines and the birds sing. This creates a sense of harmony and peace, which is later contrasted with the destructive power of the winds.
The first wind that Longfellow describes is the East Wind:
"East Wind, whose keen breath Pierces through the bones of Death, Blow thy trumpet loud and free, Till from his dungeon, drear and damp, The captive shall escape and stamp His foot on tyranny."
Here, Longfellow personifies the East Wind as a warrior who has the power to break the chains of oppression and set the captives free. He uses vivid imagery to describe the wind's "keen breath" that can pierce through the bones of Death. This suggests that the East Wind is a force to be reckoned with, capable of overcoming even the most formidable obstacles.
The second wind that Longfellow describes is the South Wind:
"South Wind, at whose gentle touch The frozen tears melt from the Dutch, And the rose in the warm hedge blushes, And the streams, bursting from their sleep, Laugh and leap into the deep, Where the sea lies in its rushes."
Here, Longfellow personifies the South Wind as a gentle lover who has the power to thaw the frozen hearts of the Dutch and bring life to the land. He uses vivid imagery to describe the wind's effect on nature, causing the roses to blush and the streams to burst forth with joy. This suggests that the South Wind is a force of renewal and regeneration, bringing new life to the earth after the long winter.
The third wind that Longfellow describes is the West Wind:
"West Wind, whose mighty breath Is a trumpet blast of death, Till the oak in his strength is shattered, And the pine is twisted and rent, And the rafters of the cot are bent, And the roof like a banner flutters."
Here, Longfellow personifies the West Wind as a destroyer who has the power to shatter even the strongest trees and buildings. He uses vivid imagery to describe the wind's destructive power, causing the oak to be shattered and the pine to be twisted and rent. This suggests that the West Wind is a force of chaos and destruction, capable of bringing down even the most stable structures.
The fourth wind that Longfellow describes is the North Wind:
"North Wind, whose breath is keen and cold, Bitterly bites the young and old, And drives the snow before him, piled In great drifts, and white and wild."
Here, Longfellow personifies the North Wind as a harsh and unforgiving force that brings cold and snow to the land. He uses vivid imagery to describe the wind's effect on nature, causing the snow to pile up in great drifts and creating a wild and desolate landscape. This suggests that the North Wind is a force of isolation and hardship, testing the resilience of those who live in its path.
Throughout the poem, Longfellow uses a variety of poetic devices to create a sense of rhythm and musicality. He employs alliteration, assonance, and rhyme to create a sense of unity and coherence. For example, in the first stanza, he uses the repetition of the "o" sound in "blow," "below," "ours," and "flowers" to create a sense of harmony and balance. In the second stanza, he uses the repetition of the "t" sound in "trumpet," "dungeon," and "stamp" to create a sense of urgency and power. These devices help to reinforce the themes and imagery of the poem, creating a rich and complex tapestry of sound and meaning.
In conclusion, Four Winds, The is a masterpiece of poetry that continues to captivate readers with its lyrical beauty, vivid imagery, and deep philosophical insights. Longfellow's tribute to the four winds is a celebration of the power and majesty of nature, as well as a warning of its destructive potential. Through his use of poetic devices, he creates a sense of unity and coherence that reinforces the themes and imagery of the poem. Four Winds, The is a testament to Longfellow's poetic genius and a timeless work of art that will continue to inspire and enchant readers for generations to come.
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