I recently began reading Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem ‘The Song of Hiawatha”. Or actually it is more accurate to say I have been listening to this work, as I think most poetry is best heard than read. Published in 1855, it predates the Civil War.
Longfellow’s work attempts to convey the legends and mythology of the Ojibwe people. I share this piece with every respect to this culture, as Longfellow’s words have met with some criticism, but I think if you read this out of the context and as if the Lord himself had written it, it speaks to the horror of recent events unfolding in the world. And with that, read on……
“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.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ,”The Song of Hiawatha” (excerpt from “The Peace Pipe”)
As Veteran’s Day is near, may we consider how we all might work to keep and promote peace.
– Bruce LaCrosse
P.S. As is my custom I share a sketch I have done on this theme.