Far Horizons

by Bliss Carman


 

THE TRUCE OF THE MANITOU


 

HERE in the cloudless Northern summer the Beaverfoot range lies out in
  the blue
Brooding and silent, o’er each new-comer its old enchantments are cast

 

anew.


He sees in the great plain far below him lake and river in silver lie,
The winds from the valley lift to blow him chants of the ages passing by.

Voices mysterious wild and haunting speak today as they spoke of old,

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To the humble in the heart and the mind unvaunting is the message
  brought and the secret told.

The Indian lad through lonely hours here watched and fasted to prove his
  worth,
Till there appeared to his quickened powers one of the guides of the
  tribes of earth.

Well he knew that the lower creatures who walk or swim or voyage the
  air,
Whatever their likeness of form or features, gull, crow, caribou, seal or
  bear,
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After their kind have each its Master, its guiding Sprit, its tribal Soul,
To save from panic and self-disaster, to temper with reason and self-
 
  control.  

Who drills the ducks in late September, in floating line or on whistling
 
  wing?  
Who bids the slumbering bear remember? Who guides the run of the  
  salmon in spring?  

Who teaches the hawk the wondrous curving that builds his spirals
 
  against the sun?
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Who steers the flock of sea-snipe swerving to dart and dip and flash as  
  one?  

 

Who but a great and brooding being, taking at will the image of man,

 
Endowed with memory and foreseeing, the Thought of God for his  
  feckless clan!  

The youth has climbed to his lonely station, the rite is performed, the vigil
 
  set,  
The solemn hours of expectation pass,—never one that he will forget.
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The sun is gone, and the gold-tipped ranges are turned to mauve and
 
  purple and blue.  
The dusk comes on, and twilight changes to silence and stars. The word  
  comes through.  

He sees in the dark between the boulders wondering eyes that glow and
 
  stare,  
The great horned heads and thrusting shoulders of a herd of moose that  
  are watching there.  

Then a luminous Presence tall and splendid, in freedom of beauty and
 
  strength of days,
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Took form and spoke,—as doubt was ended,—searching the lad with  
  level gaze:  

“Fear not, my son, what lies before thee. I bring thee word from the
 
  moose thy kin.  
The door of their lodge is open for thee; be of good heart and enter in.  

“From near and far they are come to know thee,—the mightiest bulls of
 
  many a herd,—  
To witness the Manitou’s truce and show thee they too are bound by the  
  uttered word.
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“To these in loyalty and compassion shall thy protection and love be
 
  shown,  
And they in their simple strength and fashion shall return thee caring like  
  thine own.  

“Little have they of understanding, being but folk of the Dawning Mind,
 
Yet to the Will of the All-commanding in goodness of heart they are not  
  blind.  

“Toward them thou shalt brook no hurt nor treason; they are thy brothers
 
  from this day forth.
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With them thou shalt share the Lesser Reason and be given the  
  Knowledge of all the North.  

“I will be with thee in all thy goings, waking or sleeping by day or night,
 
With the rain on its march and the wind in its blowings. Thy kinsman the  
  moose will lend thee might.  

“Thou shalt have eyes where others see not, a heart for the trail where
 
  others faint.  
Ill-willed nor wanton thou shalt be not, keeping thy senses clean of taint.
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“In thine hour of peril when none is near thee, when evil threatens and
 
  help is far,  
Call on thy brothers and they shall hear thee and aid on the instant  
  wherever they are.  

“The Darkness has lightened. The Silence has spoken. Go, and forget
 
  not and be strong.”  
The vision faded, the spell was broken. And the youth who had pondered  
  long and long  

Arose and went down where the valley waited and the thin blue morning
 
  smoke upcurled
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From the silent lodges, with heart elated; a splendor lay over all his world.