The White Wampum

by Emily Pauline Johnson


 

WAVE-WON


 

TO-NIGHT I hunger so,
Belovéd one, to know
If you recall and crave again the dream
That haunted our canoe,
And wove its witchcraft through
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Our hearts as ’neath the northern night we sailed the northern             stream.

Ah! dear, if only we
As yesternight could be
Afloat within that light and lonely shell,
To drift in silence ’till
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Heart-hushed, and lulled and still
The moonlight through the melting air flung forth its fatal spell.

The dusky summer night,
The path of gold and white
The moon had cast across the river’s breast, [Page 77]
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The shores in shadows clad,
The far-away, half-sad
Sweet singing of the whip-poor-will, all soothed our souls to rest.

You trusted I could feel,
My arm as strong as steel,
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So still your upturned face, so calm your breath,
While circling eddies curled,
While laughing rapids whirled
From boulder unto boulder, ’till they dashed themselves to death.

Your splendid eyes aflame
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Put heaven’s stars to shame,
Your god-like head so near my lap was laid—
My hand is burning where
It touched your wind-blown hair,
As sweeping to the rapids verge, I changed my paddle blade.
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The boat obeyed my hand,
’Till wearied with its grand
Wild anger, all the river lay aswoon,
And as my paddle dipped,
Thro’ pools of pearl it slipped
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And swept beneath a shore of shade, beneath a velvet moon.             [Page 78]

To-night, again dream you
Our spirit-winged canoe
Is listening to the rapids purling past?
Where, in delirium reeled
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Our maddened hearts that kneeled
To idolize the perfect world, to taste of love at last. [Page 79]