Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

The Song of Hiawatha

XVI. Pau-Puk-Keewis

YOU shall hear how Pau-Puk-Keewis,

He, the handsome Yenadizze,

Whom the people called the Storm-Fool,

Vexed the village with disturbance;

You shall hear of all his mischief,

And his flight from Hiawatha,

And his wondrous transmigrations,

And the end of his adventures.

On the shores of Gitche Gumee,

On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo,

By the shining Big-Sea-Water

Stood the lodge of Pau-Puk-Keewis.

It was he who in his frenzy

Whirled these drifting sands together,

On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo,

When, among the guests assembled,

He so merrily and madly

Danced at Hiawatha’s wedding,

Danced the Beggar’s Dance to please them.

Now, in search of new adventures,

From his lodge went Pau-Puk-Keewis,

Came with speed into the village,

Found the young men all assembled

In the lodge of old Iagoo,

Listening to his monstrous stories,

To his wonderful adventures.

He was telling them the story

Of Ojeeg, the Summer-Maker,

How he made a hole in heaven,

How he climbed up into heaven,

And let out the summer-weather,

The perpetual, pleasant Summer;

How the Otter first essayed it;

How the Beaver, Lynx, and Badger

Tried in turn the great achievement,

From the summit of the mountain

Smote their fists against the heavens,

Smote against the sky their foreheads,

Cracked the sky, but could not break it;

How the Wolverine, uprising,

Made him ready for the encounter,

Bent his knees down, like a squirrel,

Drew his arms back, like a cricket.

“Once he leaped,” said old Iagoo,

“Once he leaped, and lo! above him

Bent the sky, as ice in rivers

When the waters rise beneath it;

Twice he leaped, and lo! above him

Cracked the sky, as ice in rivers

When the freshet is at highest!

Thrice he leaped, and lo! above him

Broke the shattered sky asunder,

And he disappeared within it,

And Ojeeg, the Fisher Weasel,

With a bound went in behind him!”

“Hark you!” shouted Pau-Puk-Keewis

As he entered at the doorway;

“I am tired of all this talking,

Tired of old Iagoo’s stories,

Tired of Hiawatha’s wisdom.

Here is something to amuse you,

Better than this endless talking.”

Then from out his pouch of wolf-skin

Forth he drew, with solemn manner,

All the game of Bowl and Counters,

Pugasaing, with thirteen pieces.

White on one side were they painted,

And vermilion on the other;

Two Kenabeeks or great serpents,

Two Ininewug or wedge-men,

One great war-club, Pugamaugun,

And one slender fish, the Keego,

Four round pieces, Ozawabeeks,

And three Sheshebwug or ducklings.

All were made of bone and painted,

All except the Ozawabeeks;

These were brass, on one side burnished,

And were black upon the other.

In a wooden bowl he placed them,

Shook and jostled them together,

Threw them on the ground before him,

Thus exclaiming and explaining:

“Red side up are all the pieces,

And one great Kenabeek standing

On the bright side of a brass piece,

On a burnished Ozawabeek;

Thirteen tens and eight are counted.”

Then again he shook the pieces,

Shook and jostled them together,

Threw them on the ground before him,

Still exclaiming and explaining:

“White are both the great Kenabeeks,

White the Ininewug, the wedge-men,

Red are all the other pieces;

Five tens and an eight are counted.”

Thus he taught the game of hazard,

Thus displayed it and explained it,

Running through its various chances,

Various changes, various meanings:

Twenty curious eyes stared at him,

Full of eagerness stared at him.

“Many games,” said old Iagoo,

“Many games of skill and hazard

Have I seen in different nations,

Have I played in different countries.

He who plays with old Iagoo

Must have very nimble fingers;

Though you think yourself so skilful,

I can beat you, Pau-Puk-Keewis,

I can even give you lessons

In your game of Bowl and Counters!”

So they sat and played together,

All the old men and the young men,

Played for dresses, weapons, wampum,

Played till midnight, played till morning,

Played until the Yenadizze,

Till the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis,

Of their treasures had despoiled them,

Of the best of all their dresses,

Shirts of deer-skin, robes of ermine,

Belts of wampum, crests of feathers,

Warlike weapons, pipes and pouches.

Twenty eyes glared wildly at him,

Like the eyes of wolves glared at him.

Said the lucky Pau-Puk-Keewis:

“In my wigwam I am lonely,

In my wanderings and adventures

I have need of a companion,

Fain would have a Meshinauwa,

An attendant and pipe-bearer.

I will venture all these winnings,

All these garments heaped about me,

All this wampum, all these feathers,

On a single throw will venture

All against the young man yonder!”

’T was a youth of sixteen summers,

’T was a nephew of Iagoo;

Face-in-a-Mist, the people called him.

As the fire burns in a pipe-head

Dusky red beneath the ashes,

So beneath his shaggy eyebrows

Glowed the eyes of old Iagoo.

“Ugh!” he answered very fiercely;

“Ugh!” they answered all and each one.

Seized the wooden bowl the old man,

Closely in his bony fingers

Clutched the fatal bowl, Onagon,

Shook it fiercely and with fury,

Made the pieces ring together

As he threw them down before him.

Red were both the great Kenabeeks,

Red the Ininewug, the wedge-men,

Red the Sheshebwug, the ducklings,

Black the four brass Ozawabeeks,

White alone the fish, the Keego;

Only five the pieces counted!

Then the smiling Pau-Puk-Keewis

Shook the bowl and threw the pieces;

Lightly in the air he tossed them,

And they fell about him scattered;

Dark and bright the Ozawabeeks,

Red and white the other pieces,

And upright among the others

One Ininewug was standing,

Even as crafty Pau-Puk-Keewis

Stood alone among the players,

Saying, “Five tens! mine the game is!”

Twenty eyes glared at him fiercely,

Like the eyes of wolves glared at him,

As he turned and left the wigwam,

Followed by his Meshinauwa,

By the nephew of Iagoo,

By the tall and graceful stripling,

Bearing in his arms the winnings,

Shirts of deer-skin, robes of ermine,

Belts of wampum, pipes and weapons.

“Carry them,” said Pau-Puk-Keewis,

Pointing with his fan of feathers,

“To my wigwam far to eastward,

On the dunes of Nagow Wudjoo!”

Hot and red with smoke and gambling

Were the eyes of Pau-Puk-Keewis

As he came forth to the freshness

Of the pleasant Summer morning.

All the birds were singing gayly,

All the streamlets flowing swiftly,

And the heart of Pau-Puk-Keewis

Sang with pleasure as the birds sing,

Beat with triumph like the streamlets,

As he wandered through the village,

In the early gray of morning,

With his fan of turkey-feathers,

With his plumes and tufts of swan’s down,

Till he reached the farthest wigwam,

Reached the lodge of Hiawatha.

Silent was it and deserted;

No one met him at the doorway,

No one came to bid him welcome;

But the birds were singing round it,

In and out and round the doorway,

Hopping, singing, fluttering, feeding,

And aloft upon the ridge-pole

Kahgahgee, the King of Ravens,

Sat with fiery eyes, and, screaming,

Flapped his wings at Pau-Puk-Keewis.

“All are gone! the lodge is empty!”

Thus it was spake Pau-Puk-Keewis,

In his heart resolving mischief;—

“Gone is wary Hiawatha,

Gone the silly Laughing Water,

Gone Nokomis, the old woman,

And the lodge is left unguarded!”

By the neck he seized the raven,

Whirled it round him like a rattle,

Like a medicine-pouch he shook it,

Strangled Kahgahgee, the raven,

From the ridge-pole of the wigwam

Left its lifeless body hanging,

As an insult to its master,

As a taunt to Hiawatha.

With a stealthy step he entered,

Round the lodge in wild disorder

Threw the household things about him,

Piled together in confusion

Bowls of wood and earthen kettles,

Robes of buffalo and beaver,

Skins of otter, lynx, and ermine,

As an insult to Nokomis,

As a taunt to Minnehaha.

Then departed Pau-Puk-Keewis,

Whistling, singing through the forest,

Whistling gayly to the squirrels,

Who from hollow boughs above him

Dropped their acorn-shells upon him,

Singing gayly to the wood birds,

Who from out the leafy darkness

Answered with a song as merry.

Then he climbed the rocky headlands,

Looking o’er the Gitche Gumee,

Perched himself upon their summit,

Waiting full of mirth and mischief,

The return of Hiawatha.

Stretched upon his back he lay there;

Far below him plashed the waters,

Plashed and washed the dreamy waters;

Far above him swam the heavens,

Swam the dizzy, dreamy heavens;

Round him hovered, fluttered, rustled

Hiawatha’s mountain chickens,

Flock-wise swept and wheeled about him,

Almost brushed him with their pinions.

And he killed them as he lay there,

Slaughtered them by tens and twenties,

Threw their bodies down the headland,

Threw them on the beach below him,

Till at length Kayoshk, the sea-gull,

Perched upon a crag above them,

Shouted: “It is Pau-Puk-Keewis!

He is slaying us by hundreds!

Send a message to our brother,

Tidings send to Hiawatha!”