The Statue

Near the shores of Minnesota
Stands a statue of the couple.

Holding on to Minnehaha
Lovely maiden Minnehaha
Stands the warrior Hiawatha
Hiawatha Great Lakes warrior
Of Ojibwa tribal custom

Wants a young Dakota woman
Much against the given wisdom
Of the Chieftain and the Shaman

These two smitten native lovers
Long ago their legend left as
Two defiant lovers racing
Through the forest, braving snow storm
They create a brave new wind song

Minnehaha, Laughing Water
Lived nearby the waterfall shore
Stole the heart of Hiawatha
Even though their love forbidden
Due to war that raged between tribes

War was waged between Ojibwa
And her tribe of the Dakota
Making theirs a cursed profane love

“Nevermore” her father’s blessing
“Nevermore” his father’s blessing

Sharing love between two lovers
Followed him, her handsome warrior
Hiawatha risking anger
Took her, braving tribal action
Through the woods along the way
Carried her across the rivers
Carried her past raging waters
Brought her home to peace at long last

 

Author Notes:

This is a statue Hiawatha and Minnehaha, located at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It commemorates the “Song of Hiawatha” written by a local author and poet, William Wadsworth Longfellow, whose house is also preserved on the grounds. The statue was placed there in 1911. He wrote an epic poem about Hiawatha in 1855 that starts with those famous lines, “On the shores of Gitchee-Gumee, by the shining Big-Sea-Water”. It was a long poem, written in Trochaic Tetrameter. There were 22 chapters to the book. Hiawatha was a heroic, larger-than-life legend among the Native Americans, much like Paul Bunyan. Longfellow captured some of them in his poem. The marriage to Minnehaha, bringing peace between the tribes in just one of them. I tried to capture that here in my own words, but mimicking the style used of Longfellow.

The poem is written in trochee, which is the opposite accent of iambic meter. Instead of a da DUM da DUM cadence, where the line ends with a strong accent. It has a tempo DA dum Da dum, where the line ends in a soft accent. It is contained in four poetic feet (8 syllables), or tetrameter. Therefore, trochaic tetrameter. Longfellow didn’t use a rhyme scheme in his poem. It is characterized by Finnish language traits and story telling, that lend themselves well to Native American speech patterns too.

This photograph was taken by the author himself on January 23, 2016.

Synergy of Poetry and Verse. Author, Poet, Photographer

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