Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
The Blue Duck
By Lew R. Sarett
 
A Chippewa Medicine Dance

HI'! Hi! Hi'! Hi!
    To be read with a vigorous lilt emphasizing the drum-beats
Hi'! Hi! Hi'! Hi!
Hee'-ya! Hói-ya!
Hee'-ya! Hói-ya!
Keetch'-ie, Má-ni-dó, Má-ni-dó,        5
The hunter-moon is chipping at his flints,
At his dripping bloody flints;
He is rising for the hunt,
And his face is red with blood
From the spears of many spruces,        10
And his blood is on the leaves that flutter down.
The Winter-maker, Beé-bo-an',
Is walking in the sky,
And his windy blanket rustles in the trees.
He is blazing out the trail        15
Through the fields of nodding rice
For the swift and whistling wings
Of his She-shé-be,
For the worn and weary wings
Of many duck—        20
Ho! plenty duck! plenty duck!
Ho! plenty, plenty duck!
 
Hi'! Hi!    More slowly and quietly, verging on a chant
Hi'! Hi!
Hoy-eeeeé! Ya!        25
Hoy-eeeeé! Ya!
Keetch'-ie, Má-ni-dó, Má-ni-dó,
The seasons have been barren.
In the moon of flowers and grass,
From the blighted berry patches        30
And the maple-sugar bush,
The hands of all my children
Came home empty, came home clean.
And the big rain of Nee-bín, the summer-maker,
Washed away the many little pa’tridge.        35
And even Ad-ik-kum'-aig, sweetest white-fish,
Went sulking all the summer moon,
Hiding in the deepest waters,
Silver belly in the mud;
And he would not walk into my nets. Ugh!        40
Thus the skin-sacks and the mo'-kuks
Hang within my teepee empty.
Soon the winter moon will come,    Slower—chant rising to a wail
Slipping through the silent timber,
Walking on the silent snow,        45
Stalking on the frozen lake.
Lean-bellied,
Squatting with his rump upon the ice,
The phantom wolf will fling his waitings to the stars.
Then Wéen-di-go, the Devil-spirit,        50
Whining through the lodge-poles,
Will clutch and shake my teepee,
Calling,    Melancholy wailing from this point on—higher and higher in pitch
Calling,
Calling as he sifts into my lodge;        55
And ghostly little shadow-arms
Will float out through the smoke-hole, in the night—
Leaping, tossing shadow-arms,
Little arms of little children,
Hungry hands of shadow-arms,        60
Clutching,
Clutching,
Clutching at the breast that is not there …
Shadow-arms and shadow-breasts,
Twisting,        65
Twisting,
Twisting in and twisting out,
On the ghastly clouds of smoke …
Riding on the whistling wind …
Riding on the whistling wind …        70
Riding on the whistling wind …
Starward.
Blow, blow, blow, Kee-wáy-din, North-wind,
Warm and gentle on my children,
Cold and swift upon the wild She-shé-be!        75
Ha-a-ah-eeeee-ooooooooo … Plenty duck …
Ha-a-a-ah-eeeeeee-ooooooooooo … Plenty duck …
 
Hi'! Hi! Hi'! Hi!    Faster, with a lilt. Dancing rhythm
Hi'! Hi! Hi'! Hi!
Keetch'-ie, Má-ni-dó, Má-ni-dó,        80
Blow on Ah-bi-tee'-bi many wings:
Wings of teal and wings of mallard,
Wings of green and blue.
My little lake lies waiting,
Singing for her blust’ry lover;        85
Dancing on the golden stranded shore
With many little moccasins,
Pretty little moccasins,
Beaded with her silver sands,
And with her golden pebbles.        90
And upon her gentle bosom
Lies Mah-no'-min, sweetest wild-rice,
Green and yellow,
Rustling blade and rippling blossom.
Hi-yee! Hi-yee! Blow on Ah-bi-tee'-bi plenty duck!        95
Ho! Plenty duck! Ho! Plenty duck!
 
Hi'! Hi! Hi'! Hi! Hi'! Hi! Hi'! Hi!
Hee'-ya! Hoi'-ya! Hee'-ya! Hoi'-ya!    Faster and louder—with abandon
Keetch'-ie, Má-ni-dó, Má-ni-dó,
I place this pretty duck upon your hand;        100
Upon its sunny palm and in its windy fingers.
Hi-yee! Blue and beautiful is he, beautifully blue;
Carved from sleeping cedar
When the stars like silver fishes
Were a-quiver in the rivers of the sky;        105
Carved from dripping cedar
When the Koo'-koo-koo' dashed hooting
At the furtive feet that rustled in the leaves,
And seasoned many moons, many moons!—
Ho! seasoned many, many, many sleeps!        110
Hi-yee! Blue and beautiful is he, beautifully blue.
Though his throat is choked with timber,
And he honks not on his pole,
And his wings are weak with hunger,
Yet his heart is plenty good!        115
Hi-yee! Hi-yee! His heart is plenty good, plenty good!
Hi-yee! Hi-yee! Hi-yee! His heart is good!
 
My heart like his is good!
 
Ugh! My tongue is straight!
 
Ho!        120
 
Ho!
 
 
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