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 Change-song
By Constance Lindsay Skinner
 
From “Songs of the Coast-dwellers”

  DEATH’S first snows are drifting on my cheek,
Pale are my lips
As the kiss of Cin-Uza;
I lie low and still.
Near me crouch my silent kinsmen,        5
They hold the breath and wait the hour of wailing;
They have wrapped the scarlet mourning blanket
Round the shoulders of the oldest man;
He has taken their sorrow.
He droops at my door        10
Like a bleeding hawk where the eagles have battled.
He is so old he feels not any grief,
His heart is cold,
In his ears no sound is,
And in his eyes no light.        15
Therefore have my kinsmen given him their griefs—
Because the dawn leaps clear into their eyes,
Because the sound of women’s feet
Rustling on the cedar mats when the torch is blown
Calls sweetly to their ears,        20
And their hearts are beating for the hunt.
They may not bear the sorrow of my passing,
We have known strong joys together!
 
  I take your loves, my kinsmen,
I leave with you no griefs!        25
Sing, my kinsmen, when ye swing me
To the topmost branches of the cedar.
Sweet-smelling arms of cedar, reach for me,
Tenderly receive me,
Hold me in the Last Caress under open sky!        30
Sing, my kinsmen, when the oldest man
Takes his lone trail through the forest.
He will wear no mourning-blanket when he comes again tomorrow!
He will say, “Rejoice—
I have borne your grief afar,        35
I have buried it deep,
The place is not known.”
The wind of your singing shall rock me
In the arms of my mother, the cedar.
Yet there is a sweeter song, my kinsmen;        40
It is the Change-Song of Supreme One.
I hear it now,
He chants it to my heart;
Because pale death has crossed my threshold, and has clasped my hand.
“Fear not,” sings Supreme One;        45
“I am making pure, making pure,
I destroy not life,
I am Life-maker!”
 
  The oldest man has entered the forest.
Ah! Ah! my kinsmen are wailing;        50
They saw me depart with Death
Into the White Change.
But I go on—and on!
And I sing the Change-Song of Supreme One:
Ha-k eohos la no-ya ai-a me la-la        55
Q’ oalahag’ i-h-e-e- la-wo!
 
 
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