The Poetry of Ellin Anderson

PASSACONAWAY

Ellin Anderson
 

The valley wind, the lonely wind, the wind is not our own:
His might and song by right belong unto himself alone.
But at the hour when birds rejoice, where sleeplessly I lay,
Upon the wind, I heard the voice of Passaconaway.
In words sky-deep and freshet-strong, about the break of day,
By fate or choice, I heard the voice of Passaconaway.

The Chief of Chiefs knew many griefs when strangers roamed these lands.
Some came from need, but some from greed, to fight the warrior bands.
And now, in place of fertile crops, where faith and peace are twinned,
They plant steel on the mountaintops, and seek to reap the wind.
Thus, with a sound like thunder, when the early dawn was gray,
Rang out the voice, the mighty voice of Passaconaway:

    “Who dares to scalp the mountains? Do they think that I’m asleep?
At Pennacook, no rest I took, eternal watch I keep
From Mount Agiocochook, where my soul rose up in flames
To realms of the Great Spirit, who is known by many names.
The cave on Agamenticus was not my final rest:
Beyond the grave, I seek to save the places I love best.

“I made dead serpents quicken, drew green leaves from winter wood,
At my desire, both mist and fire would cloak me where I stood.
No stormy breeze made rocks and trees join in the sacred dance:
My will alone made beast and stone sway in a mystic trance.
Within my hand, at my command, warm water turned to snow,
Yet there is greater medicine than all the sachems know.

“From shores of Narragansett, and the People of the Dawn,
To fair Winnipesaukee, and the haunts of deer and fawn,
At Amoskeag, where granite craigs hold music of the falls,
Beside the laughing Merrimack, with choirs of seabird-calls,
I spoke of love and brotherhood, on every path I took,
Because I met John Eliot, who had a Holy Book.

“He shared the truth eternal, told of every sacred thing;
That saint in black held nothing back, proclaiming Christ is King.
With final breath, when facing death, he spoke of worlds to be,
And in that hour, all worldly power I gave up willingly.
Yet here above, I still feel love for all the days gone by:
Though in his debt, I won’t forget: Child of the Bear am I.

“And where the bears are driven out lie many hidden graves:
Who wrecks the stones destroys the bones of princesses and braves.
They chose to lie beneath the sky, close to the King of Kings,
And they alone approach the Throne upon an eagle’s wings!
Their sagamon, whose soul lives on, shall walk the earth again
To save the tribes from fraud and bribes, and lying, wicked men.

“This would I teach the human leech who robs the sky of breath:
Wind through the claws of Brother Bear is herald to a death!
Of power they know nothing, nor of Nature, nor Man’s Fall;
The faithful sun warms everyone, and shines upon us all.
Let us preserve what God has wrought, let desecration cease,
  Do what is right, and end this blight — restore the days of peace!”

I staggered to the window, where I stumbled to my knees:
The shadow of a winged man was covering the trees.
As it rose higher, blinding fire cloaked the hills below;
The evil towers, like Satan’s flowers, were burning in a row.
And as they fell, each peak and dell grew lovely as before;
    Dawn filled the sky; the wind was high, but told me nothing more.

© 2008 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be copied or used in any way
without written permission from the author.

New Book: The Apple-Eves


Young Barret O'Bara
Seabrook
Tiger and Blue Jewel

Winter's Hill
Maple-Key Song
November in Camelot

Wassail Song
Veleda
Cinderella
The Rooster at Midsummer
Liberty Enlightens the People

The Leap
The Goldfinch
Three Bears
Song of the Lily
White Tree at Twilight
The Christmas Tree

Song-Sparrow
Grand Bois du Nord
The Owl
Moth Summer
Verticordia
The Little God of Joy
Pear-Petals
Photographing the Moon
A Rabbit
Rose, Do You Know
Lorelei
Persephone

Avalon
The Harvest Chorus
The Maple Mask
Ghost Cardinal
The Little Heath-Rose
Found
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Song for the Harp

The Spinner
The Prayer of Cephalus
Circe and Ulysses
The Black Arts
Tristan and Isolde & Jupiter's Two Casks
Nectanebus

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More Poems by Ellin Anderson

The Little Mermaid
Vermeer
Anne's Hearth