Monday, February 16, 2009

Hiawatha's Canoe - Hiawatha's paddles

Continuing with my "Hiawatha's Canoe":
You may have noticed that the description of canoe construction contains no mention of how to make paddles or what wood was used. Longfellow explains:
"Paddles none had Hiawatha,
Paddles none he had or needed,
For his thoughts as paddles served him,
And his wishes served to guide him;
Swift or slow at will he glided,
Veered to right or left at pleasure."
What canoeist wouldn't envy such power? And what canoe livery operator or canoe expedition leader wouldn't like to have an employee such as Hiawatha's Friend?
Then he called aloud to Kwasind,
To his friend, the strong man Kwasind.
Saying, "Help me clear this river
Of its sunken logs and sand-bars."
Straight into the river Kwasind
Plunged as if he were an otter,
Dived as if he were a beaver,
Stood up to his waist in water,
To his armpits in the river,
Swam and shouted in the river,
Tugged at sunken logs and branches,
With his hands he scooped the sand-bars,
With his feet the ooze and tangle.
  And thus sailed my Hiawatha
Down the rushing Taquamenaw,
Sailed through all its bends and windings,
Sailed through all its deeps and shallows,
While his friend the strong man Kwasind,
Swam the deeps, the shallows waded.
Up and down the river went they,
In and out among the islands,
Cleared its bed of root and sand-bar,
Dragged the dead trees from its channel,
Made its passage safe and certain,
Made a pathway for the people,
From its springs among the mountains,
To the waters of Pauwating.*
To the bay of Taquamenaw.
* Sault Ste. Marie
NEXT: Schoolcraft's words.

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