E. Pauline Johnson.

Flint and feather : the complete poems of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) ; with introduction by Theodore Watts-Dunton ... ; online

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BERKELEY

LIBRARY

UNIvastTT OF
CALIFORNIA










~ '- ' " "^







. ' ^



FLINT AND FEATHER




The coiwieie poews

y (teKe^TiionwAKe)

With inTRODucTion By
TheoDORewMTs-Dunton

ADD ^ BlO^RAPhlCaLSKerCh
Of The aUThOR .

iLiusTRateD By
♦ j.R.seavey ♦




TORonro

The rciusson book company



FLINT AND FEATHER



Copyright Canada, 1917. Great Britain, 1912 and
By The Musson Book Company Ltd., Toronto



1917



Printed in Canada



First


Edition


printed


in


1912


Second


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in


1913


Third


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1914


Fourth


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Sixth


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1920


Seventh


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1921


Eighth


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1922


Ninth


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in


1924


Tenth


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Eleventh Edition


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1927


Twelfth


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printed


in


1928



IVUaik



CANADIAN PRODUCTION



^0
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS

THE DUKE OF CONNAUGHT

WHO IS HEAD CHIEF OF THE SIX NATIONS INDIANS

I INSCRIBE THIS BOOK BY HIS OWN

GRACIOUS PERMISSION



056



INTRODUCTION

IN MEMORIAM: PAULINE JOHNSON

I CANNOT say how deeply it touched me to learn
that Pauline Johnson expressed a wish on her death-
bed that I, living here in the mother country all
these miles away, should write something about
her. I was not altogether surprised, however, for
her letters to me had long ago shed a golden light
upon her peculiar character. She had made herself
believe, quite erroneously, that she was largely
indebted to me for her success in the literary world.
The letters I had from her glowed with this noble
passion : the delusion about her indebtedness to
me, in spite of all I could say, never left her. She
continued to foster and cherish this delusion.
Gratitude indeed was with her not a sentiment
merely, as with most of us, but a veritable passion.
And when we consider how rare a human trait true
gratitude is — the one particular characteristic in
which the lower animals put us to shame — it can
easily be imagined how I was touched to find that
this beautiful and grand Canadian girl remained
down to the very last moment of her life the im-
personation of that most precious of all virtues. I

vii



viii INTRODUCTION

have seen much of my fellow men and women, and
I never knew but two other people who displayed
gratitude as a passion — indulged in it, I might say,
as a luxury — and they were both poets. I can give
no higher praise to the " irritable genus." On this
account Pauline Johnson will always figure in my
memory as one of the noblest minded of the human
race.

Circumstances made my personal knowledge of
her all too slight. Our spiritual intimacy, however,
was very strong, and I hope I shall be pardoned for
saying a few words as to how our friendship began.
It was at the time of Vancouver's infancy, when
the population of the beautiful town of her final
adoption was less than a twelfth of what it now is,
and less than a fiftieth part of what it is soon going
to be.

In 1906 I met her during one of her tours. How
well I remember it ! She was visiting London in
company with Mr. McRaye — making a tour of
England — reciting Canadian poetry. And on this
occasion Mr. McRaye added to the interest of the
entertainment by rendering in a perfectly marvellous
way Dr. Drummond's Habitant poems. It was
in the Steinway Hall, and the audience was en-
thusiastic. When, after the performance, my wife
and I went into the room behind the stage to con-
gratulate her, I was quite affected by the warm and
affectionate greeting that I got from her. With
moist eyes she told her friends that she owed her
literary success mainly to me.

And now what does the reader suppose that I



INTRODUCTION ix

had done to win all these signs of gratitude ? I
had simply alluded — briefly alluded — in the London
" Athenreum " some years before, to her genius and
her work. Never surely was a reviewer so royally
overpaid. Her allusion was to a certain article
of mine on Canadian poetry which was written
in 1889, and which she had read so assiduously
that she might be said to know it by heart : she
seemed to remember every word of it.

Now that I shall never see her face again it is
with real emotion that I recur to this article and to
the occasion of it. Many years ago — nearly a
quarter of a century — a beloved friend whom I still
mourn, Norman Maccoll, editor of the " Athenaeum,"
sent me a book called " Songs of the Great Do-
minion," selected and edited by the poet, William
Douw Lighthall. Maccoll knew the deep interest
I have always taken in matters relating to Greater
Britain, and especially in everything relating to
Canada. Even at that time I ventured to prophesy
that the great romance of the twentieth century
would be the growth of the mighty world-power of
Canada, just as the great romance of the nineteenth
century had been the inauguration of the nascent
power that sprang up among Britain's antipodes.
He told me that a leading article for the journal
upon some weighty subject was wanted, and asked
me whether the book was important enough to be
worth a leader. I turned over its pages and soon
satisfied myself as to that point. I found the book
rich in poetry — true poetry — by poets some of
whom have since then come to great and world-



X INTRODUCTION

wide distinction, all of it breathing, more or less,
the atmosphere of Canada : that is to say Anglo-
Saxon Canada. But in the writings of one poet
alone I came upon a new note — the note of the
Red Man's Canada. This was the poet that most
interested me — Pauline Johnson. I quoted her
lovely canoe song " In the Shadows," which will be
found on page 72 of this volume. I at once sat
down and wrote a long article, which could have
been ten times as long, upon a subject so suggestive
as that of Canadian poetry.

As it was this article of mine which drew this
noble woman to me, it has, since her death, assumed
an importance in my eyes which it intrinsically does
not merit. I might almost say that it has become
sacred to me among my fugitive writings : this is
why I cannot resist the temptation of making a lew
extracts from it. It seems to bring the dead poet
very close indeed to me. Moreover, it gives me an
opportunity of re-saying what I then said of the
great place Canadian poetry is destined to hold in
the literature of the English-speaking race. I had
often before said in the " Athenaeum," and in the
" Encyclopaedia Britannica " and elsewhere, that all
true poetry — perhaps all true literature — must be
a faithful reflex either of the life of man or of the
life of Nature.

Well, this article began by remarking that the
subject of Colonial verse, and the immense future
before the English-speaking poets, is allied to a
question that is very great, the adequacy or in-
adequacy of English poetry — British, American, and



INTRODUCTION xi

Colonial — to the destiny of the race that produces
it. The article enunciated the thesis that if the
English language should not in the near future
contain the finest body of poetry in the world, the
time is now upon us when it ought to do so ; for
no other literature has had that variety of poetic
material which is now at the command of English-
speaking poets. It pointed out that at the present
moment this material comprises much of the riches
peculiar to the Old World and all the riches peculiar
to the New. It pointed out that in reflecting the
life of man the English muse enters into competition
with the muse of every other European nation,
classic and modern ; and that, rich as England
undoubtedly is in her own historic associations, she
is not so rich as are certain other European countries,
where almost every square yard of soil is so sug-
gestive of human associations that it might be made
the subject of a poem. To wander alone, through
scenes that Homer knew, or through the streets
that were hallowed by the footsteps ot Dante, is
an experience that sends a poetic thrill through the
blood. For it is on classic ground only that the
Spirit of Antiquity walks. And it went on to ask
the question, " If even England, with all her riches of
historic and legendary associations, is not so rich
in this kind of poetic material as some parts of the
European Continent, what shall be said of the new
Enghsh worlds — Canada, the United States, the
Australias, the South African Settlements, etc. ? "
Histories they have, these new countries — in the
development of the human race, in the growth of



xn INTRODUCTION

the great man, Mankind — histories as important,
no doubt, as those of Greece, Italy, and Great
Britain. Inasmuch, however, as the sweet Spirit
of Antiquity knows them not, where is the poet with
wings so strong that he can carry them off into the
"ampler ether," the "diviner air" where history
itself is poetry ?

Let me repeat here, at the risk of seeming garrulous,
a few sentences in that article which especially
appealed to Pauline Johnson, as she told me :

" Part and parcel of the very life of man is the senti-
ment about antiquity. Irrational it may be, if you
will, but never wiU it be stifled. Physical science
strengthens rather than weakens it. Social science,
hate it as it may, cannot touch it. In the socialist,
William Morris, it is stronger than in the most con-
servative poet that has ever lived. Those who express
wonderment that in these days there should be the old
human playthings as bright and captivating as ever —
those who express wonderment at the survival of all
the delightful features of the European raree-show —
have not realised the power of the Spirit of Antiquity,
and the power of the sentiment about him — that senti-
ment which gives birth to the great human dream about
hereditary merit and demerit upon which society —
royalist or republican — is built. What is the use of
telling us that even in Grecian annals there is no kind
of heroism recorded which you cannot match in the
histories of the United States and Canada ? W^hat is
the use of telling us that the travels of Ulysses and of
Jason are as nothing in point of real romance compared
with Captain Phillip's voyage to the other side of the
world, when he led his little convict-laden fleet to



INTRODUCTION xiii

Botany Bay — a bay as unknown almost as any bay
in Laputa — that voyage which resulted in the founding
of a cluster of great nations any one of whose mammoth
millionaires could now buy up Ilium and the Golden
Fleece combined if offered in the auction mart ? The
Spirit of Antiquity knows not that captain. In a
thousand years' time, no doubt, these things may be
as ripe for poetic treatment as the voyage of the Argo-
nauts ; but on a planet like this a good many changes
may occiu before an epic poet shall arise to sing them.
Mr. Lighthall would remind us, did we in England need
reminding, that Canada owes her very existence at this
moment to a splendid act of patriotism — the withdrawal
out of the rebel colonies of the British loyalists after the
war of the revolution. It is ' the noblest epic migration
the world has ever seen,' says Mr. Lighthall, ' more
loftily epic than the retirement of Pius ^neas from
Ilion.' Perhaps so, but at present the dreamy Spirit
of Antiquity knows not one word of the story. In a
thousand years' time he will have heard of it, possibly,
and then he will carefully consider those two ' retire-
ments ' as subjects for epic poetry."

The article went on to remark that until the
Spirit of Antiquity hears of this latter retirement
and takes it into his consideration, it must, as poetic
material, give way to another struggle which he
persists in considering to be greater still — the in-
vestment by a handful of Achaians of a little town
held by a handful of Trojans. It is the power of this
Spirit of Antiquity that tells against English poetry
as a reflex of the life of man. In Europe, in which, as
Pericles said, ' ' The whole earth is the tomb of illus-
trious men," the Spirit of Antiquity is omnipotent.



xiv INTRODUCTION

The article then discussed the main subject of
the argument, saying how very different it is when
we come to consider poetic art as the reflex of the
life of Nature. Here the muse of Canada ought to
be, and is, so great and strong. It is not in the old
countries, it is in the new, that the poet can adequately
reflect the life of Nature. It is in them alone that
he can confront Nature's face as it is, uncoloured by
associations of history and tradition. What Words-
worth tried all his life to do, the poets of Canada,
of the Australias, of the Cape, have the opportunity
of doing. How many a home-bounded Englishman
must yearn for the opportunity now offered by the
Canadian Pacific Railway of seeing the great virgin
forests and prairies before settlement has made
much progress — of seeing them as they existed
before even the foot of the Red Man trod them —
of seeing them without that physical toil which
only a few hardy explorers can undergo. It is hard
to realise that he who has not seen the vast unsettled
tracts of the British Empire knows Nature only
imder the same aspect as she has been known by
all the poets from Homer to our own day. And
when I made the allusion to Pauline Johnson's
poems which brought me such reward, I quoted
" In the Shadows." The poem fascinated me — it
fairly haunted me. I could not get it out of my
head ; and I remember that I was rather severe on
Mr. Lighthall for only giving us two examples of a
poet so rare — so fuU of the spirit of the open air.

Naturally I turned to his introductory remarks
to see who Pauline Johnson was. I was not at all



INTRODUCTION xv

surprised to find that she had Indian blood in her
veins, but I was surprised and delighted to find that
she belonged to a famous Indian family — the
Mohawks of Brantford. The Mohawks of Brant-
ford ! that splendid race to whose unswerving
loyalty during two centuries not only Canada, but
the entire British Empire owes a debt that can never
be repaid.

After the appearance of my article I got a beauti-
ful letter from Pauline Johnson, and I found that I
had been fortunate enough to enrich my life with a
new friendship.

And now as to the genius of Pauline Johnson :
it was being recognised not only in Canada, but all
over the great Continent of the West. Since 1889
I have been following her career with a glow of
admiration and sympathy. I have been delighted
to find that this success of hers had no damaging
effect upon the grand simplicity of her nature.
Up to the day of her death her passionate sympathy
with the aborigines of Canada never flagged, as
shown by such poems as " The Cattle Thief "
(page 12), " The Pilot of the Plains " (page 9), " As
Red Men Die " (page 6), and many another. During
all this time, however, she was cultivating herself
in a thousand ways — taking interest in the fine arts,
as witness her poem "The Art of Alma-Tadema"
(page 131), Her native power of satire is shown in
the lines written after Dreyfus was exiled, called
" 'Give us Barabbas ' " (page 117). She had also a
pretty gift of vers de societe, as seen in her Hnes
" Your Mirror Frame " (page 119).
h



xvl



INTRODUCTION



Her death is not only a great loss to those who
knew and loved her : it is a great loss to Canadian
literature and to the Canadian nation. I must
think that she will hold a memorable place among
poets in virtue of her descent and also in virtue of
the work she has left behind, small as the quantity
of that work is. I believe that Canada will, in future
times, cherish her memory more and more, for of
all Canadian poets she was the most distinctly a
daughter of the soil, inasmuch as she inherited the
blood of the great primeval race now so rapidly
vanishing, and of the greater race that has sup-
planted it.

In reading the description of the funeral in the
" News- Advertiser," I was specially touched by the
picture of the large crowd of silent Red Men who
lined Georgia Street, and who stood as motionless
as statues all through the service, and until the
funeral cortege had passed on the way to the
cemetery. This must have rendered the funeral
the most impressive and picturesque one of any
poet that has ever lived.

Theodore Watts-Dunton.



The Pines,

Putney Hill.

zoth August, 1913.



AUTHOR'S FOREWORD

This collection of verse I have named " Flint and
Feather " because of the association of ideas. Fhnt
suggests the Red man's weapons of war ; it is the
arrow tip, the heart-quality of mine own people ;
let it therefore apply to those poems that touch
upon Indian Ufe and love. The lyrical verse herein
is as a

" Skyward floating feather.
Sailing on summer air."

And yet that feather may be the eagle plume that
crests the head of a warrior chief ; so both flint and
feather bear the hall-mark of my Mohawk blood.

E. P. J.



xvfl



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

A LEGEND OE THE NORTHWOODS . Frontispiece

E. PAULINE JOHNSON (TEKAHIONWAKE) . . XXvi

"CHIEFSWOOD," E. PAULINE JOHNSON'S BIRTH-
PLACE ...... xxviii

MEMORIAL EOUNTAIN IN STANLEY PARK, VAN-



COUVER, B.C. .
THE CATTLE THIEE .
THE SONG MY PADDLE SINGS
THISTLE-DAWN
THE CATTLE COUNTRY >
THE TRAIN DOGS ,;



>J



Si






XXVlll

12

. 32
. 101
. 138
.. 148



i



CONTENTS



INTRODUCTION .
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH



THE WHITE WAMPUM



OJISTOH ....

AS RED MEN DIE

THE PILOT OF THE PLAINS

THE CATTLE THIEF .

A CRY FROM AN INDIAN WIFE

DAWENDINE

WOLVERINE

THE VAGABONDS

THE SONG MY PADDLE SINGS

THE CAMPER .

AT HUSKING TIME

WORKWORN

EASTER ....

ERIE WATERS .

THE FLIGHT OF THE CROWS

MOONSET ....

MARSHLANDS .

JOE ....

SHADOW RIVER

RAINFALL

xix



PAOB

vii
xxiii



3
6

9

12

17

20
24
29

31

33

34

35

37

39
40

42

43

44
46

48



XX


CONTENTS








rAo«


UNDER CANVAS








49


THE birds' lullaby








51


OVERLOOKED .


• «








53


FASTING .











54


CHRISTMASTIDE


» • 1








57


CLOSE BY


* • 4








58


THE IDLERS


» • 4








6o


AT SUNSET


> • 1








. 63


PENSEROSO


» • 4








. 64


RE-VOYAGE


1 • 4








. 65


BRIER


» • <








. 67


WAVE-WON


» • I








. 68


THE HAPPY HUNTING


GROUNDS .








. 70


IN THE SHADOWS


» •








. 72


NOCTURNE


» •








• 74


MY ENGLISH LETTER











. 76



CANADIAN BORN

CANADIAN BORN

WHERE LEAPS THE STE. MARIE

HARVEST TIME .

LADY LORGNETTE

LOW TIDE AT ST. ANDRE^"'S

BEYOND THE BLUE .

THE MARINER .

LULLABY OF THE IROQU07*

THE CORN HUSKER .



81

83

84

85
87

88
92
94
95



CONTENTS

PRAIRIE GREYHOUNDS

GOLDEN — OF THE SELKIRKS

THE SONGSTER .....

THISTLE-DOWN

THE RIDERS OF THE PLAINS

SILHOUETTE

A PRODIGAL

"THFOUGH TIME AND BITTER DISTANCE

AT HALF-MAST .....

THE SLEEPING GIANT

THE QUILL WORKER ....

GUARD OF THE EASTERN GATE .

AT crow's nest PASS

" GIVE US BARABBAS "...

YOUR MIRROR FRAME

THE CITY AND THE SEA ,

FIRE-FLOWERS

A TOAST ..,,.,

LADY ICICLE

THE LEGEND OF QU'APPELLE VALLEY ,

THE ART OF ALMA-TADEMA

GOOD-BYE



XXI

rAGB

96

98

100
lOI
102

106
107
109
112

116
117
119
121
122
123

127

132



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS



IN GREY DAYS . .

BRANDON

THE INDIAN CORN PLANTER

THE CATTLE COUNTRY .



T36

138



xxii CONTENTS

autumn's orchestra :









PAOB


THE OVERTURE .






. 139


THE FIRS . . . .






. 139


MOSSES






. 139


THE VINE .






. 140


THE MAPLE






. 140


HARE-.nELL






. 140


THE Gt(^NT OAK






. 141


ASPENS






. 141


FINALE






. 141


THE TRAIL TO LILLOOET .






. 142


CANADA ....






. 144


THE LIFTING OF THE MIST






. 145


THE HOMING BEE






. 146


THE LOST LAGOON .






. 147


THE TRAIN DOGS






. 148


THE king's CONSORT






. 149


WHEN GEORGE WAS KING .






. 151


DAY DAWN






. 153


THE ARCHER .






. 155


THE WOLF






. 157


THE MAN IN CHRYSANTH' MUM I


.AND




. I5H


CALGARY OF THE PLAINS .






. 160


THE BALLAD OF THE YAADA






. 162


" AND HE SAID, FIGHT ON "








. 166



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) is the
youngest child of a family of four born to the late
G. H. M. Johnson (Onwanonsyshon), Head Chief of
the Six Nations Indians, and his wife, Emily S.
Howells, a lady of pure English parentage, her birth-
place being Bristol, England, but the land of her
adoption was Canada.

Chief Johnson was of the renowned Mohawk tribe,
and of the " Blood Royal," being a scion of one of
the fifty noble famiUes which composed the historical
confederation founded by Hiawatha upwards of four
hundred years ago, and known at that period as the
Brotherhood of the Five Nations, but which was
afterwards named the Iroquois by the early French
missionaires and explorers. These Iroquois Indians
have from the earliest times been famed for their
loyalty to the British Crown, in defence of which
they fought against both French and Colonial Revo-
lutionists ; and for which fealty they were granted
the magnificent lands bordering the Grand River
in the County of Brant, Ontario, and on which the
tribes still live.

It was upon this Reserve, on her father's estate.
" Chiefswood," that PauUne Johnson was born,

xxiii



xxiv BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

And it is inevitable that the loyalty to Britain and
Britain's flag which she inherited from her Red
ancestors, as well as from her English mother,
breathes through both her prose and poetic writings.

At an extremely early age this little Indian girl
evinced an intense love of poetry ; and even before
she could write composed many httle childish jingles
about her pet dogs and cats. She was also very
fond of learning by heart anything that took her
fancy, and would memorize, apparently without
effort, verses that were read to her. A telling in-
stance of this early love of poetry may be cited,
when on one occasion, while she was yet a tiny
child of four, a friend of her father's, who was going
to a distant city, asked her what he could bring
her as a present, and she replied, " Verses, please."

At twelve years of age she was writing fairly
creditable poems, but was afraid to offer them for
publication, lest in after years she might regret
their almost inevitable crudity. So she did not
publish anything until after her school days were
ended.

Her education was neither extensive nor elabo-
rate, and embraced neither High School nor College.
A nursery governess for two years at home, three
years at an Indian day school half a mile from her
home, and two years in the central school of the
City of Brantford was the extent of her educational
training. But besides this she acquired a wide
general knowledge, having been, through childhood
and early girlhood, a great reader, especially of
poetry. Before she was twelve years old she had



—-*-'-* "'—



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH xxv

read every line of Scott's poems, every line of Long-
fellow, much of Byron, Shakespeare, and such books
as Addison's " Spectator," Foster's Essays and
Owen Meredith.

The first periodicals to accept her poems and
place them before the public were " Gems of Poetry,"
a small magazine published in New York, and " The
Week," established by the late Professor Gold win
Smith, of Toronto, the " New York Independent,"
and " Toronto Saturday Night," Since then she has
contributed to "The Athenaeum," " The Academy,"
"Black and White," "The Pall Mall Gazette,"
" The Daily Express," and " Canada," all of London,
England ; " The Review of Reviews," Paris, France ;
" Harper's Weekly," " New York Independent,"
"Outing," "The Smart Set," "Boston Trans-
cript," "The Buffalo Express," "Detroit Free
Press," " The Boys' World " (David C. Cook Publish-
ing Co., Elgin, Illinois), "The Mothers' Magazine "
(David C. Cook Publishing Co.), " The Canadian
Magazine," " Toronto Saturday Night," and " The
Province," Vancouver, B.C.

In 1892 the opportunity of a lifetime came to this
young versifier, when Frank Yeigh, the President
of the Young Liberals' Club, of Toronto, conceived
the idea of having an evening of Canadian literature,


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