In the reeds of the meadow the stag
lifts his branchy head stately and listens,
And the bobolink, perched on the flag,
her ear sidelong bends to the chorus.
From the brow of the Beautiful Isle,[AV]
half hid in the midst of the maples,
The sad-faced Winona, the while,
watched the boat growing less in the distance,
Till away in the bend of the stream,
where it turned and was lost in the lindens,
She saw the last dip and the gleam
of the oars ere they vanished forever.
[AU] “Burnt woods”—half-breeds.
[AV] Wita Waste—“Beautiful Island”; the Dakota name for Nicollet Island.
Still afar on the waters the song,
like bridal bells distantly chiming,
The stout, jolly boatmen prolong,
beating time with the stroke of their paddles;
And Winona’s ear, turned to the breeze,
lists the air falling fainter and fainter,
Till it dies like the murmur of bees
when the sun is aslant on the meadows.
Blow, breezes,—blow softly and sing
in the dark, flowing hair of the maiden;
But never again shall you bring
the voice that she loves to Winona.
Now a light rustling wind from the South
shakes his wings o’er the wide, wimpling waters:
Up the dark-winding river DuLuth
follows fast in the wake of Tamdoka.
On the slopes of the emerald shores
leafy woodlands and prairies alternate;
On the vine-tangled islands the flowers
peep timidly out at the white men;
In the dark-winding eddy the loon
sits warily watching and voiceless,
And the wild-goose, in reedy lagoon,
stills the prattle and play of her children.
The does and their sleek, dappled fawns
prick their ears and peer out from the thickets,
And the bison-calves play on the lawns,
and gambol like colts in the clover.
Up the still-flowing Wakpa Wakan’s
winding path through the groves and the meadows,
Now DuLuth’s brawny boatmen pursue
the swift-gliding bark of Tamdoka;
And hardly the red braves out-do
the stout, steady oars of the white men.
Now they bend to their oars in the race—
the ten tawny braves of Tamdoka;
And hard on their heels in the chase
ply the six stalwart oars of the Frenchmen.
In the stern of his boat sits DuLuth;
in the stern of his boat sits Tamdoka,
And warily, cheerily, both urge
the oars of their men to the utmost.
Far-stretching away to the eyes,
winding blue in the midst of the meadows,
As a necklet of sapphires that lies
unclaspt in the lap of a virgin,