Minnetonka[BY]

A poem by Hanford Lennox Gordon

I sit once more on breezy shore, at sunset in this glorious June,
I hear the dip of gleaming oar, I list the singers' merry tune.
Beneath my feet the waters beat, and ripple on the polished stones,
The squirrel chatters from his seat; the bag-pipe beetle hums and drones.
The pink and gold in blooming wold, the green hills mirrored in the lake!
The deep, blue waters, zephyr-rolled, along the murmuring pebbles break.
The maples screen the ferns, and lean the leafy lindens o'er the deep;
The sapphire, set in emerald green, lies like an Orient gem asleep.
The crimson west glows like the breast of Rhuddin[CA] when he pipes in May,
As downward droops the sun to rest, and shadows gather on the bay.
In amber sky the swallows fly and sail and circle o'er the deep;
The light-winged night-hawks whir and cry; the silver pike and salmon leap.
The rising moon, o'er isle and dune, looks laughing down on lake and lea;
Weird o'er the waters shrills the loon; the high stars twinkle in the sea.
From bank and hill the whippowil sends piping forth his flute-like notes,
And clear and shrill the answers trill from leafy isles and silver throats.
The twinkling light on cape and height; the hum of voices on the shores;
The merry laughter on the night; the dip and plash of frolic oars,
These tell the tale. On hill and dale the cities pour their gay and fair;
Along the sapphire lake they sail, and quaff like wine the balmy air.
'Tis well. Of yore from isle and shore the smoke of Indian teepees[CB] rose;
The hunter plied the silent oar; the forest lay in still repose.
The moon-faced maid, in leafy glade, her warrior waited from the chase;
The nut-brown, naked children played, and chased the gopher on the grass.
The dappled fawn on wooded lawn, peeped out upon the birch canoe,
Swift-gliding in the gray of dawn along the silent waters blue.
In yonder tree the great Wanm-dee[CC] securely built her spacious nest;
The blast that swept the landlocked sea[CD] but rocked her clamorous babes to rest.
By grassy mere the elk and deer gazed on the hunter as he came;
Nor fled with fear from bow or spear; "so wild were they that they were tame."
Ah, birch canoe, and hunter, too, have long forsaken lake and shore;
He bade his fathers' bones adieu and turned away forevermore.
But still, methinks, on dusky brinks the spirit of the warrior moves;
At crystal springs the hunter drinks, and nightly haunts the spot he loves.
For oft at night I see the light of lodge-fires on the shadowy shores,
And hear the wail some maiden's sprite above her slaughtered warrior pours.
I hear the sob, on Spirit Knob,[BZ] of Indian mother o'er her child;
And on the midnight waters throb her low yun-he-he's[CE] weird and wild:
And sometimes, too, the light canoe glides like a shadow o'er the deep
At midnight when the moon is low, and all the shores are hushed in sleep.
Alas, Alas! for all things pass; and we shall vanish too, as they;
We build our monuments of brass, and granite, but they waste away.

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