The Laughing Water. - Indian Legends.

A poem by Mary Gardiner Horsford

The Indian name for the Falls of St. Anthony signifies "Laughing Water," and here tradition says that a young woman of the Dahcotah tribe, the father of her children having taken another wife, unmoored her canoe above the fall, and placing herself and children in it, sang her death-song as she went over the foaming declivity.

The sun went down the west
As a warrior to his grave,
And touched with crimson hue
The "Laughing Water's" wave;
And where the current swept
A quick, convulsive flood,
Serene upon the brink
An Indian mother stood.

With calm and serious gaze
She watched the torrent blue
And then with skilful hand
Unmoored the birch canoe,
Seized the light oar, and placed
Her infants by her side,
And steered the fragile bark
On through the rushing tide.

Then fitfully and wild
In thrilling notes of woe
Swept down the rapid stream
The death-song sad and low;
And gathered on the marge,
From many a forest glen,
With frantic gestures rude,
The red Dahcotah men.
But onward sped the bark
Until it reached the height,
Where mounts the angry spray
And raves the water's might
And whirling eddies swept
Into the gulf below
The smiles of infancy
And youth's maturer glow;
The priestess of the rock
And white-robed surges bore
The wronged and broken heart
To the far off Spirit Shore.

And often when the night
Has drawn her shadowy veil,
And solemn stars look forth
Serenely pure and pale,
A spectre bark and form
May still be seen to glide,
In wondrous silence down
The Laughing Water's tide.
And mingling with the breath
Of low winds sweeping free,
The night-bird's fitful plaint,
And moaning forest tree,
Amid the lulling chime
Of waters falling there,
The death-song floats again
Upon the laden air.

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