Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE MARRIAGE OF POCAHONTAS, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: These episodes are taken
Last Line: Uttering cries that are almost human
Subject(s): Native Americans; Pocahontas (1595-1617); Indians Of America; American Indians; Indians Of South America


These episodes are taken
From Captain, sometimes Governor, John Smith's
Generall Historie of Virginia,
Netv England, and the Summer Isles.
How far he tells the truth,
Seeing that he was baiting hooks
To catch investors,
I leave to the reader's judgment.
This, for example,
From his epistle to a duchess,
To my mind shows a theatrical
Extravagant spirit:
When I was slave to the Turkes,
The beauteous Lady Tragabigzanda
Did all she could to secure me.
When I overcame the Bashaw of Nalbrits,
The charitable Lady Callamata
Supplyed my necessities.
In the utmost of many necessities,
That blessed Pocahontas,
The great Kings daughter of Virginia,
Oft saved my life."
Lady Tragabigzanda!
Lady Callamata!
Not to mention the Bashaw of Nalbrits!
But we may be too suspicious
In this too timid age.
When the world was expanding, language wore
Big breeches and odd jerkins and strange sleeves.
So then, this is the story
Of Smith's extremities
And King Powhatan and his dearest daughter.
1. Pocahontas Saves His Life
At last they brought him to Meronocomo
Where was Powhatan their Emperor.
More than two hundred of those grim courtiers
Stood wondering at him,
As he had been a monster,
Till Powhatan and his train
Had put themselves in their greatest braveries.
Before a fire upon a seat
The King sat covered with a robe
Of rarowcun skins, and all the tails hanging by.
On either side sat a young wench
Of sixteen or eighteen years;
Along each side of the house, two rows of men;
Behind them, as many women,
With all their heads and shoulders painted red;
Many of their heads bedecked
With the white down of birds;
But everyone with something,
And a great chain of beads about their necks.
At his entrance before the King
All the people gave a great shout.
The queen of Appamatuck
Brought him water to wash his hands;
Another, a bunch of feathers to dry them.
Having feasted him after their best barbarous manner,
A long consultation was held,
But the conclusion was
Two great stones were brought before Powhatan;
Then as many as could
Laid hands on the Captain
And dragged him to the stones
And thereon laid his head,
Being ready with their clubs to beat out his brains.
Pocahontas, the King's dearest daughter,
When no intreaty could prevail,
Got his head in her arms,
And laid her own upon his to save him from death.
Whereat the Emperor was contented
He should live to make him hatchets,
And her, bells, beads, and copper.
2. Savage Entertainment
Suddenly among the woods was heard
Such a hideous noise and shrieking
That the English betook them to their arms
Supposing Powhatan with all his power
Was come to surprise them.
But presently Pocahontas came,
Willing them to kill her
If any hurt was intended.
Then they were presented with this antic.
Thirty young women came naked out of the woods,
Covered only before and behind
With a few green leaves,
Their bodies all painted, but differing.
Their leader had buck's horns on her head,
An otter's skin at her girdle,
Another at her arm,
A quiver of arrows at her back,
A bow and arrows in her hand.
The next had in her hands a sword,
Another a club,
Another a pot-stick -
All horned alike,
The rest with their several devices.
These fiends with most hellish sounds and cries
Rushing from among the trees,
Cast themselves in a ring about the fire,
Singing and dancing with most excellent
111 variety,
Or falling into their infernal passions,
And solemnly again to sing and dance.
And as they entered, in like manner departed.
Having reaccomodated themselves,
They invited him to their lodgings,
Where he was no sooner in the house
But all these nymphs
More tormented him than ever
With crowding, pressing, and hanging about him,
Crying, "Love you not me?
Love you not me?"
This salutation ended, the feast was set,
Consisting of all the savage dainties,
Some attending, others singing and dancing.
Which mirth being ended,
With fire-brands for torches
They conducted him to his lodging.
3. A Dialogue of Peace and War
The subtle savage, Powhatan,
Said, "Many do inform me,
Your coming hither is not for trade,
But to invade my people and possess my country.
To free us of this fear
Leave aboard your weapons.
I know the difference of peace and war,
But now I am old and ere long must die.
What will it avail you to take by force
What you may quickly have by love?
Think you, I am so simple
Not to know it is better
To eat good meat,
Lie well, and sleep quietly,
Laugh and be merry with you,
Have copper, hatchets, or what I want,
Than to be forced to fly from all,
To lie cold in the woods,
Feed upon acorns, roots, and other trash,
And be so hunted by you
That I can neither rest, eat, nor sleep,
But my tired men must watch,
And if a twig break, everyone crieth
There commeth Captain Smith!'
And thus with miserable fear
End my miserable life,
Leaving my pleasures to such youths as you,
Which through your rashness
May quickly as miserably end.
Let this therefore assure you of our loves,
And every year our friendly trade
Shall furnish you with corn.
Then come not thus with your guns and swords
As to invade your foes."
The Captain answered,
Every day your promise is violated
By some of your subjects.
For your sake only we have curbed
Our thirsting desire of revenge.
As for danger from our enemies,
In such is our chief pleasure.
For your riches we have no use.
And if you should fly to the woods,
We shall not starve, as you conclude,
For we have means to find beyond your knowledge."
The King breathed his mind once more.
None doth deny to lie at my feet,
Or refuse to do what I desire,
But only you.
If you intend so friendly as you say,
Send hence your arms."
The Captain said,
Tomorrow I will leave my arms
And trust to your promise."
4. Pocahontas Reveals a Plot
Pocahontas, his dearest jewel,
In that dark night came through the irksome woods,
And told our Captain
Great cheer should be sent us by and by,
And when we were at supper
They that brought it would kill us all
With our own weapons.
But if that plot should fail,
Powhatan and all his power
Would after come to kill us.
Such things as she delighted in
He would have given her,
But with the tears running down her cheeks
She said she dared not be seen to have them,
For if Powhatan knew, she were but dead.
And so she ran away by herself as she came.
Within less than an hour
Came eight or ten lusty fellows
With platters of venison and other victual,
Very importunate to have us
Put out our matches
Whose smoke, they said, made them sick.
But the Captain made them taste every dish,
Which done he sent them back to Powhatan
To bid him make haste
For he was prepared for his coming.
5. She Is Betrayed and Captured
Captain Argall
Had promised Japazaws and his wife
A copper kettle
To bring her to him,
Promising no way to hurt her,
But keep her till they could conclude
A peace with her father.
And thus they betrayed the poor innocent
Pocahontas aboard,
Where they were kindly feasted in the cabin,
Japazaws treading oft on the Captain's foot
To remember he had done his part.
Then Argall told her she must go with him
And compound peace between her country and us
Before she ever should see Powhatan.
Whereat the Judas, Japazaws, and his wife
Began to howl and cry
As fast as Pocahontas.
Upon the Captain's fair persuasions
Pacifying her by degree,
Japazaws and his wife
With the kettle and other toys
Went merrily on shore.
6. Her Wedding
Master John Rolfe, an honest gentleman,
Had been in love with Pocahontas,
And she with him.
Which thing when I made known
By letter to Sir Thomas Dale,
He well approved.
And the bruit of this marriage coming to Powhatan,
It was acceptable to him,
As appeared by his sudden consent.
For within ten days
He sent Opachisco, her uncle, and two of his sons,
To see the manner of this marriage,
Which was about the first of April.
And ever since we have had
Friendly trade and commerce
As well with Powhatan himself
As all his subjects.
The true affection she bore for her husband,
And the strange apparitions and violent passions
He endured for her love, as he deeply protested,
Were wonderful.
And she openly renounced idolatry,
Confessed the faith of Christ,
And was baptised.
7. Powhatan Laughs
The first thing the King did,
He offered me a pipe of tobacco.
Then asked me how his brother
Sir Thomas Dale did, and his daughter
And unknown son,
And how they lived, loved and liked.
I told him his brother was well,
And his daughter so contented
She would not live again with him;
Whereat he laughed.
8. A Dream in the Woods of Virginia
I dreamed that in a wood,
Clasped as in silver when the moon
Shone clear, a woman stood.
Lady with horns,
And bow and arrows, and an otter skin,
Singing "Love you not me?" - I love you not.
Give up your naked ways,
Except a few green leaves,
Your cunning ambush where the coney plays.
Put on a skirt and hood.
Marry perhaps an English gentleman.
Though never English, you may still be good.
When I set out on my journey
It was high summer,
But now it was cold and snow lay on the ground.
I came to the great hall
Where Powhatan was sitting, with his braves
Beneath him in two rows along the wall.
I spoke. They seemed to hear.
They did not speak or move.
Then suddenly they shouted
And a wind
Rushed through the hall, the torches guttered out,
And the night was filled with sound.
IV
Whatever it is, it must have
A stomach that can digest
Rubber, coal, uranium, moons, poems.
Like the shark, it contains a shoe.
It must swim for miles through the desert
Uttering cries that are almost human.






Discover our Poem Explanations and Poet Analyses!


Other Poems of Interest...



Home: PoetryExplorer.net