Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SQUAW, by JOHN CHIPMAN FARRAR



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SQUAW, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Who am I? A hated thing, a squaw
Last Line: For who am I? A hated thing, a squaw.
Subject(s): Native Americans - Women; Squaws


Who am I? A hated thing, a Squaw,
Patterned and pressed into a man-made mold,
Only to grind the corn, only to sow,
Only to watch, to wait, to wonder here.
When the great camp-fires touch the drooping stars,
And the wild night things cry across the moon --
I to the watch, I to the mourners, go.
Heavy in heart, weary in foot and womb,
Bearer of burdens,
Bearer of children. So
Must I go toward the rainbow, laden low.
Who am I? A hated thing, a Squaw.

Why must I press my hand across my mouth
To keep the cry of hate back in my soul
Why must I lie awake and long to strike
The quiet face of him who lies beside?

Mountains and hills, you, too, lie passive here;
And valleys there below, you wonder, too.
Do you not long to turn your hearts to god,
To dance at noon-tide, and to love at night?

And when the hunt gods rustling through the marsh
When the quick deer's brown eyes peer through the fern,
I would go softly, I would go swiftly, too,
Soft on the moss, swift and soft on the hills,
Long stride, swift stride, strong stride, true stride,
I the proud hunter,
I the proud marksman, I,
Bearer of bows and arrows,
Braver than all,
I to bring home the dappled doe to roast.
But who am I? A hated thing, a squaw.

When I have watched the red limbs gleam and pass,
When the bright arrows quiver in the flame,
Tom-tom and war-cry beat against my heart,
Devils of hate tear down my weaknesses.
Bring the red paint! Oh, bring the weapons here!
I would smear boldly on my naked limbs
Signals of blood, signals of hate, of war,
Dancing to madness in the open fire.
Beat your drums, O war chiefs! beat your drums!
Beat your drums, O war chiefs! beat your drums!
Hate to hate, arrow to arrow, beat,
Beat your drums, O war chiefs! beat your drums,
O war chiefs! beat your drums, O war chief! beat your drums!
Drums, drums, flames, flames, I,
Foot to foot and naked breast to breast,
Beating, struggling, fighting, dying, I,
Braver than braves whose great hands dare the sun;
I, the warrior, I the savior of tribes,
I the hero of battles, equal of gods!
But who am I? A hated thing, a squaw.

So the sun sinks,
And so must I return.
Sink into stillness by the wigwam door.
Why should I stay quiet through the years,
Under his hand, under his feet?
O soul,
O woman's soul, why must you dream and wait?

Break from his hand!
Break from his hand!
Go free!
Go cast yourself before the ready wind!
Let your loose soul blow out on open ways!

Down and down below the great rocks lie.
I shall flee from him, cast myself below.
If I should step, a step so tiny here,
I would go freely, freely to the winds,
My old soul lying on new wings of god.

Down, down -- one step --
Why should I wait and dream

Down, down -- one step --
Why should I wonder here?

Down, down -- one step --
Down, down!

Down -- now, oh, hear!
Hear on the path,
Strongly and strongly there,
Pound of great strides.
How strong, how strong and brave!
Back from the hunt he comes,
O strong, O brave!
Shall I turn humbly now to meet his arms?

Down, down -- one step --
No! no!

There is no question, there is no waiting now;
Only I know I need his great arms here,
Only I know I need his hot lips here,
Only I know he is the life of me.
Wars, hunts, souls, bodies, hearts, and gods
Are mingled in the burning of his eyes.
Take me, beat me, crush me,
Love me -- so!
Break me beneath the stone that grinds the corn!
I am your field, I am your broken field.
Take, then, the harvest;
Take -- while I forget.
For who am I? A hated thing, a squaw.





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