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HOW GLOOSKAP BROUGHT THE SUMMER
BY FRANCES L. MACE
Of the old days, of the dawn days,
Still the wonder-tale is told
Where the master dwelt of old,
Chief of warriors true and bold.
Long had Winter, strong magician,
Bound in icy chains the land;
Yet he lifted not his hand,
Who my magic can withstand!
“Let him find my secret wigwam,
Face to face and without fear
If he bear the burden drear,
Shall be found to rule the year.”
Dire the trouble of the chieftains:
Who that midnight path could trace?
In my dreams a shining face
Smiled and called me. I will follow,
Even to Winter's hiding-place."
In his frozen lodge sat Winter,
Fierce and famine-eyed and old, Giant of forgotten ages,
Scarred with battles manifold; On his cruel deeds he pondered,
In the darkness and the cold.
Suddenly the great white bearskin
Was uplifted from his door, And one entered, rushing by him
Entered too the storm's wild roar, And the heart of Winter trembled
With a dread unknown before.
Strong and beautiful the stranger
Stood within the darkened tent; The faint firelight to his figure
Shadowy grace and stature lent, And his glances free and fearless
On the giant's face were bent.
Strangely stirred the heart of Winter,
Heart of ice within his breast, But he murmured, guileful ever,
“Sit within the lodge and rest. Long they journey, - in the morning
Shall thy purpose be confessed.”
Then the terrible frost-spirits,
Hastening to their monarch's aid,
Of the gleaming white aurora
Phantom fire of welcome made, And the pipe of cloud and ashes
In the stranger's hand was laid.
And his heavy eyes were lifted
With a fixed, unconscious gaze, While the white lips of old Winter
Muttered of the ancient days With wind-voices and storm-voices
Chanted wild and awful lays.
Listening, dreaming, with the magic
Of the place around him cast, Soon in chains of icy numbness
All his senses were made fast, And the hope of the Algonquins
Bound and helpless lay at last.
Days and months he slept, yet often
In his slumber stirred with pain; Lo! the shining face still gleaming
Far o'er midnight's frozen plain! Then with fierce and breathless struggle
Burst he from the demon chain.
Up he rose, to height majestic,
Taller, fairer, than before. As he rent in sudden fury
The white bearskin from the door, A long shaft of yellow sunshine
Flashed upon the icy floor!
“I have tried thy power, O giant,
To thy dark words listened well; Now the vision of the daybreak
Calls me with a mightier spell. Soon it will be thine to listen,
Mine the wizard tale to tell.”
Oh, fast and far sped Glooskap,
With shoes of magic shod! Past icy crag and mountain
By wonder-paths he trod, Until his feet sank lightly Upon a violet sod,
And fairyland before him
Its gates wide open threw, While myriad silver bugles
From waving treetops blew; For all the elfin singers
At once the master knew:
And in their midst a being
All beauty, smiles, and light, The fair dream-face that led him
Along the waste of night. Like morning robed in roses
She beamed upon his sight.
But for no soft entreaty
The eager master stayed. “The dark world waits thy coming,”
He uttered. “Radiant maid, Take now thy earthly kingdom:
Too long thou hast delayed!"
He caught her to his bosom,
And fast again he sped, But craftily behind him
He tossed a magic thread, And all the fairy kingdom
In captive train was led.
The birds flew close above them,
And filled the air with song; The golden armored sunbeams,
Their escort, marched along, And leaf, and bud, and blossom,
And rivulet, swelled the throng.
Upon a cliff gigantic
By ocean's stormy shore,
And urged the tempest's roar.
And ocean raged no more.
And over old Katahdin,
Where thunders have their home One footprint of sweet Summer
Let loose the spirits dumb. The lightnings gleamed, the thunders
Spake deep, “The hour is come!”
Into the frozen wigwam
There fell a flood of light:
With visage bold and bright,
All dazzling to the sight.