Monday, October 13, 2014

Harvest Time

Pillowed and hushed on the silent plain,
Wrapped in her mantle of golden grain,

Wearied of pleasuring weeks away,
Summer is lying asleep today —

Where winds come sweet from the wild-rose briers
And the smoke of the far-off prairie fires;

Yellow her hair as the goldenrod,
And brown her cheeks as the prairie sod;

Purple her eyes as the mists that dream
At the edge of some laggard sun-drowned stream;

But over their depths the lashes sweep,
For Summer is lying today asleep.

The north wind kisses her rosy mouth,
His rival frowns in the far-off south,

And comes caressing her sunburnt cheek,
And Summer awakes for one short week,—

Awakes and gathers her wealth of grain,
Then sleeps and dreams for a year again.

— Emily Pauline Johnson

A poet and performer of mixed blood born on the Six Nations Reserve in 1861 Emily Pauline Johnson would eventually adopt the name of her great-grandfather Tekahionwake. In touring England, Canada and America in the 1890s she would open her performance dressed in traditional Native apparel returning in an evening gown for her second and final act.

Four volumes of Johnson's poetry were published during her lifetime including, The White Wampum, which was simultaneously published in London, Toronto, and Boston in 1895. In failing health she managed to proofread an edition of her collected poems, Flint and Feather months before succumbing to breast cancer in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1913.

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