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"SILHOUETTE"

E. Pauline Johnson

The sky-line melts from the russet into blue,
Unbroken the horizon, saving where
A wreath of smoke curls up the far, thin air,
And points the distant lodges of the Sioux.

Etched where the lands and cloundlands touch and die
A solitary Indian tepee stands
The only habitation of these lands,
That roll their magnitude from sky to sky.

The tent poles lift and loom in thin relief,
The upward floating smoke ascends between,
And near the open doorway, gaunt and lean,
And shadow-like, there stands an Indian Chief.

With eyes that lost their lustre long ago,
With visage fixed and stern as fate's descent
He looks towards the empty west, to see
The never-coming herd of buffalo.

Only the bones that bleach upon the plains,
Only the fleshless skeletons that lie
In ghastly nakedness and silence, cry
Out mutely that naught else to him remains.

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Ms. Johnson (Tekahionwake) was the youngest child of G. H. M. Johnson (Onwanonsyshon) and Emily S. Howells. Mr. Johnson, of the Mohawk tribe, was the Head Chief of the Six Nations Indians; Mrs. Johnson was born in Bristol, England, but chose Canada as her homeland. "Silhouette" is borrowed without permission from Ms. Johnson's book of Indian / Canadian poetry, titled Flint and Feather.

Flint and Feather: The Complete Poems of E. Pauline Johnson (Hodder and Stoughton Limited, London / Toronto. 1969 edition.)



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