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IX the village of crazy horse Meanwhile among the Powder River breaks,1 Where cottonwoods and plums and stunted oaks Made snug his village of a hundred smokes, Young Crazy Horse was waiting for the spring.2 Well found his people were in everything That makes a winter good. But more than food And shelter from the hostile solitude Sustained them yonder when the sun fled far And rustling ghost-lights3 capered round the Star And moons were icy and the blue snow whined; Or when for days the world went blizzard blind And devils of the North came howling down. For something holy moved about the town With Crazy Horse. No chieftainship had run, Long cherished in the blood of sire and son, To clothe him with the might he wielded then. The Ogalalas boasted taller men But few of fairer body. One might look And think of water running in a brook Or maybe of a slender hickory tree; And something in his face might make one see A flinty shaft-head very keen to go, Because a hero’s hand is on the bow, His eye upon the mark. But nothing seen About his goodly making or his mien Explained the man; and other men were bold. Unnumbered were the stories that were told (And still the legend glorified the truth) About his war-fond, pony-taming youth When Hump the Elder was a man to fear; And where one went, the other would be near, For there was love between the man and lad.4 And it was good to tell what fights they had With roving bands of Utes or Snakes or Crows. And now that Hump was gone these many snows, His prowess lingered. So the legend ran. But neither Hump nor any other man Could give the gift that was a riddle still. What lonely vigils on a starry hill, What fasting in the time when boyhood dies Had put the distant seeing in his eyes, The power in his silence? What had taught That getting is a game that profits naught And giving is a high heroic deed? His plenty never neighbored with a need Among his band. A good tough horse to ride, The gear of war, and some great dream inside Were Crazy Horse’s wealth.5 It seemed the dim And larger past had wandered back in him To shield his people in the days of wrong. His thirty years were like a brave old song That men remember and the women croon To make their babies brave. Now when the moon Had wearied of December and was gone, 420 the song of the indian wars And bitterly the blizzard time came on, The Great White Father had a word to say. The frost-bit runners rode a weary way To bring the word, and this is what it said: “All bands, before another moon is dead, Must gather at the agencies or share The fate of hostiles.”6 Grandly unaware Of aught7 but its own majesty and awe, The big word blustered. Yet the people saw The snow-sift snaking in the grasses, heard The Northwind bellow louder than the word To make them shudder with the winter fear. “You see that there are many children here,” Said Crazy Horse. “Our herd is getting lean. We can not go until the grass is green. It is a very foolish thing you say.” And so the surly runners rode away And Crazy Horse’s people stayed at home.8 And often were the days a howling gloam Between two howling darks; nor could one tell When morning broke and when the long night fell; For ’twas a winter such as old men cite To overawe and set the youngsters right With proper veneration for the old. The ponies huddled humpbacked in the cold And, dog-like, gnawed the bark of cottonwood. But where the cuddled rawhide lodges stood Men laughed and yarned and let the blizzard roar, Unwitting how the tale the runners bore Prepared the day of sorrow.9 421 The Village of Crazy Horse March boomed in, And still the people revelled in their sin Nor thought of woe already on the way. Then, when the night was longer than the day By just about an old man’s wink and nod, As sudden as the storied wrath of God, And scarce more human, retribution came.10 The moony wind that night was like a flame To...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781496207388
Print ISBN
9781496206374
MARC Record
OCLC
1039702821
Pages
726
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-13
Language
English
Open Access
N
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