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X the sun dance Now wheresoever thawing breezes blew And green began to prickle in the brown, There went the tale of Crazy Horse’s town To swell a mood already growing there. For something more than Spring was in the air,1 And, mightier than any maiden’s eyes, The Lilith-lure2 of Perilous Emprise Was setting all the young men’s blood astir. How fair the more than woman face of her Whose smile has gulfed how many a daring prow!3 What cities burn for jewels on her brow; Upon her lips what vintages are red! Her lovers are the tallest of the dead Forever. When the streams of Troas rolled So many heroes seaward, she was old; Yet she is young forever to the young. ’Twas now the murmur of the man-flood, flung Upon the Hills, grew ominously loud. The whole white world seemed lifted in a cloud To sweep the prairie with a monstrous rain. Slay one, and there were fifty to be slain! Give fifty to the flame for torturing, Then count the marching multitude of Spring Green blade by blade! Still wilder rumors grew; They told of soldiers massed against the Sioux And waiting till the grass was good, to fall On Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull and Gall4 That all the country might be safe for theft, And nothing of a warrior race be left But whining beggars in a feeding pen.5 Alas, the rights of men—of other men— That centenary season of the Free!6 No doubt the situation wanted tea To make it clear!7 But long before the green Had topped the hills, the agencies grew lean Of youth and courage.8 Did a watch dog bark Midway between the owl and meadowlark?— Then other lads with bow and shield and lance Were making for the Region of Romance Where Sitting Bull’s weird medicine was strong And Crazy Horse’s name was like a song A happy warrior sings before he dies, And Gall’s a wind of many battle cries That flings a thousand ponies on the doomed. So where the Powder and Rosebud boomed, Men met as water of the melting snows. The North Cheyennes and North Arapahoes, Become one people in a common cause With Brulés, Minneconjoux, Hunkpapas, Sans Arcs and Ogalalas, came to throng The valleys; and the villages were long With camp on camp. Nor was there any bluff, In all the country, that was tall enough 429 The Sun Dance To number half the ponies at a look. Here young June came with many tales of Crook, The Gray Fox,9 marching up the Bozeman Road. How long a dust above his horsemen flowed! How long a dust his walking soldiers made! What screaming thunder when the pack-mules brayed And all the six-mile wagon teams replied! The popping of the whips on sweaty hide, How like a battle when the foe is bold! And from the North still other tales were told By those who heard the steamboats wheeze and groan With stuffs of war along the Yellowstone To feed the camps already waiting there. Awaiting what? The might of Yellow Hair Now coming from the Heart’s mouth!10 Rumor guessed How many Snakes were riding from the West To join the Whites against their ancient foes; How many Rees, how many of the Crows Remembered to be jealous of the Sioux.11 Look north, look south—the cloud of trouble grew, Look east, look west—the whole horizon frowned. But it was better to be ringed around With enemies, to battle and to fail, Than be a beggar chief like Spotted Tail,12 However fattened by a hated hand. Now when the full moon flooded all the land Before the laughter of the owls began,13 They turned to One who, mightier than Man, Could help them most—the Spirit in the sun; For whatsoever wonder-work is done 430 the song of the indian wars Upon the needy earth, he does it all. For him the whole world sickens in the fall When streams cease singing and the skies go gray And trees and bushes weep their leaves away In hopeless hushes empty of the bird, And all day long and all night long are heard The high geese wailing after their desire. But, even so, his saving gift of fire Is given unto miserable men Until they see him face to face...


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