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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Emily Pauline Johnson (1861–1913)


I AM Ojistoh, I am she, the wife

Of him whose name breathes bravery and life

And courage to the tribe that calls him chief.

I am Ojistoh, his white star, and he

Is land and lake and sky—and soul, to me.

Ah! but they hated him, those Huron braves,

Him who had flung their warriors into graves,

Him who had crushed them underneath his heel,

Whose arm was iron, and whose heart was steel

To all—save me, Ojistoh, chosen wife

Of my great Mohawk, white star of his life.

Ah! but they hated him, and counciled long

With subtle witchcraft how to work him wrong;

How to avenge their dead, and strike him where

His pride was highest, and his fame most fair.

Their hearts grew weak as women at his name;

They dared no war-path since my Mohawk came

With ashen bow and flinten arrow-head

To pierce their craven bodies; but their dead

Must be avenged, Avenged? They dared not walk

In day and meet his deadly tomahawk;

They dared not face his fearless scalping-knife:

So—Niyoh!—then they thought of me, his wife.

Oh! evil, evil face of them they sent

With evil Huron speech: “Would I consent

To take of wealth? be queen of all their tribe?

Have wampum ermine?” Back I flung the bribe

Into their teeth, and said, “While I have life,

Know this,—Ojistoh is the Mohawk’s wife.”

Wah! how we struggled! But their arms were strong.

They flung me on their pony’s back, with thong

Round ankle, wrist, and shoulder. Then upleapt

The one I hated most; his eye he swept

Over my misery, and sneering said,

“Thus, fair Ojistoh, we avenge our dead.”

And we two rode, rode as a sea wind-chased,

I, bound with buckskin to his hated waist,

He, sneering, laughing, jeering, while he lashed

The horse to foam, as on and on we dashed.

Plunging through creek and river, bush and trail,

On, on we galloped, like a northern gale.

At last, his distant Huron fires aflame

We saw, and nearer, nearer still we came.

I, bound behind him in the captive’s place,

Scarcely could see the outline of his face.

I smiled, and laid my cheek against his back:—

“Loose thou my hands,” I said. “This pace let slack.

Forget we now that thou and I are foes.

I like thee well, and wish to clasp thee close;

I like the courage of thine eye and brow;

I like thee better than my Mohawk now.”

He cut the cords; we ceased our maddened haste.

I wound my arms about his tawny waist;

My hand crept up the buckskin of his belt;

His knife hilt in my burning palm I felt;

One hand caressed his cheek, the other drew

The weapon softly—“I love you, love you,”

I whispered, “love you as my life;”

And—buried in his back his scalping knife.

Ha! how I rode, rode as a sea wind-chased,

Mad with my sudden freedom, mad with haste,

Back to my Mohawk and my home; I lashed

That horse to foam, as on and on I dashed.

Plunging through creek and river, bush and trail.

On, on I galloped like a northern gale.

And then my distant Mohawk’s fires aflame

I saw, as nearer, nearer still I came,

My hands all wet, stained with a life’s red dye,

But pure my soul, pure as those stars on high—

“My Mohawk’s pure white star, Ojistoh, still am I.”