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Sample Poems by Faye George
Moonanam . . . Wamsutta . . . now Alexander,
As it was my father's-Massasoit's-wish
That we should keep
The peace between us and the English,
And as it was
Our custom to mark a death or other
By shedding one's old name to take another,
At his passing,
I, Wamsutta, with younger brother Metacom,
Would ask that Plymouth
Bestow upon us English names, honoring
Our father's wish.
Hence, I would now be known as "Alexander";
My brother, "Philip":
Named for ancient kings, which flattered us as
It was meant to do.
But keep the peace? I fear it was by then
Too late for that.
I do not fault my father, so hard-pressed,
The bargain made
To forge against the Narragansett threat
An English shield,
With Wampanoag numbers so diminished
By the plague
That swept our land like fire in autumn grass,
Our flesh its kindling.
So many dead, the villages had no one left
To bury them.
Their whited bones lay scattered over ground;
Those who could, fled.
Crumbling wetus, grinning skulls, were left
To greet the English,
Who found in our distress their lucky chance;
Much as the bird
That lays its eggs in another bird's nest,
Whose own offspring will be displaced by
Caught between two wolves, my father thus
With one against the other, believing
English guns would
Help him keep encroaching Narragansetts
At a distance.
He took a gambler's risk in trusting Whites,
With little cause kill Indians; how some,
Like Captain Hunt-
Who captured Epenow and Squanto-
Would carry us
Away upon their ships to sell as slaves
Beyond the sea.
But having cast his lot with Plymouth,
My father's ears
Were closed to others' words, others' warnings.
Came and went a welcome friend among
Which not a little troubled Corbitant,
A man of influence within the Federation,
And not a little
Jealous, perhaps ambitious to become
Were Ousamequin-Massasoit-less loved
Among the people,
It might have been the source of storms
For his part, Corbitant continued chary
Of these English.
I see that Corbitant possessed a sense
Of hidden things.
And had his hand been free to rally all
The griefs that chafed and galled and vexed us,
He would have rid us of the English before
Before another Winslow or his son
Would think himself
The master of these lands, and summon me-
To answer at his bidding, where I go,
Whence I come.
I answer thus this Englishman, trespasser
Of Wampanoag land,
Reminding him, Josiah Winslow, how it was:
Would not have lived to sire and raise him up
Had it not been
The hand of Massasoit that lifted their distress
In time of peril,
Giving succor to that wretched band
Landing pilgrimed on our shores in the worst
Of winter frost.
None would have survived the famine time
Without our corn,
Stolen Indian corn! -From corn to land,
The theft goes on.
How is it that the suffered guest should come
To rule the house?
Summon me? -Wamsutta, Alexander,
Of the Wampanoag Federation!
I give my answer:
Not for this did my father and our people,
With all good will,
Give yours a place to make their homes
And dwell among us;
Not to submit as slaves to English law,
Not to live as
Children of the English governor!
Now you hear this:
We are not your children, neither your slaves.
Nor will you,
Josiah Winslow, tell me how I shall
Dispose my land.
Do not send your soldiers, armed and dressed
Like plated beasts,
To fetch me thither with a pointed gun.
Do not wave your
Paper treaties made of lies before my face.
And do not force my hand!