The author's boyhood
home was a farm not far from Blackhawk Lake, a glacial lake in western
Iowa named after the Sauk (or Sac) Indian Black Hawk. This is an
imaginary account of a visit by him to the lake on a moonlit night.
The lake used to be called Walled Lake because of
a wall-like accumulation of rocks on its shore. Now on that shore is
the town of Lake View, where two stone piers project out into the water.
A Sauk Comes to Visit
In hours of dark before the dawn,
the moon in sky,
My worn and aging eye was drawn
By something I saw, to identify...
I saw a form afar,
A shape unclear to see,
But there, below a star,
I saw it draw near to me...
A man in a boat in moonlight,
In the path that lay across the lake;
Even though it wasn't noonlight,
I saw his paddle, the water break...
It wasn't your usual boat,
But curved of bow and stern;
As closer it came afloat,
I saw his vessel turn...
As nearer now it drew,
I studied its shape, a-searchin'...
My eye unveil'd a canoe,
Of bouyant bark, and birchen.
The person clothed
in buckskin hide,
Had a fringe about his shoulder;
He drew to shore, a rocky side,
And stepped out upon a boulder...
And from the shining moon,
I saw a crest upon his head;
He chanted a quiet tune,
To not awaken, the town abed...
He walked upon a pier
That jutted out from shore;
He listened with his ear,
To sounds, aside and o'er...
It came to me just who he was,
And why he'd come this place;
I knew for sure, because
I'd seen before his face...
It was a leader of Sauk,
A figure, tragic in history,
The one they called Black Hawk...
His presence here, no mystery.
He wanted to see and feel the lake
That bore his English name,
A special trip this native did make
To a place that him did claim...
And then, without a word,
He filled his pipe of stone...
It was shaped like a hawkish bird,
With folded wings, unflown
He sparked a bit of fire,
Scintillas in some tinder grass,
And ignited the stony flier:
A wisp did upward pass...
He puffed a little with his mouth,
Then held the pipe, up high and forth;
He held it east and to the south,
Then to the west and to the north...
He said something, I could hear it,
In a tongue I knew was Sauk;
He asked of God, Great Spirit
To bless the lake Blackhawk...
To bless with fish and waterfowl,
With muskrat, mink and turtle too,
To o'erfly the lake with hawk and owl,
And let the sky look down so blue...
Bless the homes and palefaces,
And those of darker hue...
All those in campfire places,
Bless the lodges of Lake View...
He arose and walked to his canoe
And maneuvered the boat about;
He embarked with his moccasin shoe,
And upon the surface, headed out...
His paddle he quietly dipped
And his bark, it left a little wake:
From the rocky shore he slipped
And paddled out upon the lake...
Into the path of moonlight,
That still lay across the lake,
He paddled in the lunar light,
And the stars, they watched awake...
And all too soon
In the lunar night,
Below the moon,
He vanished from sight.
While the poem on
the left is a work of imagination, the reality his presence as a person in
history is remembered with a statue at Lake View, Iowa. It stands near
the lake that bears his name.