Native American Poetry

Sorrow and love are ageless and limitless and they can be best expressed in rhymes. The Native Americans understood this ages before and eventually they gave form to Native American poetry. Feelings are best expressed through words and poetry is the best medium to let other people feel the sentiments and emotions of a particular age. All poems are not however similar. Some are jovial, some grave and some speak of eternal love.

Several Native American poets have come up with unique ideas and styles of their own to illustrate their way of accepting and looking at life itself. The customs and traditions of their age are well reflected through verse. In fact, notable American Indian poets often trained themselves in the art of expressing in the rightful way.

Native Americans were of tribal origin. They faced climactic hazards, invasions and went through several racial and historical transformations. Therefore, their poetry reflected an urge to cling on to their soil, a craving to hold on to their originality and maintain everything natural and lawfully spontaneous.

Frequent wars prevented the Native Americans from settling in a particular destination. Thus, they always missed their homeland. They expressed their nostalgia in their poetry and appreciated everything that was their own. They also developed the art of admiring the various aspects of life. They concentrated on their personal life, family, nature and relationships.

In Native America, culture, tales, stories and proverbs were passed down from one generation to another orally. In fact, what the natives inherited they treasured for their lives. The poems of this native land reveal how grannies and grandpas turned sleepless nights of little darlings into fairy tales and fantasies. They were lulled to sleep with intoxicating verses. Such verses still exist proudly pointing to a culture so native, so alluring and so intense. 

From the poem “Tears Of A Nation”

I met a man of many colors
And a tear was upon his cheek.
"Old man" I ask, "why do you cry
With such an agonizing weep”?

A unique conversation between Father Nation and his child. The father complaints of the wounds inflicted by war and mutual discriminations. The old man (Native America) has one red hand and the other white, one leg barely clothed of yellow color and the other leg completely black as night. This shows one body with such different physical variations of tint. The body is Native America and the colors represent the chaotic existence of various native communities.

Nature seemed an integral part of Native American culture and poetry. The natives considered the sun, moon and the stars their guardians and part of their benevolent Father. Their respect for all earthly matters are well reflected in Native American verses.

Just as our Ancestors kept the faith with all things
Great and Small ...
So must we be the guardians of the Sun, the Moon
and the Stars ...
It is because of them, and our respect for their powers
that we must raise our voices to be heard ...

Each line of the poems from native America seems so contemporary. In spite of several hostilities and devastation, the Native Americans were a group of sensitive people who has special things to say to special someone in a very special way. This is what is being reflected in the poem “Special People”.

The special people in this world are the most precious
and the most appreciated people of all. No matter what
happens, they always understand. They go a million miles
out of their way. They hold your hand.
They bring you smiles, when a smile is exactly
what you need. They listen, and they hear what
is said in the spaces between the words. They care,
and they let you know you're in their prayers.

Every age is elite in its own way. It’s nature, it’s people, culture, tradition, love and hatred seem encompassing when expressed in alphabets and meters. Native American poetry is a collection of native pearls sparkling to enlighten contemporary generations.

Joseph Paige 2006

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