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VIETNAM WAR POETRY
CHIEF SEATTLE SPEAKS
1973

by:Enrique del Rosario
© Copyright
1973

CHIEF SEATTLE SPEAKS
by Enrique B. del Rosario
© Copyright 1973, 1998

On this Earth nothing is changeless for long.
Not the Sky that for centuries untold
Has wept tears of compassion for my people,
And which we see as changeless and eternal.
The eyes that see the Sky forever blue,
Bluer even than the eyes of those who
Do not see the Sky as we who love it,
Grow dim and fewer. All things are changing.

My words, like the fire of stars, shall not change.
My words are straight, like sunlight to your hearts.

The chief of the White People send greetings
From afar. He speaks of friendship with us.
His people are many. We now are few.
The White People are like the grass growing
On prairies. We are but a scattering
Of trees on the vastness of storm-swept plains.
Now that his many walk upon our land,
And we, who were born of this Land, are few,
He now tells us that the Land is not ours.

The hearts of youth are touched with fires of war.
In their anger and pride they do not hear
The counsels of old men and old women.
Our warriors think they have little to lose,
But those who keep the fires at home and those
Whose sons have joined the bones of buffalo,
Know that life is too great a thing to lose.
With neither rancor nor regret shall I
Witness the passing greatness of the Tribes.
We, his brothers, have become his children.

But different is the race of these men
From us who sprung from a different God.
As a father will lead an infant son,
The God of the White Men lead his children.
Our God, who gave us strength to bend the bow,
Has forsaken us, and we are alone.
The words of their God are written in stone
By an iron finger. We do not know
The meaning of those words. We know instead
Of the dreams and visions of our old men,
Given in the solemn hours of evening,
And written in the hearts of our people.

The Land upon which we walk, the mountains,
The valleys, the Waters around us,
Where the ashes of our Ancestors lie,
Are sacred, and we should never leave them.
The White Men wander far from ancestral
Ground, leaving their Spirits to talk to Stars.
Wherever we go we shall hear his steps,
And we will prepare to meet our end as
A wounded doe that hears the approaching
Sure footsteps of her relentless hunter.

But nothing is forever. All things change.
I will not mourn, 'though tribe follow tribe,
And nation follow nation, like the waves
Of the Sea. It was the order of things
Before, and now, and will be tomorrow.

For when the last of my people are gone,
And when the memory of my tribe shall
Have become a myth among the White Men,
These shores will swarm with invisible
Ghosts of my tribe, and their children's children,
Who think themselves to be alone in the fields,
On the highways, in shops and stores, among
The trees that now grow on Duwamish land,
Shall not be alone. In the darkened streets
Of their yet unbuilt cities, those who loved
This Land shall return. For there is no place
As dedicated to solitude as
This place where we stand, but now relinquish.

My words are straight, like sunlight to your hearts.
My words, like the fire of stars, shall not change.

Their time of decay may be distant, but
It will surely come. For even White Men,
Whose God walked and talked with him as friend with
Friend, cannot deny that common Destiny.

We may be brothers after all. We shall see.

The above poem probably does not belong in this collection of war poetry but I'm going to include it. It is a poem that I wrote for a poetry class assignment at Seattle Central Community College in 1973. The assignment was to write a poem in iambic pentameter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
   
 
MARINE MEDIUM HELICOPTER SQUADRON 365 in Vietnam, 1964-1965

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