Home > Uncategorized > Adelaide George Bennett: The Peace-Pipe Quarry

Adelaide George Bennett: The Peace-Pipe Quarry


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war


Adelaide George Bennett
The Peace-Pipe Quarry

Outward swell the rolling prairies like the waves of ocean deep;
Higher rise the crested billows rolling upward as they sweep
From horizon to horizon, and the air grows pure and free,
“On the mountains of the prairie,” on the wind-swept emerald sea.

As in olden time the zealots who would build unto their God,
Sacred temples for his worship, chose a “high place,” and the sod
Of the consecrated mountain was made holy by the rites
Of footsore and weary pilgrims who had sought the sacred heights,
So instinctively the red-men, roaming o’er the boundless main,
Looked for their Manitou above the low level of the plain;
Sought and found him on the summit of the green wave’s swelling crest
Rising upward like a mountain, in the valley of the West.

Not to him they founded temples, gilded fanes and altars fair;
Looking up, they saw already Manitou enthronèd there
In the fastness of the mountain, with his sphynx-like, stony face
Watching like a guardian spirit, o’er the dusky lawless race
Who regarded not each other, and their deadly hatred slaked
In the blood of friends and foemen, when their slumbering ire was waked.

“Gitche Manitou, the Mighty,” the Great Spirit throned above,
Was a God of truth and wisdom, was a God of peace and love;
And as God upon Mount Sinai, stooping from his heavenly throne,
Gave the law unto his people, deeply graven into stone,
“Gitche Manitou, the Mighty,” in compassion for the race
Of unlettered, untaught heathen who knew not his god-like face
Save they saw it in the tempest or the lightning’s livid glare,
Or in some familiar emblem they could see, or feel, or wear,
Taught them peace and love to kindred, through an emblem formed of stone,
Fashioned in the well-known outlines of a thing they called their own.
In the caverns of his store-house, deeply sunken in the ground,
Lay the mystical red pipe-stone, never yet by sachem found.
With his strong right hand almighty, rent he now the ground in twain,
Broke the red stone of the quarry, and, resounding o’er the plain,
Came this message to the warriors: – “Let this be to you a sign:
Make you calumets of pipe-stone, pledge you peace and love divine,
By the smoking of this signet. Let it pass from hand to hand.
Cease you from your wars and wrangling, and be brothers in the land.”

The Great Spirit’s words were heeded, and the calumet, the pipe
Which they often smoked together in their councils, was the type
Of good-will and peace thereafter, and upon the quarry’s site,
Hostile tribes and tongues and races meeting, never meet to fight.

Many legends and traditions cluster round this sacred spot;
Many histories and records deep with hidden meaning fraught,
Have been chiseled on the ledges at the ancient bowlders’ base,
Who, like strangers in the valley, drifted to a resting place.

Here, ere Manitou had given to the tribes the pipe of peace,
Saw he mighty war and bloodshed, saw the tribes of men decrease,
Until fleeing from destruction, come three maidens to the rocks –
The last remnant of all women, hiding from the fearful shocks
Of the deadly fight and carnage which was raging through the air,
Driven to these three large bowlders, as a refuge in despair.
Now in memory of the conflict and the part the bowlders bore,
They are named in weird tradition, “The Three Maidens,” evermore.

Here the thunder-bird portentous, Wakan, terrible in might,
Made his home in awful grandeur on the cliff’s mysterious height.
Here the flapping of his pinions brought the fierce, hot lightning’s glare,
Glazing all the fissured surface like enamel smooth and fair;
Melting all the red rock’s substance till a foot-print of the bird,
Plastic then, took form and hardened for a witness of the word.

Northward, just beyond the quarry, stands the famous “Leaping Rock,”
With its proud head reared to heaven, with an air that seems to mock
And to set at stern defiance, boastful braves who seek for fame,
And from agile feats to gather for themselves an envied name.
Hither came to try his daring, with brave heart to valor nerved,
Hopefully a young Sioux chieftain, never from his purpose swerved,
Came in all his youthful vigor, with his band of stalwart braves,
From the land of the Dakotas; zealously his spirit craves
To lead them all in bravery as he oft before has led,
And the plumes of the war eagle proudly waving on his head,
To wear in boastful triumph on the far-famed treacherous height,
And in his tribe’s traditions, thus his envied name to write.

Fearlessly he stands a moment on the overhanging edge
Of the nearest cliff’s high summit, eyes the small and slippery ledge
Just beyond the yawning chasm which his daring feet must leap;
Stands there bold and free and fearless, taking inward at a sweep
All the fearful odds and chances, the deep chasm he must cross –
Calculates with hope of winning, never with a fear of loss.
High above him arch the heavens; deep below him yawns the gulf;
In his ears the cataract thunders, and before him stands the rough,
Towering rock with air defiant, standing mocking, beckoning there.
With a fixed resolve and purpose, he leaps upward in the air –
Leaps, but not as he had counted, for his feet touch not the goal,
But his body plunges downward, and the young Sioux warrior’s soul,
Rising upward through the ether, seeks the happy hunting ground
Just as anxious friends and kindred gather hastily around,
Dropping tears unto his memory and with slow and measured tread,
Bear away the bold young chieftain, to the mansions of the dead.
Fear the falls of Winnewissa sweetly wooing to repose
With its murmurous plash of waters perfume-laden of the rose,
‘Neath the soil which once his kindred claimed and lived in until we
Rising eastward like a storm-cloud, swept the land from sea to sea.

Sleepeth well the brave young warrior in this legend-hallowed ground,
The long sleep that knows no waking till the common trump shall sound.
Still the Indian camp-fires glimmer round the sacred quarry’s edge,
And the calumet, the peace-pipe, is to them a friendly pledge:
And the doubting pale-face dwelling near the blood-red mystic stone,
Feels around him peace and safety like Elijah’s mantle thrown.

Long may Manitou, the mighty, the Great Spirit throned above,
Smile upon his helpless children, fill their lives with peace and love;
And at last, in the great council, at the bidding of his voice,
May they meet to smoke the peace-pipe with the people of his choice.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: