Lines by a klootchman

From the Steilacoom (Washington Territory) Puget Sound Herald, Friday, October 14, 1859, front page I reckon.

Tokatee Klootchman state natural area

This one’s what was in early 1960s pop music called an “answer song” 🙂 (If you don’t click on that link, you’re missing out.)  The poem it was answering, “Lines to a Klootchman“, was written in a man’s voice, and with a whole lot less Chinook Jargon than this representation of a Native woman’s plea.  (You’ll have to read that one to make sense of the tortured syntax of parts of this one.)  I’ll be publishing–at least–a third poem on this theme; beware.

The title says it all, but just to cover my behind: doggerel alert! and racism alert!

It starts with “And”.  Garrison Keillor would be proud.

What is “moke kope house”?  Do you understand the bolded Chinook Jargon words?  Love the Lushootseed (Puget Sound Salish) accent in “sabud”, i.e.”salmon”!

Lines by a Klootchman


To Sitkum Siwash, Esq.


And dost thou love me? Thou rotund and fair,
          Hyass Tamanass Boston though thou be;
And canst thou turn that jovial cherry face,
That beaming eye, with looks of love on me–
On me, of “ancient and most fish-like smell,”
With head all flat, and toes turned in as well?

Time was, ere Boston man in big canoe,
Came sailing, paddling, steaming up the Sound;
Ere “up and downs” were mammook’d to and fro,
Or “stick” were sawn to lumber all around;
Ere muck-a-muck or moke kope house were reared,
Or skookum chuck or lummy house appear’d.

Then Siwash maid, in simple blanket clad,
Her free limbs unconfined and fish-perfumed,
Plying her paddles swift along the shore,
First dug the clams her daily meal consum’d,
And stuck the sabud upright around the fire,
To roast for supper for her wrinkled sire.

And berries, too, were good when season came,
And ofttimes through the woods I roamed to find
The luscious food, and lure into my train
The Siwash youth–whose roving heart to bind,
I donn’d my blanket with seductive grace,
And gleeced my locks and reddled o’er my face.

But that is past: I see thy portly form;
I feel the witchcraft of thy merry eye;
I hear thy cordial jocund laughter ring,
And marsh all Siwash men without a sigh;
I turn my back on blankets, clams and all,
And follow thee through life, thy willing thrall.

For thou dost love me: what though Boston dames,
In paler beauty, born of Eastern clime,
Upborne by whalebone, and pinch’d in with stays,
Like puff’d balloons around thee skim sublime,
Still dost thou clasp thy dusky Siwash bride,
And tikke yaka more than all beside!

And therefore nika tikke mika, too!
          Kopet passissee klisquis sabud dly,
Put on tekope, keeqwully coat and shoes,
And dress in splendid sil to please thine eye;
I love thee so that s’pose ‘twould do thee good,
I’d even turn my toes out, if I could.

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