Study Guide

Song of Hiawatha Part XV: Hiawatha's Lamentation

By Henry W. Longfellow

Part XV: Hiawatha's Lamentation

  • Remember how we said earlier that lots of evil spirits were jealous of Hiawatha's friendships? Well, now we're going to talk about all the evil spirits that want to kill Hiawatha's closest friend, Chibiabos.
  • Hiawatha seems aware that there are forces conspiring against his friend, because he asks Chibiabos not to go anywhere without him. Chibiabos replies by basically saying, "I got this," and then he takes off whenever he wants.
  • One day, Chibiabos chases a deer onto Lake Superior and ends up falling through the ice. That's where the evil spirits are waiting for him. They drag him to the bottom and kill him.
  • Hiawatha is aware of Chibiabos' death as soon as it happens, and he lets out a huge cry that shakes the whole forest. He paints his face black and spends the next seven weeks in mourning.
  • All the greatest people in the land visit Hiawatha and try to cheer him up. They give him special potions to drive the sadness from his body and sing special chants for him.
  • Over time, the rituals work and Hiawatha's heart heals.
  • Next, the medicine men summon Chibiabos' spirit from beneath the water. He comes, but the medicine men won't let him inside the wigwam. Instead they hand him a burning coal through a hole in the wall. They ask him to use the coal to build a fire for anyone who dies in the future.
  • After this, Hiawatha goes out to teach medicine to the world so that people won't die from treatable illnesses.