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| Category: || Romance Poetry |
Posted:|| January 12, 2017 Views: 169|
Myth of the Mountain
"Legend of Timpanogos"
Grim-faced, the medicine man of the tribe
declared to all, "We starve to death, I fear.
Great drought has parched the land and dried the streams.
The mountain god is angry. It is clear
we must appease with worthy sacrifice.
Bring all young maidens of the village here."
Each maiden retrieved from the red clay pot,
a pebble, and then made the color known.
When Utahna's turn came, she drew her fate.
The tribe let out a loud and mournful moan.
The chief's beautiful, precious daughter held
in her trembling fingers, the one black stone.
"No! Not her!" voices called. "Choose another.
She's loved more than Spring on its first warm day."
"Enough!" called the worn-faced medicine man.
"The choice is made. We have no more to say.
Timpanogos has chosen most wisely.
He calls Utahna to be on her way."
"I go," she said, "for I love my people."
And stepped forward with purpose in her stride.
She kissed her grieving father's cheek, "Farewell,"
then turned toward the rocky mountainside.
The chief watched his daughter leave forever
with a mixture of sorrow and great pride.
Four strong, stalwart warriors escorted her.
They left her at the bottom of the path
with admiration for her bravery.
Utahna's sacrifice on their behalf
would please Timpanogos and let them live.
Now alone, she must face the mountain's wrath.
She journeyed through treacherous woods and glens,
over barren stream beds of mud and rock.
Onward and forward and upward she went,
bent on her sacred sacrificial walk.
A young brave from another tribe spied her.
Out hunting goat was the mighty Red Hawk.
Intrigued, he started to follow and saw
her climb onto a precarious ledge.
"Oh, great god of the Mount Timpanogos
I pray thee, hear my plea and heartfelt pledge.
Save my people from drought and from famine."
Utahna took a step nearer the edge.
"Stop!" a voice thundered above her. "Dear maid,
you must not leap to your death there below."
Utahna halted to gaze at Red Hawk.
Thinking he was the great god who'd bestow
all the blessings to end the cruel famine,
she smiled. Her people would flourish and grow.
He was handsome and ever so manly,
calling, "Come, I want you here by my side.
Let us go make our home on this mountain."
Utahna's heart was now bursting with pride.
Her sacrifice, he must have found worthy.
She was to live and become the god's bride.
Red Hawk strode forth as with purpose, but he
truly had no idea where they should go.
They could not return to his tribe or hers.
That he was mere mortal she could not know.
He had to take her some place apart where
with time their love could be fostered and grow
For this lovely maiden captured his heart
the instant he saw her willing to leap.
Preserving her life and gaining her trust
was a vow he would certainly keep.
So he led her through unknown wilderness
upon a trail that was rocky and steep
Until they came to what looked like the end.
He paused, but his hesitation was brief
for a few steps led them into a cave
of splendor so far beyond their belief
that they both were entranced by its crystal
formations and geographic relief.
"Is it enchanted?" she asked. And he smiled.
"Yes. There is powerful medicine here."
For several moons Red Hawk and Utahna
felt their love growing more precious and dear.
She fell in love with his emerald eyes,
and he took pleasure in holding her near.
Then one day Red Hawk was hunting an elk,
watching intently so he was aware
of every twitch of its muscles, the flick
of its ears, even its scent on the air.
Suddenly his skin prickled, "there's danger,"
as behind him rose a giant brown bear.
The point of his knife was lightning quick.
He plunged it into the giant bear's hide.
The struggle was short, Red Hawk was injured,
but miraculously, he was alive.
Utahna, he wondered, was she still safe?
Had the bear seen the cave and his bride?
Red Hawk appeared at the mouth of the cave,
wounded, bleeding, barely able to walk.
His dearest Utahna ran to his side,
her deep brown eyes full of worry and shock.
She dressed his cruel wounds and then made him rest,
and told him "shush" when he wanted to talk.
There was never more tender devotion.
He grew strong due to her diligent care.
Again he hunted and brought back fresh game.
"Utahna," he called, but she was not there.
He searched the cave and the surrounding grounds.
Each moment that passed increased his despair.
Oh, where would she go? Up the trail he ran.
He was mere mortal and now that she knew,
he feared that duty to her tribe required
completing the task they sent her to do.
Looking up, he saw her climbing a cliff.
"Utahna, wait! Don't leave me. I love you!"
She did not look back or answer his call,
but kept ascending the craggy rock face.
He glimpsed the ledge she had chosen above
and gauged the distance he was from the place.
There was time, he was certain, to save her.
In desperation, he quickened his pace.
He arrived at the ledge at the moment
she leaped gracefully toward the blue sky.
An instant later she dropped from his view.
Red Hawk rent the air with his anguished cry.
Stunned. Grieving. He crawled down to the gully,
knelt by her, then sobbed, "Oh, Utahna! Why?"
He picked up her body and returned to
their cave. Where else could he possibly go?
It was the most fitting burial place
for the greatest love he ever would know.
And he would stay by her side forever.
No deeper loyalty could he bestow.
Tears of sorrow flowed from emerald eyes
until his broken heart throbbed its last beat.
Love and devotion exacted its price.
There in the cave with its silence so deep,
Red Hawk embraced his lovely Utahna,
resting together in life's final sleep.
When Timpanogos came to his mountain,
he questioned, "My children, what have you done?
I meant for you to spend life together,
to grow a new tribe in the years that would come."
Then the god did a most marvelous thing.
He entwined their broken hearts into one--
A giant heart that would last forever
in the crystal cave they'd never forsake.
And the brave's tears, he sent to the surface
to reflect their love as Emerald Lake.
Then he reformed the shape of the mountain
with a mighty crash and trembling quake.
Up to the sky its peaks rose to display
the silhouette of a maiden at rest.
Now finished with his newest creation,
Timpanogos stood on the highest crest,
raised his hands to the azure blue, and with
this invocation, the mountain was blessed:
"To those who gaze at Mount Timpanogos,
or the great heart in the crystalline cave,
forget not within nature's vast beauty
there lies a story most tragic and grave
of the sacrifice of a young maiden
and the everlasting love of her brave."
Write a Poem of Length contest entry
There are numerous legends of Mt. Timpanogos. Some tell the romantic story of the Indian maiden and the Indian brave, and her sacrifice for her people. Others tell of the formation of the giant heart in the cave. Some include the story of the formation of Emerald Lake. Still another says the mountain is shaped like a sleeping Indian princess waiting for her Indian prince to come and awaken her. Many of the legends tell of Timpanogos as a jealous god, and in one he is even the bear that attacks the Indian brave for pretending to be a god. I have merged several of the legends and chosen to spin my tale with the mountain god wanting a more positive outcome from his mortal followers and memorializing their tragic love for each other to explain why the mountain takes the shape it does.
Mount Timpanogos is the second highest mountain in the Utah Wasatch mountain range. It dominates the Utah Valley. Visiting the cave system includes viewing the giant heart formed by stalagmites and stalactites. Climbing the mountain is also popular. Near the top of the mountain, Emerald Lake is formed by melting runoff from a glacier that stays year round.
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