June 18, 2012

Sing your death song

I've been preoccupied with a poem, an excerpt of which was in a movie on a recent flight. It is reportedly from Tecumseh, a native american warrior/leader, but that is a matter of some dispute. Anyway, here it is, slightly abridged (though various copies abound, all a little different):

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and bow to none.
When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
Abuse no one and nothing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

-- Chief Tecumseh

After some googling around, Tecumseh's last words are reported to be: "One of my legs is shot off! But leave me one or two guns loaded; I am going to have a last shot. Be quick and go!" Account given by Andrew J. Blackbird (Mack-e-te-be-nessy) of the Ottawa, of the last words declared by Tecumseh to his fellow warriors, as he lay on the ground after being severely wounded by a musket ball in the leg, and prior to being swarmed over by many U.S. troops.

Regardless of whether or not he wrote the poem, it would appear when it came his time to die that he sang his noble death song and died like a hero going home.

Posted by rick at 03:14 AM