In the bygone time, of an age sublime, in the long of long ago,
by means arcane, which I can’t explain, I once lived by knife and bow.
Though I can’t forswear in truth my tale; it is woven out of dreams,
(a fabric made of memories that only night-time brings).
Alas! These tales gush from my soul when midnight casts her spell.
They fill my mind with visions of both paradise and hell.
Vivid dreams are they, words from a book, once penned by ancient lore;
they cast a spell with the tales they tell of a life I lived before.
Can a man interred have his ashes stirred so his spirit will come again,
in another life to this place of strife—and in someone else's skin?
For if that be so, than indeed I know that somewhere near Bismarck,
near Montana’s line, I lived one time, in the Land of the Meadowlark.
My people are “The Band of Friends”—Lakhotas—near the lakes.
When white men came and named us Sioux; did that they know they called us snakes?*
Fort Peck soldiers came one day, with a smithy shop on wheels.
With their iron tools they made repairs and bartered a few deals.
After our trade we romped and played, deep into the dark of night.
A man named Doug produced a jug and we drank until daylight.
One man stood out among the rest, amid the din and clamor;
an English smithy called Hawk-eye, whom we named “Man with the Hammer.”
Round after round he stood his ground, besting first one man—then two,
in games of skill he won them all—a warrior through and through.
Our friendship grew into brotherhood and before the moon was spent,
with mingled blood, we sealed our bond to witness the event.
What could have been I’ll never know, because by quirt of fate,
a drunken warrior killed my friend, from jealousy and hate.
Shamed by his defeat in the games and seized by a drunken rage,
while others slept, he took revenge and stabbed this noble sage.
Tommy Cuts-The-Rope fled, fearing punishment, and escaped in the dead of night.
I tracked his way the following day, with an oath I would set things right.
It was at Wolf Point several miles away that I finally took him down.
They speak today of the duel we fought; it’s a legend in that town.
Now I don’t know the sacred laws that govern the reborn.
I have no clues how Spirits choose which life is next to come.
Can souls pass the abyss in pairs? Do they go on alone?
May friends journey together to each new fleshy home?
But today I am an Englishman and I have a noble friend.
He has a loyal servant, Tommy Coward is his name.
My friend comes from a border town somewhere in North Dakota
and I swear upon my mother’s grave, his sir name is Lakhota.