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Mr. Ed

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· A Walk With Dogs

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  An Illinois Tale
by Mr. Ed
Friday, June 17, 2005
Rated "G" by the Author.

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Recent poems by Mr. Ed
•  A Walk With Dogs
•  Earth Day Blues
•  What Have We Become
•  The Victims of Our Cruelty
•  The Shredding Machine
           >> View all 1,516





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- The Fifth Poem in My Native American Series -


 


 


 


 


Long, long ago,


When the great buffalo herds roamed the vast Illinois plains


A hideous creature lived in a deep dark cave above the river


Devilishly stalking its prey in both the darkness and the rain


 


When it’s thirst for flesh and blood grew strong


It would soar high above the river in the sky


Hungrily scanning the fertile earth below


With its piercing evil monstrous red eyes


 


No earthly creature was safe from its terror


The great buffalo herds trembled at its sight


For this winged Evil One would often devour


Terrified newborn calves in the dead of night


 


This evil Storm Bird was gigantic


It took no mercy on any living thing


And great terror death and destruction


To the Illiniwek people it would bring


 


For one sad day it lost its taste for buffalo


And it began to hunger and thirst only for men


Very soon it began snatching Illiniwek people


It began raiding their villages again and again


 


The people’s lives were now in constant jeopardy


They pleaded with Chief Ouatoga to devise a plan


But their leader was as mystified as the rest of them


“What am I to do, my people?  I, too, am just a man.”


 


Finally in desperation Chief Ouatoga meditated and prayed


Imploring The Great Spirit for help in defeating this Storm Bird


And one very dark and stormy night the chief had a great vision


He revealed to his people what he had learned in these epic words


 


“The Great Spirit answered my prayers last night,


He told me Storm Bird is vulnerable in his chest,


Tonight, my people, with twenty poison arrows,


We shall finally send this evil monster to its rest.”


 


And so it came to pass high atop a steep rocky river bluff


That the Illiniwek people sent Storm Bird to its bloody end


As the great monster’s evil body plunged into Great Father River


The people cheered loudly and Storm Bird was never ever seen again


 


And so the Illiniwek people would never forget their great deliverance


They soon painted an image of Storm Bird high above the ancient river bed


And being a most grateful nation of people it soon became their most sacred tradition


That whenever they passed this painting they thanked the Great Spirit that it was dead


 


 


©2005, Ed Kostro


 


 


The Story of Storm Bird, or as many call it, ‘Piasa’ Bird, is a very ancient one.


 


When Europeans first arrived in the Mississippi River Valley in the 1600s, they found a well established confederation of twelve native groups who called themselves the Illiniwek (Men).  The French explorers called them the ‘Illinois,’ and their ancient homeland eventually became the state of Illinois.


 


‘Piasa’ is an Illiniwek word that has been translated to mean ‘bird that devours man,’ or ‘bird of an evil spirit.’


 


 It was first historically recorded in 1673 when Father Marquette, in documenting his famous journey down the Mississippi River with Explorer Louis Joliet, described what he saw high on the limestone river bluffs near the present day city of Alton, Illinois:


 


"While skirting some rocks which by their height and length inspired awe, we saw upon one of them a painted monster which at first made us afraid, and upon which the boldest savages dared not long rest their eyes.


 


It is as large as a calf, has horns on it like those of a deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard like a tiger's, a face somewhat like a man's, a body covered with scales, and a tail so long that it winds all around the body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a fish's tail.”


 


- Father Jacques Marquette -


 


The original Piasa Bird painting that Marquette described was an ancient petroglyph (a prehistoric carving gouged deep into the limestone cliff surface) that is now sadly lost to modern day man.


 


The 1854 engraving above depicts the Illiniweks pointing at the gigantic petroglyph on the rocks above the river. (From Henry Lewis, The Illustrated Mississippi Valley, Dusseldorf, 1854.)


 


I first learned of this legend when I was about six years old.  A kindhearted nun in my Catholic elementary school read Father Marquette’s very intriguing journal entry to me,  and I’ve been fascinated by Native American legends and lore ever since.


 


I also soon began pestering my father to take me to the river cliffs where the giant bird monster had once lived, and dear old Dad grudgingly complied.


 


Could this Piasa Bird have been a dragon of ancient mythology?  Or perhaps, it was a flying saurian, one of the last remaining flesh-eating dinosaurs.


 


And today, whenever I travel the Great Mississippi River Road at night, I always peer skyward, soon envisioning this ancient Storm Bird silently soaring somewhere overhead.


 


 


 


 


 

 


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Reviewed by Jackie (Micke) Jinks 6/18/2005
Thank you for this, Ed. I was born in St. Louis, but had never heard this legend. This Native American Series is so very fascinating, and I always look forward to the next! Great history lessons, too!

Micke
Reviewed by Katy Walsvik 6/18/2005
This, Little Eddie, feeds my life-long greed for lore and suspence... not to mention my imagination... I love believing these things. I'm entirely open to these stories. Your writing style would have been a blessing when history was assigned in school. Sigh... alas, they thought stale equaled education. Phooey!

Sorry I'm behind in reading your series... I will get to every one in my time. (smile) For now, I'm off to see a bunch of shiny, well-preserved old cars and drink beer at the VFW. Wheeeeeee... (Kathy's son has an old vintage Dodge of some sort). Wish you could join us. katy xox
Reviewed by Carole Mathys 6/18/2005
Your brilliant pen, breaths life into this facinating series, excellent write Ed!

Peace, Carole
Reviewed by Ed Matlack 6/18/2005
And yet another VERY cool story in poem form from your pen, Ed...Don't think I could live without seeing anything about a poem from you in my inbox...thanks, Ed
Reviewed by E T Waldron 6/17/2005
Once again Ed you have given us a history lesson and a most beauitifull mysterious poetic tale, based on fact. I never knew
about the name Illinois, that is great to know, having lived
there for 15 years;-) Bless you for sharing these stories with us
Ed. I hope all is well with your family and pets, I still keep
them in prayer!

Love,
Eileen
Reviewed by Gwen Dickerson 6/17/2005
Oh Ed! How great you are in blending history and poetry. I bet you're a natural story teller, and I think I could sit, like a little child, and listen to you for hours! Thank you, I enjoyed.
Reviewed by A PAX 6/17/2005
this is so interesting...........
i love native american lore
ty ed
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 6/17/2005
Ed,

One not only is entertained by your perfect meter and rhyme, they are drawn back in time to the era you cover--an excellent write once again! I love these Native American stories--more, more, more!!

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla. :)
Reviewed by Susan Barton (Reader) 6/17/2005
Thank you
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 6/17/2005
Thanks for another very fine offering Ed!!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Kate Burnside 6/17/2005
Love the music you choose to accompany this haunting and lingering tale, Ed. Thanks so much for taking pains to remind us of what others will never forget - and who have gone to such lengths to comemmorate and record these historic significances for us. These things are like a Pandora's box - fascinating once our minds are opened and illumined by them. Bless you - and AT has the very grey pix of a London Brief Encounter or two!! :)) TY Kate xx
Reviewed by L. Figgins 6/17/2005
I second E.W.'s belief that this series would make a great book. Excellent writing, Ed!
Reviewed by Retta (Reindeer) Mckenzie 6/17/2005
Oh Ed, this was excellent, a beautiful rendering of this legend! Loved every word, thank you so much for this interesting poem!

Reindeer
Reviewed by Kate Clifford 6/17/2005
From all tales a truth can be found. I suspect it was a dinosaur that began this tale. Thank you for this very informative write.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 6/17/2005
damn, eddie, this is phenominal writing! outstanding; bravo!!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in tx., karen lynn. :D
Reviewed by E. Richardson 6/17/2005
Ed, this is exceptional. I have been following your series and am especially struck by this one. I lived in IL for 20 some years and was in the Alton area several times. I am very familiar with the legends of the Storm Bird. There are still stories circulating that some large bird inhabits that area. A friend I had at the Natural History museum, considered it to be in the same class as other regional myths, such as the black panthers of OH and IN and the sasquatch of the NorthWest.
These works of yours are really good...will make a good book.
Reviewed by Trish - The Trickster 6/17/2005
Seems I have missed a number in this series...so I shall have some catching up and some excellent reading to look forward to. Thanks for the update note. I appreciate it. This is a wonderful piece. Hugs, Trish.
Reviewed by George Carroll 6/17/2005
You being the past to life in a beauty that would make the ancient ones most happy. Another great write in your walk through ancient history and lore.

Books by
Mr. Ed



Where The Redwing Sings

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My Dog Is My Hero

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Curious Creatures - Wondrous Waifs, My Life with Animals

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Through Katrina's Eyes, Poems from an Animal Rescuer's Soul

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Cemetery Island

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Gold River Canyon

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Mystery of Madera Canyon

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Amazon, more..







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