Friday, 23 April 2010


I recall the story of Pocahontas, from when I was a child, how she saved the englishman, Captain John Smith from having his brains bashed out with a big rock, by putting her head over his, and defying her father, her chief, her people, to save him.
This story, of course, like so many I read then, was almost totally mythical.
If you really want to know more, I can tell you she died of smallpox, at Gravesend, in Kent, on the south coast of England.
Or you can read what Powhatan Museum has to say about her.
Here, however, we're just listening to music, Neil Young.
I like content in songs, I like there to be a story in the lyrics, or beautiful images. This song, (like so many of Neil Young's), has both.

Aurora borealis
The icy sky at night
Paddles cut the water
In a long and hurried flight
From the white man
To the fields of green
And the homeland
We've never seen.

They killed us in our tepee
And they cut our women down
They might have left some babies
Cryin' on the ground
But the firesticks
And the wagons come
And the night falls
On the setting sun.

They massacred the buffalo
Kitty corner from the bank
The taxis run across my feet
And my eyes have turned to blanks
In my little box
At the top of the stairs
With my Indian rug
And a pipe to share.

I wish a was a trapper
I would give thousand pelts
To sleep with Pocahontas
And find out how she felt
In the mornin'
On the fields of green
In the homeland
We've never seen.

And maybe Marlon Brando
Will be there by the fire
We'll sit and talk of Hollywood
And the good things there for hire
And the Astrodome
And the first tepee
Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and me
Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and me


  1. She did die in England. (Not married to John Smith, though.) If you say the incident was fiction, I'll let you go on believing that. :) John Smith sure wrote a lot of fiction, for sure. I think the Indians had more novel ways of killing the pathetic dependent white settlers than smashing their heads with rocks. In my opinion (which counts much more than silly movie critics' opinions) the best movie made of her life (fiction to you) was The New World of a few years ago. I wish you would watch it if ever get the chance. I do like your poetry, though.

  2. Anyway, I'm reading the link you provided and learning a lot. Or at least more than I knew. It is a really good source.

    I must admit I still don't know the point of Neil Young's song, though. Or the point of ANYONE stuck in the past or judging the past by modern standards. Maybe when Neil and Marlon meet up, they'll invent a time machine and change the past to their liking.

    You are pretty deep for me today. :)

  3. Neil Young was always a bit too heavy & dominating for me. Crosby Stills & Nash flew with out him. here Just my POV.

    The link is a great perspective. compared to a totally USA point of view.
    British is the new "cool". :)

  4. Let me clarify, M,r Clarity, The fiction I refer to was the story as it was presented to me, as a kid in the nineteen-fifties/sixties. Pocahontas was, of course, a pretty young english girl, but with darker skin, dresses in tasselled buckskins, in tailored skirt and tunic...
    I realised later that the scenes depicted were highly unlikely to be anything like what really happened. John Smith gave two, or more, different accounts. However, we can be reasonably sure that he was captive, and that his captors had decided to kill him, and that he gave Pocahontas credit for interceding upon his behalf, pleading for his life, maybe whilst putting herself between the weapon and the captive man.
    it was also portrayed in the children's story that John Smith came back and married her. That obviously makes it a great romantic story, but isn't true.
    Another man married her. And she did travel to England, and was the sensation of all London, when she was presented at court, as a noble princess, and then, so sadly, she caught a fever, no surprise, London was a disgusting sewer of a place, full of diseases imported from all corners of the world, and stewedalong with home grown ones, before being freely re-exported.
    Every ship full of white men should have carried a big biohazard symbol on its sails.

    Neil Young's song? Well, it's just a song, silly!
    Don't waste your grey matter over-analysing him, he muses on all sorts of stuff. I think the best lines are
    "They massacred the buffalo
    Kitty corner from the bank
    The taxis run across my feet
    And my eyes have turned to blanks
    In my little box
    At the top of the stairs
    With my Indian rug
    And a pipe to share."
    Like Mr Young, if I stood in some mid-western town, sitting, maybe, outside Storebucks, gazing out across a sea of concrete and asphalt, blinded by corporate mirrored glass, I'd be looking across toward the bank, searching for the ghosts of buffalo, seeing that old man, selling brightly coloured, chemically dyed blankets, and fake arrowheads, and trying to imagine him on a painted pony, at ease in his own land.

  5. Um. Overall its too big a subject, and I'd spend too much time thinking about it. But the sun's shining, the sky is blue, and I've got things to do.
    Think of Pocahontas' dad as a guy who'd been nice for too long, who discovered that the visitors were getting more and more agressive, and decided it was time to deal with insurgents , illegal immigrants, biters of the hand that fed, teppichfressers.

  6. Rita!
    That ole Neil Young... I just like him, though he does have a tendency to get a bit whiny.
    I agree, CSNY were great, they added a bit of playfulness, some great songs, but I like Neil Young for his own things too.
    The link of yours, Woodstock... I just watched "Taking Woodstock", which I rather recommend, its a humorous look at how the whole amazing mythical shambles came about.
    "British is the new cool" Zowie! I'll have to get me a T-Shirt saying that before I come to Amurricah!
    (I plan, by the way, to start with only a small colony. After a while of trading beads with your people, I'll push you all westward until you fall off the edge. New Britain will have lots of tea-shops, and old etchings of people with skateboards and cadillacs, the people who were here before. We'll have museums of how you used to live, and if you're lucky, some of you might get jobs cleaning, or selling native trinkets, like Ipads, and such, handcrafted in your reservations. Some of your people, I've noticed, seem addicted to coffee. Plying the elders with coffee will be part of our strategy.

  7. You are so funny! :) "New Britain" what a concept.
    It could happen in this topsy turvy world we live in.
    If you listen to the "right wing wackos" in the U.S. us liberals are ready to give the country over to you socialists or communists or whatever "European" with it's all encompassing funny money means...
    I laff because I have no idea what goes on over there. I just assume we are all human beings, with the same wants & desires at the level that really matters, even back in John Smith & Pocahontas' day, people just wanted to be understood.

  8. Neil is quite the nice to read the lyrics.


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