SDOHC's Mission

The SDOHC is devoted to documenting the history of the Northern Plains region and the care of previously collected interviews.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Advice from the Cash Library

As we all know, finding the right words when it comes to matters of the heart can be extremely difficult. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you might be under more pressure than usual to affirm your affections in an overstated manner. Luckily for you, we here at the South Dakota Oral History Center are here to assist you with your needs.

One of the many collections we house here is the The Joseph Harper Cash Memorial Library. According to the University of South Dakota’s website, the Cash Library “holds collections of donated books, catalogues, directories, maps, and several resources useful to the study of Native American heritage and the history of South Dakota.”

Within this small library, I was able to locate several anthologies of American Indian poetry and prose. These anthologies provide English translations of a wide variety of songs, chants, stories, and poetry from tribes all across North and South America.

Naturally, no book of poetry is complete without several poems dedicated to the trials and tribulations of love. I have compiled a collection of several poems dealing with different situations to assist those of you who may be struggling to come up with something unique on Valentine’s Day.

Have you recently met your special someone?

“Love Song”

I am thinking
I am thinking
I have found my lover
I think it is so

Perhaps you have fierce competition for the heart of your beloved and need to persuade her why you are the right choice.

(taken from) “Formula to Attract Affections”

Ha! I belong to the Wolf clan,
That one alone which was allotted for you.
No one is ever lonely with me. I am handsome.
Let her put her soul
Into the very center of my soul, never to turn away.
Grant that in the midst of men
She shall never think of them.
I belong to the one clan alone which was allotted for you
When the seven clans were established. […]

That’s a pretty difficult offer to turn down, don’t you think? This guy sounds pretty great! He’s good-looking, knows how to show a girl a good time, and he wants to be the only guy I’ll ever want to love. 
Sounds like this is a formula for romantic success!

Maybe you’re frustrated because the object of your affection is playing hard to get.

#2 from “Two Love Songs”

My sweetheart, we surely could have gone home,
But you were afraid!
When it was night we surely could have gone home,
But you were afraid!

Alas, you are not dating because an ex is still on your mind!

“Love Song”

No matter how hard I try,
to forget you,
you always
come back to my mind,
and when you hear me singing
you may know
I am weeping for you.

Perhaps you and your love are separated by time or space.

“Love Song”

I know not whether thou hast been absent:
I lie down with thee, I rise up with thee,
In my dreams thou art with me.
If my eardrops tremble in my ears,
I know it is thou moving within my heart.

Your family may not approve of your relationship.

Part I of “The Parted Lovers”

(The man sings)
My parents think they can separate me from the girl I love;
We have vowed to love another while we live.
Their commands are vain: we shall see each other while the world lasts.
Yes! Let them say and do as they like; we shall see each other while the rocks stand.
(The woman sings)
Here I sit on this point, whence I can see the man that I love.
Our people think they can sever us; but I shall see him while the world lasts.
Here I shall remain, in sight of the one I love.

How about a good old-fashioned poem comparing your love to the sun and the moon?

“The Heart’s Friend”
(Shoshone Love Song)

Fair is the white star of twilight,
And the sky clearer
At the day’s end;
But she is fairer, and she is dearer
She, my heart’s friend!
Fair is the white star of twilight,
And the moon roving
To the sky’s end;
But she is fairer, better worth loving,
She, my heart’s friend.

Last but not least, something for those of you who might have recently been dumped by a really dumb guy.

I from “Songs of the Woman”

I don't care
                if you desert me.
Many pretty boys are in the town.
Soon I shall take another one.
That is not hard for me!

We here at the SDOHC hope this post has been helpful to you, no matter what your romantic situation! If you would like to check out the anthologies these poems came from, come to the Cash Library in Dakota Hall 12 and check out these anthologies: American Indian Prose and Poetry: ‘The Winged Serpant.’ An Anthology edited by Margot Astrov. American Indian Poetry: An Anthology of Songs & Chants. Edited by George W Cronyn.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

[This blog post brought to you by Betsey Horton]

If you have any questions, requests, or donations for the SDOHC please email!
Thank you for your continued interest!