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|The Twin Guardians of the Golden Gate.
Would you know the mystic legend
Of the peaks of San Francisco -
Of the Twin Peaks standing Guardian
Of the gay and careless city,
Ever laughing by the gateway
Of our Golden California?
Would you know what brings the westwind,
With its cool and filmy vapors
Trailing like a scarf of chiffon
Through the narrow Golden Gateway,
Screening shore and hills and harbor,
While the country all around it
Bathes in floods of golden sunshine?
Would you know why great Sea Lions
Flounder on the rocky islands,
Standing by the Golden Gateway?
Why they fight in baffled fury,
Barking ever at the mainland?
Listen then, and I will tell you
As the legend was related
By an ancient Tamal woman,
As she sat beside the campfire
In a grove of giant redwoods
On the slopes of Tamalpais.
"It was long ago, my children,
Long ago, in mystic ages
When the Gods lived near the people,
Who, like infants newly mothered,
Needed care and help and guidance.
As the children call to parents
So the people called to Spirits.
Then the Gods were quick to listen,
Quick to teach them and protect them,
Quick to punish when they trespassed
On the rights of one another.
Near the place where Holy Fathers
Built the Mission of Dolores
Was a village of the Tamals,
Vanished now for many ages.
By it was a singing streamlet,
Where the willows waved their banners;
Round it giant redwoods clustered,
Redolent with forest odors;
Live oaks, bay trees, and madronas
Billowed over plains and hillsides.
Through the forest ranged the hunters,
Seeking game in glen and canyon,
Meat for food, and fur for raiment;
Vanquishing the forest creatures
With flint arrows and stone axes;
Seeking fish in bay and river
With the spear or net of sinew.
On the bay the warriors paddled
In canoes of bark or rawhide,
Or in mighty redwood dugouts
Dared the currents of the narrows
Training warriors to be ready
To defend their shores and harbor.
From the North the foemen threatened,
As an ever-present shadow.
O'er the water came the foemen,
In a mighty fleet of warboats;
Every summer came the foemen,
Came and fought and then retreated.
In his tepee sat the Chieftain
With the Old Men, wise in counsel;
All their hearts were solely troubled -
Every summer brought the foemen,
Those bronze men of fearless courage,
Waxing stronger every season -
Long they counseled with each other;
Would the foemen come and conquer?
Could the Tamals long withstand them?
Thus they questioned in the Council
While they planned their last defenses.
To the Council came the sisters,
Yana fair, and Tana fearless,
Twins, and daughters of the Chieftain,
Came and stood before the wise men,
Came and bowed their heads and waited.
Well the wise men knew the sisters,
Maidens blooming into women,
Loved them for their grace and beauty,
For the joy they radiated,
For the charm that emanated
From their chaste and gentle spirits,
As the perfume that is wafted
From the rose buds newly opened.
Yet the Wise Men gave no welcome,
Turned their eyes from Maids to Chieftain.
"Why, my Daughters, have you ventured
Into this, the warrior's council?
Well you know it is forbidden;
Neither man nor woman enters
When the warriors plan for battle."
"Let us speak," the Maidens answered,
"For we bring a warning message.
As we wandered on the ridges
Gathering the golden poppies
To adorn our Mother's tepee,
We were talking of the danger
From the foemen of the Northland,
When a Maiden stood before us,
Strangely fair, with golden tresses,
Eyes of deep blue like the lupins,
Dressed in garlands made of poppies.
Hand in hand we stood and wondered,
Till the lovely apparition
Smiled and caused our fears to vanish.
'I am the Spirit of the Country,'
Said the Maiden of the Poppies,
'And I choose you, my Twin Daughters,
For the beauty of your bodies,
And the worth of soul within you,
As the saviors of your people,
As the guardians of my harbor.
Take the message to your Chieftain,
That the foe comes from the Northland;
Yet they shall not harm your people
If you stand upon the hilltop
With the talisman I give you.
Take this Magic Iris with you,
Guard it well for every petal
Has a charm that brings an answer
To a prayer that is unselfish,
To a prayer for all the people
That will live around your harbor.
Never, while you guard the hilltop,
Shall a foe invade your country.
Petals three there are; three wishes
Shall be granted when you make them.'
Then the Poppy Maiden vanished,
And we hastened to our village.
Hand in hand, we ran so swiftly
That our feet but touched the flowers;
While above our heads the wild ducks
Flying southward clamored hoarsely,
'They are coming; They are coming!'
Sea gulls, winging from the ocean,
Shrieked their warning, 'They are coming!'
Then we dared to brave your Council
With the message of the Maiden,
And the warning of the seabirds.
'It is well,' the Chieftain answered,
'Daughters with the eyes of springtime
And the faces of the flowers,
It is well. The Gods have marked you
With their sign upon the forehead;
You have stood before a Goddess,
And her spirit is upon you.'
Long the Old Men sat and pondered.
Well they knew the ears of children
Are attuned to hear the voices
Of the Gods and Guardian Spirits.
Well they knew that all wild creatures
Speak to man if one is worthy
To receive their friendly warning;
Knew that seabirds, swift and cunning,
See the foemen while their war boats
Still are far beyond the sea-rim.
Thus they reasoned in their council,
Then they stood before the people
While the Chieftain gave his orders.
'Beat the war drums. Call the warriors.
Man the war canoes, and station
Sentinels upon the headlands
Up the coast-land to Bolinas.
Let them light the lurid war fires,
When they see the foemen coming.'
Swiftly northward raced the sentries
In their light canoes of deerskin -
Through the narrows to Bonita,
On the ocean to Bolinas.
All was tumult in the village;
To each warrior was given
Long bows, strong bows, wrapped with sinews,
Stores of arrows, eagle feathered,
Newly tipped with sharpest flint-heads;
Stone head war clubs, wrapped with rawhide;
Shields of oakwood, tough and heavy.
Women decked the braves with feathers,
Robes of fur, and charms of seashell;
Roused their courage with the stories
Of the prowess of their Fathers;
Cheered with songs of deeds of valor
Of the heroes of the Tamals;
While the children, heavy hearted,
Watched the scene in wide-eyed wonder.
Every day the Chieftain's daughters,
As twin sentinels were standing
On the hill between the valley
And the blue expanse of ocean.
Every day they watched the Morning
Reach his rosy fingers upward,
From behind the eastern mountains,
Painting with an elfin fancy,
Crimson edges on the cloudbanks;
Then erasing and repainting
Them with gold or mauve or amber;
Always changing, as his fancy
Swayed the child to blend the colors;
Till Old Father Sun uprising,
Drove his elfin son to shelter
From the dazzle of his presence.
All day long the faithful sisters
Stood upon the ridge and waited -
Waited while the Sun ascended,
Crossed the zenith, then descended
On his daily westward journey.
Watched him sink into the ocean
As a molten globe of metal;
While the fleecy clouds above him
Caught afire, and blazed in beauty,
Radiating flaming colors
Through the changing clouds, and lighting
O'er the purple sea a pathway
Glinting in a golden glory.
Evening came, and still they waited -
While the heavenly dome turned purple,
And the twinkling stars were lighted,
One by one, until the darkness
Scintillated with their sparkle;
And a milky way of star-dust
Arched across, to hold the heavens
High above the reach of mortals.
Through the night they watched and waited -
While the silver moon was racing
Through the silken clouds, and flooding
All the bay and hills and ocean
With a pale illumination,
Casting moving shadows earthward
When a dark cloud passed before her.
Wild Coyotes broke the silence
Of the midnight with their barking,
And the prowling Wolves crept nearer,
Till the patter of their footsteps
Could be heard in stealthy rushes.
Still the fearless Sisters waited,
Watched the north for signal fires,
And in eager alternation
Held the Magic Yellow Iris.
Came at last the welcome singing
Of the Meadow Lark and Robin,
And above the eastern mountains
Flushed the rose-light of the morning;
Then again the sky was tinted
By the Elf who plays with colors,
And the sleeping poppies wakened
When the sunbeams kissed their eyelids.
From the Heights of Point Bonita
Rose a thread of smoke that lengthened,
Broadened, flaunted like a banner,
Black and ominous of evil.
"They are coming!" Yana whispered,
"See, the signal fires are lighted!
They are coming. Guardian Spirit
Of our native country, save us!"
And she pressed the Yellow Iris
Closely to her throbbing bosom.
Over northern rim of ocean
Came the war canoes by hundreds,
Came until the waters darkened
With the number of the warboats.
Never could the Tamals conquer
Such a multitude of foemen.
Swiftly rose and fell their paddles,
Flashing in the brilliant sunshine,
Trailing scarfs of foam behind them,
As they raced toward the harbor.
Tana searched the far horizon,
Saw the signal fires blazing
On the mountain tops and headlands,
Heard the war drums in the village
Roll in constant wild alarum.
Yana held the Yellow Iris
With the Magic in its petals,
Held and gazed with adoration
On the velvet mystic markings.
Then she plucked a magic petal,
Held it high, and ere it fluttered
To the breeze this prayer was uttered:
'Spirit of our Native Country,
Goddess guarding home and harbor,
Roll the fog-banks o'er the headlands,
Hide the narrows from the foemen;
Bring the west-wind from the ocean,
Drive their boats to crash and shatter
On the rocky surf-bound islands.
Bring the west-wind! Bring the fogbanks!'
From the ocean came the west-wind,
Blowing stronger, growing cooler,
Bringing in protecting fog-banks,
Sweeping landward o'er gray waters,
Flooding through the Golden Gateway,
Rolling over shore and headlands.
Through the fog the boats were racing
For the entrance to the harbor,
When they plunged into the smother
Of the breakers round the islands -
Crashed upon the rocks and splintered.
From the surf the foemen struggled
To the rocks and scrambled on them.
Then the Maiden plucked another
Petal from the Magic Iris,
And she prayed again, 'Oh, Spirit
Of our Native Country, hear us,
Change the foemen to Sea-creatures,
That they never more attack us.'
As the magic petal fluttered
To the ground the foe was changing.
Arms and paddles changed to flippers;
Legs were bound as in a bandage,
And their brown and hairy bodies
Wriggled on the rocks, and crowded,
Barking, fighting one another.
When the danger was averted,
When the enemy was helpless,
Sisters wept, embraced each other,
Thanked the Gods for their deliverance.
Still remained another petal
Of the Magic Yellow Iris.
'One more wish we have, one only.'
Said one sister to the other,
'Would we might remain forever,
As the guardians of the harbor,
To protect it from all foemen,
To invoke the fog and west-wind.'
Then, again The Poppy Maiden
Stood triumphantly before them.
'You have chosen well, my children,
Had you wished for wealth or beauty,
Robes or jewels for adornment,
Or for any selfish purpose,
Then the petals would have fallen
To the earth and lost their Magic.
My twin daughters, ever faithful,
All your thoughts are for your people;
Therefore, you shall be immortal,
Standing on the heights forever,
As the Guardians of the Harbor.
Draw your mantles around your shoulders,
Furs they are, but flowers they shall be.
As my garments are of flowers,
So shall yours be, golden poppies,
Lupins, blue, shall deck your mantle.
Blue and gold shall be your colors -
Blue, for purity of purpose;
Gold, for worth of soul and spirit.
While you stand above the harbor,
While you call the fog and west-wind,
While you wear your cloak of poppies,
Never shall a foeman enter
Through the Golden Gate with war-boats.
Pluck the petal, let it flutter
To the ground. Your wish is granted.
Stand forever, native daughters,
As Twin Peaks, to guard the harbor.'
That was long ago, my children,
When the earth was young, and people
Heard the voices of the Spirits -
Knew the language of the sea-birds.
To this day the ancient warriors
Flounder on the Sea Rock Islands,
Barking, roaring, crowding, fighting,
Near the gateway of the harbor.
Still the Sisters, as the Twin Peaks,
Guard the city and the harbor.
In the summer, at the season
When the ancient foes came southward,
They invoke the cooling west-wind
With its fog, to screen the harbor;
Yet, the sunlight seeks the valley
Where the ancient tepees clustered,
Beaming there in benediction,
While around it lie the shadows.'
That, my children, is the legend
Told beside the evening campfire
By the ancient Tamal woman,
In a grove of giant redwoods,
On the slopes of Tamalpais.