Tecumseh Poem by Chief Tecumseh
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view,
and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.
When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing,
for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.
When it comes your time to die,
be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time
to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
Listen to the Tecumseh Poem on YouTube –
About the Poet-
Chief Tecumseh (Born in modern-day Ohio) was a Shawnee chief and warrior who led the protests against the US government's colonization of Native American lands. He unified the native tribes around the Great Lakes of North America. Chief Tecumseh was a skilled orator who toured far and wide while establishing a confederation of Native Americans and encouraging intertribal harmony. Even though his attempts to reunite Native Americans were unsuccessful because of his death in the war of 1812, he nonetheless rose to fame as a historic folk hero in North American history.
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” ― Mark Twain
About the Poem
The poem "Live Your Life" by Chief Tecumseh is an inspirational poem for everyone. This poem may be broken up into three stanzas or three independent gospels for life. The lines of the Tecumseh Poem are written in free verse. This indicates that there was no fixed rhyme scheme or metrical pattern used by the poet. The lyrics in this poem are astute one-liners compiled together. Interestingly, this poem is one of a kind in which the poet looks at life as though he is standing at the finish line and is telling fellow human beings- ‘A way to live’ from his knowledge and experience.
It creates an abstract character image of who we should grow to be. Even though the poem feels pensive and gloomy it is a reminder for a person of any age, gender, and ethnicity of the important lessons that we seemed to have forgotten. The poem speaks about focuses on the importance of living one’s life the right way to refrain from regretting life choices and decisions at the time of death. The use of direct speech, simple language, and lack of complex literary devices sets this poem apart from similar literature from the era. What does the Chief Tecumseh Poem mean?
Analysis of the Poem
Chief Tecumseh starts his poem ‘Live your life’ by telling us all that throughout our life we should try to live in a manner that ensures we are not afraid to die. Here the poet does not refer to being violent or offensive towards someone on the other hand he suggests simple ways or checkboxes to ensure our life is better than what it was. In an era where media has the power to cause rifts in society, such literature is of foremost importance.
Firstly, the poet asks us all to respect each other and maintain harmony in diversity. We must value and support people of all religions and cultures. We must respect others for them to respect us. The visionary poet addresses the problem of today- we must love ourselves first, strive to be better daily, and live a life that has a purpose beyond simply existing in this time and place. We owe our success, to the society we live in, and we must improve it. The first stanza focuses on affirmations to follow in our life.
Chief Tecumseh starts with death again however it is not a note of depression but inspiration. Death is inevitable, we cannot control our lives, but we can surely make a noble and honest living out of it. Sometimes all we need is someone to tell us that we are not alone. Chief Tecumseh asserts us to acknowledge our friends and families because they are the ones who will be with us till the end. He advises us even to treat strangers with kindness. The Tecumseh poem delivers the need to respect everyone for who they are, and to not leg of our morals and dignity for anyone, no person or wealth is worth that much of a sacrifice.
The poet asks the world to express gratitude. Like traditions and practices followed in several cultures across the world, the poet enunciates us to be grateful for food, health, and the wonderful life that we have been blessed with. He means that we must not take even the simplest needs for life as granted. If we hurt someone or cheat on someone the victim will suffer but our image will be tarnished more. Having a superiority complex or deriving a sadistic mentality does not mean you can say something wrong to others and move ahead without consequences. Thus we must pay off for all our sins before we abode on the final journey. The poet is aware of the wisdom of our world, and he believes in the balance or justice that exists between right and wrong.
It is not length of life, but depth of life." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the final stanza of the poem, the poet concentrates on the central theme which is death. Even though the poet respects religion he has not written this stanza in a biblical sense. This stanza is no revelation. Chief Tecumseh treats death as a stepping stone and not the end. Chief Tecumseh, being a brave heart, despises the cowardice amongst people when it comes to the natural phenomenon of death. We have done something wrong in our life if we have unfinished business and a woeful demand for more time. It simply means that we were unable to fulfill our vision and mission in the time that we had. In the final lines of the poem, the poet refers to the dauntless people who partake in the final journey as nothing less than heroes. The concept conveyed by the poet here is of a spiritual sense. The notion goes beyond the physical body and the worldly pleasures of human existence. ‘A hero going home’ speaks about not just a soul but a reunion with the loved ones we all have lost at some point in our lives. This final deep essence of spirituality makes the reader lose morose thoughts and become hopeful even while pondering over the dark concept of death.
“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I do not see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.” ― Hunter S. Thompson
What can we take from this poem?
Death has always been a topic of mystery for writers. Strangely, this poem makes us understand the hard truth of life. Death is inevitable, and everything and everyone must end but it matters how we reach that point. How did we spend the time that we have been blessed with? Did we just vile away our money, values, and knowledge? Or did we use our time for the betterment of the social, economic, or scientific development of the world?
From the first stanza which concentrates on self, the poet gradually takes us to the second stanza which focuses on society; and finally, the third part speaks about death- this poem is a piece of great advice suited for the people of the 21st century. Our life must mean something worthwhile, and the day we die we must not run away from death. We can embrace death courageously only if we have used our life to its fullest potential. Every religion has a different belief attached to the concept of death.
Death was not the opposite of life. It was already here, within my being, it has always been here, and no struggle would permit me to forget that. – Haruki Murakami
Some believe that gods and angels themselves come to gather the soul. While others believe in the concept of the afterlife and rebirth. Some religions have attached stories of ferries and circles of hell. The poet uses the word ‘sing’ not as an inclination towards any religion or culture but as an emotion. No matter how we leave the world of the living, in the end, we must be happy and carefree enough to sing. We should not be carrying our life’s burden then. Our life should have made the change in the world we were destined to make.
Our concluding thoughts.
Tecumseh Poem holds a philosophy beyond funeral and death. It is a pledge, prayer, and sagacious advice to humanity on how to live a tomorrow different from today. Even if we all incorporate a small part of the poem into our daily life, we could all progress. Death is not an endgame to be worried about. If we move in the right direction, the journey we took till our last moments makes our end peaceful and content. The poem is the guide to achieving that inner peace at the time of our death.