Had I not cradled you in my arms,
Oh beloved perfidious one,
you would have died.
And how many times did I pluck you
from certain death in the wilderness-
my world through which you stumbled
as though blind?
Had I not set you tasks,
Your masters far across the sea
Would have abandoned you-
did abandon you, as many times
they left you
to reap the harvest of their lies.
Still you survived, oh my fair husband,
and brought them gold
wrung from a harvest I taught you
to plant. Tobacco.
It is not without irony that by this crop
your descendants die, for other
powers than you know
take part in this as in all things.
And indeed I did rescue you
not once but a thousand times
and in my arms you slept, a foolish child,
and under my protecting gaze you played,
chattering nonsense about a god
you had not wit to name. I'm sure
you wondered at my silence, saying I was
a simple wanton, a savage maid,
dusky daughter of heathen sires
who cartwheeled naked through the muddy towns
learning the ways of grace only
by your firm guidance, thought
your husbandly rule:
no doubt, no doubt.
I spoke little, you said.
And you listened less,
but played with your gaudy dreams
and sent ponderous missives to the throne
striving thereby to curry favor
with your king.
I saw you well. I
understood your ploys and still
protected you, going so far as to die
in your keeping-a wasting
putrefying Christian death-and you,
deceiver, whiteman, father of my son,
survived, reaping wealth greater
than any you had ever dreamed
from what I taught you and
from the wasting of my bones.
The language of this text presents Pocahontas as a wise and capable woman betrayed by her incompetent, ambitious husband. In this case, social custom favoring white Christian men kept her subordinate, rather than her lack of intelligence or experience.