George Pope Morris

(1802-1864 / USA)

Fragment Of An Indian Poem.

They come!--Be firm--in silence rally!
The long-knives our retreat have found!
Hark!--their tramp is in the valley,
And they hem the forest round!
The burdened boughs with pale scouts quiver,
The echoing hills tumultuous ring,
While across the eddying river
Their barks, like foaming war-steeds, spring!
The blood-hounds darken land and water;
They come--like buffaloes for slaughter!

See their glittering ranks advancing,
See upon the free winds dancing
Pennon proud and gaudy plume.
The strangers come in evil hour,
In pomp, and panoply, and power!
But, while upon our tribes they lower,
Think they our manly hearts will cower
To meet a warrior's doom?

Right they forget while strength they feel;
Our veins they drain, our land they steal;
And should the vanquished Indian kneel,
They spurn him from their sight!
Be set for ever in disgrace
The glory of the red-man's race,
If from the foe we turn our face,
Or safety seek in flight!

They come--Up, and upon them braves!
Fight for your alters and your graves!
Drive back the stern, invading slaves,
In fight till now victorious!
Like lightning from storm-clouds on high,
The hurtling, death-winged arrows fly,
And wind-rows of pale warriors die!--
Oh! never was the sun's bright eye
Looked from his hill-tops in the sky
Upon a field so glorious!

* * * * * *

They're gone--again the red-men rally;
With dance and song the woods resound:
The hatchet's buried in the valley;
No foe profanes our hunting-ground!
The green leaves on the blithe boughs quiver,
The verdant hills with song-birds ring,
While our bark-canoes the river
Skim like swallows on the wing.
Mirth pervades the land and water,
Free from famine, sword, and slaughter.

* * * * * *

Let us, by this gentle river,
Blunt the axe and break the quiver,
While, as leaves upon the spray,
Peaceful flow our cares away.

* * * * * *

Yet, alas! the hour is brief
Left for either joy or grief!
All on earth that we inherit
From the hands of the Great Spirit--
Wigwam, hill, plain, lake, and field--
To the white-man must we yield;
For, like sun-down on the waves,
We are sinking to our graves!

From this wilderness of wo
Like the caravan we go,
Leaving all our groves and streams
For the far-off land of dreams.
There are prairies waving high,
Boundless as the sheeted sky,
Where our fathers' spirits roam,
And the red-man has a home.

Let tradition tell our story.
As we fade in cloudless glory,
As we seek the land of rest
Beyond the borders of the west,
No eye but ours may look upon--

Submitted: Wednesday, October 06, 2010

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