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Walter Learned

(1847-1915 / the United States)

The Last Reservation


Sullen and dull, in the September day,
On the bank of the river,
They waited the boat that should bear them away
From their poor homes forever.

For progress strides on, and the order had gone
To these wards of the nation:
'Give us land and more room,' was the cry, 'and move on
To the next reservation.'

With her babe, she looked back at her home 'neath the trees
From which they were driven,
Where the last camp-fire's smoke, borne out on the breeze,
Rose slowly toward heaven.

Behind her, fair fields, and the forest and glade,
The home of her nation;
Around her, the gleam of the bayonet and blade
Of civilization.

Clasping close to her bosom the small dusky form
With tender caressing,
She bent down, on the cheek of her babe soft and warm
A mother's kiss pressing.

A splash in the river--the column moves on
Close-guarded and narrow,
Noting as little as the two that are gone
As the fall of a sparrow.

Only an Indian! Wretched, obscure,
To refinement a stranger,
And a babe, that was born in a wigwam as poor
And rude as a manger.

Moved on--to make room for the growth in the West
Of a brave Christian nation,
Moved on--thank God, forever at rest
In the last reservation.

Submitted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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