John Gardiner Calkins Brainard

(1796-1828 / the United States)

Leather Stocking - Poem by John Gardiner Calkins Brainard

FAR away from the hill side, the lake, and the hamlet,
The rock, and the brook, and yon meadow so gay;
From the footpath that winds by the side of the streamlet;
From his hut, and the grave of his friend, far away —
He is gone where the footsteps of men never ventured,
Where the glooms of the wild-tangled forest are centered,
Where no beam of the sun or the sweet moon has entered,
No bloodhound has roused up the deer with his bay.
He has left the green ally for paths, where the bison
Roams through the praries, or leaps o'er the flood;
Where the snake in the swamp sucks its deadliest poison,
And the cat of the mountains keeps watch for its food;
But the leaf shall be greener, the sky shall be purer,
The eye shall be clearer, the rifle be surer,
And stronger the arm of the fearless endurer,
That trusts nought but Heaven in his way through the wood.
Light be the heart of the poor lonely wanderer;
Firm be his step through each wearisome mile—
Far from the cruel man, far from the plunderer;
Far from the track of the mean and the vile.
And when death, with the last of its terrors, assails him,
And all but the last throb of memory fails him,
He'll think of the friend, far away, that bewails him,
And light up the cold touch of death with a smile.
And there shall the dew shed its sweetness and lustre;
There for his pall shall the oak leaves be spread—
The sweet brier shall bloom, and the wild grape shall cluster;
And o'er him the leaves of the ivy be shed.
There shall they mix with the fern and the heather;
There shall the young eagle shed its first feather;
The wolves, with his wild dogs, shall lie there together,
And moan o'er the spot where the hunter is laid.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 18, 2010

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