LO ! as I strive the red man's fate to sing,
A sigh pathetic sweeps the minstrel's string;
Fain would he twine one mournful wreath to grace
The urn that holds the ashes of their race.
From sea to sea, from Mexic Gulf to Lake,
Free as the winds the wilderness that shake,
Shining with arms majestic, sternly grand,
He mov'd, the guardian sovereign of the land.
No gilded court, no jewell'd crown, had he,
Nor silken slaves to bend the servile knee;
No sumptuous board, enrich'd with precious plate,
Nor palace gorgeous with imperial state;
No grand cathedral, where vain man adores,
Through whose stain'd panes light's color'd torrent pours.
Not such his state; the woods his only home,
The hills his shrine, God's azure skies his dome,
In whose blue depths celestial spirits seem
To bless the kneeling savage by his stream.
Rough was his garb; the hunter's dangerous toil
Clad his brown limbs with wild beasts' shaggy spoil;
The forest-game a frugal repast gave,
His simple drink the streamlet's crystal wave;
His home a cabin form'd of limb and bough,
His bark the light canoe with bended prow.
Content with these, life tranquil sped away,
A pleasant dream, with blissful visions gay.
He lov'd the realm so brightly spread around,
Rich with broad pastures, with wild wood-lands crown'd;
He loved his tribe, his children, and his bride,
Nor ask'd for greater joys than these supplied.
When Twilight soft its roseate glories shed,
And Eve her purple drapery cast around,
And up the sky the Moon of harvest led
Her train of stars, on their bright journey bound,
Curl'd the blue smoke from many a cabin hearth;
The evening air with childish prattle rang,
While aged chieftains mingled in the mirth,
And lit the pipe, or martial measures sang.
Then loud his hollow drum the warrior smote,
And reedy pipes with shrilly music sound,
And bead-strong conch, and horn of startling note,
And jingling bells to youthful ankles bound.
Forth stepp'd each forest-damsel o'er the turf,
Her forehead grac'd with many a wild-wood flower,
And milk-white shells pluck'd from the chafing surf,
And the blithe dance prolong'd the festal hour.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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