And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Indian Burying-Ground

In spite of all the learn'd have said,
I still my old opinion keep;
The posture that we give the dead,
Points out the soul's eternal sleep.

Not so the ancients of these lands—
The Indian, when from life released,
Again is seated with his friends,
And shares again the joyous feast.

His imaged birds, and painted bowl,
And venison, for a journey dress'd,
Bespeak the nature of the soul,
Activitiy, that knows no rest.

His bow, for action ready bent,
And arrows, with a head of stone,
Can only mean that life is spent,
And not the old ideas gone.

Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way,
No fraud upon the dead commit—
Observe the swelling turf, any say
They do not lie, but here they sit.

Here still a lofty rocky remains,
On which the curious eye may trace
(Now wasted, half, by wearing rains)
The fancies of a ruder race.

Here still an aged elm aspires,
Beneath whose far-projecting shade
(And which the shepherd still admires)
The children of the forest play'd!

There oft a restless Indian queen
(Pale Shebah, with her braided hair)
And many a barbarous form is seen
To chide the man that lingers there.

By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews,
In habit for the chase array'd
The hunter still the deer pursues,
The hunter and the deer, a shade!

And long shall timorous fancy see
The painted chief and pointed spear;
And Reason's self shall bow the knee
To shadows and delusions here.
--by Philip Freneau

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Prophecy of King Tammany

"The Indian Chief who, fam'd of yore
Saw Europe's sons advent'ring here
Look'd sorrowing to the crowded shore,
And sighing dropt a tear:
He saw them half his world explore,
He saw them draw the shining blade,
He saw their hostile ranks display'd,
And cannons blazing thro' that shade,
Where only peace was known before.

"Ah what unequal arms! he cry'd,
How are thou fall'n my country s pride,
The rural sylvan reign!
Far from our pleasing shores to go
To Western Rivers, winding slow,
Is this the boon the Gods bestow?
What have we done, great patrons, say,
That strangers seize our woods away,
And drive us naked from our native plain?
Rage and revenge inspire my soul,
And passion burns without control
Hence strangers, to your native shore,
Far from our Indian shades retire.
Remove these Gods that vomit fire,
And stain with blood these ravag'd glades no more.

In vain I weep, in vain I sigh,
These strangers all our arms defy,
As they advance our chieftains die!—
What can their hosts oppose?
The bow has lost its wonted spring,
The arrow faulters on the wing,
Nor carries ruin from the string
To end their being and our woes.
"Yes yes—I see our nation bends;
The Gods no longer are our friends,
But why these weak complaints and sighs?
Are there not gardens in the West,
Where all our far fam'd Sachems rest?
I ll go an unexpected guest;
And the dark horrors of the way despise.

"Ev'n now the thundering peals draw nigh,
‘Tie theirs to triumph, ours to die!
But mark me, Christians, ere I go—
Thou too shalt have thy share of woe,
The time rolls on, not moving slow,
When hostile squadrons for your blood shall come,
And ravage all your shore!
Your warriors and your children slay,
And some in dismal dungeons lay,
Or lead them captive far away,
To climes unknown, thro' seas untry'd before.
"When struggling long, at last with pain,
You brake a cruel tyrant's chain,
That never shall be joined again,
When half your foes are homeward fled,
And hosts on hosts in triumph fled,
And hundreds maim'd and thousands dead,
A timid race shall then succeed,
Shall slight the virtues of the firmer race,
That brought your tyrants to disgrace,
Shall give your honours to an odious train,
Who shunn'd all conflicts on the main,
And dar'd no battles on the plain,
Whose little souls sunk in the gloomy day,
When Virtues only could support the fray,
And sunshine friends keep off or ran away.

"So spoke the chief; and rais'd his funeral pyre—
Around him soon the crackling flames ascend;
He smil'd amid the fervours of the fire,
To think his troubles were so near their end,.
Till the freed soul, her debt to nature paid,
Rose from the ashes that her prison made,
And sought the world unknown, and dark oblivion's shade. "