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Indian Legends and Other Poems

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There is an artless tradition among the Indians, related by Irving, of a warrior who saw the thunderbolt lying upon the ground, with a beautifully wrought moccasin on each side of it. Thinking he had found a prize, he put on the moccasins, but they bore him away to the land of spirits, whence he never returned.

Loud pealed the thunderFrom arsenal high,Bright flashed the lightningAthwart the broad sky;Fast o'er the prairie,Through torrent and shade,Sought the red hunterHis hut in the glade. Deep roared the cannonWhose forge is the sun,And red was the chainThe thunderbolt spun;O'er the thick wild woodThere quivered a line,Low 'mid the green leavesLay hunter and pine. Clear was the sunshine,The hurricane past,And fair flowers smiled inThe path of the blast;While in the forestLay rent the huge tree,Up rose the red man,All unharmed and free. Bright glittered each leafWith sunlight and spray,And close at his feetThe thunder-bolt lay,And moccasins, wroughtWith the beads that shine,Where the rainbow hangethA wampum divine. Wondered the hunterWhat spirit was there,Then donned the strange giftWith shout and with prayer;But the stout forestThat echoed the strain,Heard never the voice ofThat red man again. Up o'er the mountain,As torrents roll down,Marched he o'er dark oakAnd pine's soaring crown;Far in the bright westThe sunset grew clear,Crimson and goldenThe hunting-grounds near: Light trod the chieftainThe tapestried plain,There stood his good horseHe'd left with the slain;Gone were the sandals,And broken the spell;A drop of clear dewFrom either foot fell. Long the dark maidenSought, tearful and wide;Never the red manCame back for his bride;With the forked lightningNow hunts he the deer,Where the Great SpiritSmiles ever and near.


During the Revolutionary war, a young American lady was murdered, while dressed in her bridal robe, by a party of Indians, sent by her betrothed to conduct her to the village where he was encamped. After the deed was done, they carried her long hair to her lover, who, urged by a frantic despair, hurried to the spot to assure himself of the truth of the tale, and shortly after threw himself, in battle, on the swords of his countrymen. After this event, the Indians were never successful in their warfare, the spectre of their victim presenting itself continually between them and the enemy.

The worn bird of Freedom had furled o'er our landThe shattered wings, pierced by the despot's rude hand,And stout hearts were vowing, 'mid havoc and strife,To Liberty, fortune, fame, honor, and life. The red light of Morning had scarcely betrayedThe sweet summer blossoms that slept in the glade,When a horseman rode forth from his camp in the wood,And paused where a cottage in loneliness stood.The ruthless marauder preceded him there,For the green vines were torn from the trellis-work fair,The flowers in the garden all hoof-trodden lay,And the rafters were black with the smoke of the fray:But the desolate building he heeded not long,Was it echo, the wind, or the notes of a song...?