[Illustration: The Farewell]
farewell! The deepening eve doth warn,
And the mild moonlight beckons thee away;
And, ere the lingering night shall melt to morn,
Let thy swift foot across the prairie stray.
Nay, tempt me not! for I alone am cast,
A wretch from all I used to grieve or bless;
And doomed to wail and wander here at last,
Am deeply wedded to the wilderness.
Thy hand again shall feel the thrilling grasp
Of friendship—and thine ear shall catch the tone
Of joyous kindred; and thine arm shall clasp,
Perchance, some gentle bosom to thine own.
Oh God! ’tis right—for he hath never torn,
With his own daring hand the thread of life—
He ne’er hath stolen thy privilege, or borne
A fellow mortal down in murderous strife!
farewell! these woods shall be my home,
And here shall be my grave! My hour is brief,
But while it lasts, it is my task to roam,
And read of Heaven from nature’s open leaf.
And though I wander from my race away,
As some lone meteor, dim and distant, wheels
In wintry banishment, where but a ray
Of kindred stars in timid twilight steals—
Still will I catch the light that faintly falls
Through my leaf-latticed window of the skies,
And I will listen to the voice that calls
From heaven, where the wind stricken forest sighs.
And I will read of dim Creation’s morn,
From the deep archives of these mossy hills—
On wings of wizard thought, my fancy, borne
Back by the whispers of these pouring rills,
Shall read the unwritten record of the land—
For God, unwitnessed here hath walked the dell,
These cliffs have quivered at his loud command,
These waters blushed, where his deep shadow fell!
And at his bidding, ’mid these solitudes,
The ebb and flow of life have poured their waves,
Till Time, the hoary sexton of these woods,
Despairing, broods o’er the uncounted graves.
And warrior tribes have come from some far land,
And made these mountains echo with their cry—
And they have mouldered—and their mighty hand
Hath writ no record on the earth or sky!
And ’mid the awful stillness of their grave,
The forest oaks have flourished; and the breath
Of years hath swept their races, wave on wave,
As ages fainted on the shores of death.
The tumbling cliff perchance hath thundered deep,
Like a rough note of music in the song
Of centuries, and the whirlwind’s crushing sweep,
Hath ploughed the forest with its furrows strong.