So De Soto left them dying,
Heedless of their human crying;
Here he turned them loose to die
Underneath a foreign sky;
But they lived on thicket dross,
On the leaves and Spanish moss—
And I wonder, and I wonder,
When I hear the startled thunder
Of their hoofs die down the reaches
Of these Carolina beaches.
 See the note at the back of the book.
Back River! What a name
For yesterdays come back again today,
Reborn to be tomorrows still the same—
A landgrave built it when the English came;
Then men made houses well
With cunning hands.
And service wore a nearer, feudal guise—
Witness the stone where “Rose,
A faithful servant,” lies.
Parnassus stretches east, beyond that The plantation once called Ararat; But they have gone, Forgotten as an ancient drinking song; And the old houses, dull and roofless, Gape, with their doorways Like a dumb mouth toothless, With snake-engendering rooms that wall in fear, Silent, down forest roadways loved by deer.
Sometimes at nights
These skeletons of houses flash with lights,
And shadow-horsemen ride,
With eery cry of hounds
And shuddering cheer;
While the moon makes her rounds,
Glimmering through windows dead
As the dead eyes in a dead man’s head;
And there is heard a misty horn—
Down in the woods,
Among the moss-draped solitudes,
The voodoo rooster crows,
While owls hoot on forlorn.
But Back River wears
a different face;
It has not changed;—
Time seems to love the place;
Though all about it he has ranged,
Here he has not
Touched with his wand of rot—
Something of its immortal live-oak sap suffuses
Its sturdy men and houses and transfuses
Change into state.
The sunny hours wait at strange behest.
Here restless Time himself has come to rest.
The golden ivory of primeval
Dwells in its Spanish moss,
Falling in living cascades from the trees,
And who goes there in summer hears the bees
Booming among the Pride of India trees,
Dull grumbling tones,
A deaf man dreams,
Like far-off rumbling sound of boulder-stones
Washed down by headlong streams.
This is Time’s temple;
Here he sleepy lies,
Watching the buzzards circle in the skies,
While shrubs slough off the pod,
Making a carpet delicate
Of petals strewn upon the sod,
Fit for the silver slippers of the moon
Upon the streets of Nod.