In spite of all the learned 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 dressed,
Bespeak the nature of the soul,
Activity, that wants 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 and say,
They do not lie, but here they sit.
Here still a lofty rock 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 played.
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 misting dews,
In habit of the chase arrayed,
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,
The Reason’s self shall bow the knee
To shadows and delusions here.
“RANK ON RANK OF GHOSTLY SOLDIERS”
As I sat musing by the frozen dyke,
There was one man marching with a bright steel pike,
Marching in the daylight, like a ghost came he,
And behind me was the moaning and the murmur of the sea.
As I sat musing, ’twas not one but ten—
Rank on rank of ghostly soldiers marching o’er the fen,
Marching in the misty air they showed in dreams to me,
And behind me was the shouting and the shattering of the sea.
As I sat musing, ’twas a host in dark array,
With their horses and their cannon wheeling onward to the fray,
Moving like a shadow to the fate the brave must dree,
And behind me roared the drums, rang the trumpets of the sea.
A Ballad of Ninety-eight
The soul of the fair young man sprang up
From the earth where his body lay,
And he was aware of a grim dark soul
Companioning his way.
“Who are you, brother?” the fair soul
“We wing together still!”
And the soul replied that was swart and red,
“The spirit of him who shot you dead
By the blockhouse on the hill.