His bow and quiver prostrate at his side,
Revolving all his fate in still dismay,
Dominion lost, skill baffled, power defied.
“Shades of my fathers!” thus his reverie ran,
“And shall the Red Man thus, in clouds decline,
With no memorial of his name or clan,
Or only left to point the poet’s line,
And tell to other years, the tale of his decline?”
“Oh, is it thus, the noble woodswise race,
Shall steal away to an unhonored tomb,
Who once were lords of the ascendant chase,
And swept the forests in their pristine bloom?
Brave were their hearts, and strong in sinewy strength
They drew the shaft that fell’d the stately deer,
Or spread the craven foeman at his length,
And triumphed in the battle’s wild career,
A wanderer of the woods—lord of the bow and spear.”
“Ah tell me, Spirit of the Golden West!
Say, is it want of knowledge dooms my race?
Or the wild passions of an untamed breast,
That leaves nor peace nor virtue there a place?
Can raging tumults of the mortal soul
Prejudge its fate, and lead the wayward mind
Through seas of want and poverty to roll,
Till in a gloom of fixed despair it find
Life’s path without a friend, and even death unkind?”
“Doth human rectitude, in mind and heart,
The inward purposes of right and wrong
In human acts—so great a boon impart,
Or lead, by their neglect, to thraldom strong?
And can it be, ye messengers of air!
Who know the great high Spirit’s sov’reign will,
So vast a detriment he can prepare
For those who follow nature’s dictates still,
And worship Manitoes on every breezy hill?”
“’Tis wondrous all, and yet there are, I ween,
Some inward inklings of the Indian soul
That whisper to his mind of things unclean,
That taint his rites, and all his life control,
Leading the mind—whenever he would do
An evil act, or e’en the purpose form,
To that High Excellence beyond the view,
Who guides the sun and regulates the storm,
Dispensing winter winds, or summer breezes warm.”