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Cherokee Phoenix and Indian's Advocate
Vol. II, no. 26
Page 4, col. 1a

 

POETRY

INDIAN ELOQUENCE AND GRIEF

Slow with deep'ning gloom,
Age roll'd o'er age, and every bitter year
Smote us with wintry frost some plant of hope,
Which the poor Indian cherish'd.  Still he nurs'd,
Unchill'd, uncheck'd, amidst the tempest's ire
His native eloquence.  Like the wild flame
Of some red meteor, o'er the howling storm
It flash'd, gilding the dark skirts of the cloud
Which curtain'd midnight.  Awfully it shone
Into the soul of Logan, as he wept
That of his race, cold Treachery had spar'd
Not one to mourn for him; -- its darting ray
Flas'd from the eye of Corn-Plant, as he spread
The black'ning transcript of his nation's wrongs
Before great Washington. -- "Thou, at whose name
Our kindling warriors for the battle arm,
Our women tremble, and our frighted babes
Cling to their mothers, yet our frighted babes
Still kind and pitiful, has mov'd our tribes
To call thee father, to thine ear once more
Our Chiefs appeal.

"They come not in base fear,
Who dread nor toil, nor danger; but they seek
Peace for their people.  Corn-plant hath desired
To guard the tree of peace, and as he poured
Fresh dew upon its roots, his arm hath striven
With his own nation.  For in wrath, they ask
Continually, 'Tell us! where is that land
On which our children, and oui children's babes
Shall rest in peace?  Why then do white men come
And take it from us?'--

"  What shall Corn-land urge
To this unhappy race?  His little store
He has imparted to those wretched men
Whom yours have plundered, and unpitying left
Without a garment.  All his wealth is gone,
Yet they remain unsatisfied.  His heart
Shudder to think, that when enraged they rise,
To vengeance, their unsparing hand will whelm
Both Innocence and Guilt.  The flowery Spring,
And favoring Summer, while his brethren tilled
The bounteous Earth, spend in fruitless toil,
Labouring for peace.  The Autumn now is past,
But Corn-Plant hath no harvest.  Said he sees
His famished wife, and hears the thrilling voice
Of his young children, asking him for bread,
When has none to give.  His soul is wrung
With agony for them.--

"-- Yet there are wrongs
Heaped on his nation, which his struggling soul
But ill can bear.  Our noblest blood is shed
By menial hands.  Our Chiefs and warriors fall.
Fall provoked, and in their crimson beds
Sleep unavenged.  The haughty murder stalks
From his dark deed, unpunished passes on,
And finds protection.  From the earth, a voice
Demands our genvence.  That you have a law,
Dooming the man, who sheds his brother's blood
We know.  But are we, Senecas, alone
Cast out from justice?  May the restless swords
Of all malignant rovers drink our blood
And yet be blameless?  Shall the murder find
A refuge in your arms, when our own law
Sanctions the swift avenger to pursue,
And recompense the deed?  Father! to us,
These are great things.  That you are strong we know:
That you are wise, we hear; but we must wait
Till you have answered this, before we say
That you are just."

When rising cities shone
In wealth and splendour, the poor natives roved
Around their bounds, amazed.  Fall'n Pride represt
The words of admiration; but strange awe;
Slavish degeneracy, and the dark frown
Of banished men, sat heavier on the brow.
Once, to the mart, which favoring Commerce reared,
On fair Manhattan, the said Chiefs repaired
To seek an audience.  From a towering height
They marked the goodly prospect.  Lofty spires,
Vast domes, delightful villas, clustering roofs,
Streets, where the countless throng incessant poured,
As pleasure, pomp, or business moved their tides
In murmuring fluctuation; distance dales,
Slumbering in verdure; the majestic flood,
Crown'd with tall masts, and white snowy sails,
Thoughtful they view'd.  Unmov'd the men of wealth,
Who mark'd their own possessions, lightly ask'd
"Why mar'd their own possessions, lightly ask'd
"Why are ye sad?" as once Chaldan's bands
Inquir'd of wasted Judah, where their mirth
And songs had vanish'd, when their unstrung harps
Hung on the willows, and their exil'd feet
Roam'd in captivity.

 -- To them replied
The elder Chief:  "We bear upon our minds
Past times, and other days.  This beauteous land
Was once our fathers'.  Here, din peace they dwelt;
For the Great Spirit gave it as a gift
To them, and to their sons.  But to this shore
Once came a vast canoe, which white men steer'd
Feebly, against the blast.

"Driv'n by rude storms,
They sought permission on our coast to land,
And how could be refuse?  Their sick, they brought,
And in our soft shades, fann'd by gentle gales,
Laid them, and they reviv'd.  But wintry winds
Soon swept the waste, and humbly they besought
Leave to erect a wigwam, while the frost
And snows were raging.  Could our hearts refuse
The stranger shelter?  to our Chiefs they said
With solemn words that when the soft'ning spring
Dissolved the wrath of winter, they would seek
Their distant homes, and leave us to ourselves;
And we were satisfied.  With pitying eye
Their wasted frames we saw, by Famine smit;
We gave them corn, and fed them.  When fair spring
Shone sweetly on the budding earth, we claim'd
Their promise to depart.  But they had rear'd
Strange iron ramparts, which at their command
Breath'd flame and death.  Pointing to these, they said
"We will not!" and indignately they glanc'd
Defiance on us.  Other bands arriv'd
Strength'ning their purpose.  Mad, enticing draughts
Deceitfully they gave us, till the cup
Reft us of reason.  Then they forc'd us back
From field to field, from forest, and from flood.
Where our subsistence lay:  And you, their sons,
Still drive us onward.  You enjoy the land
Of luxury; while we, wasted and scorn'd,
Herd in the wilderness.  But ye will cease
Ere long to press us, for our fading race
Will cease to be.  Think ye, that we can view
These beauteous shores, and yon proud swelling flood,
And not remember that they once were ours?
And thus rememb'ring, need ye wond'ring
Why sorrow clothes our brow?"

Full many a strain
Of native eloquence, simple and wild,
Has ris'n in our dark forests, which the winds
Unheeded, swept away.  Yet, had it broke
From bold Demosthenes, when Athens fear'd
The distant step of Philip, had it burst
From the impetuous Hannibal, when Rome
Muster'd at Zama -- it had been enroll'd
In History's choicest annals the pure eye
Of taste had trickled o'er it, and the lip
Of the young student, had been proud to pour
Its treasur'd pathos.  But thy slighted words,
Untutor'd Red Man! -- Ah!  how few will trace
Their chronicle obscure, and few still
Accord the need of just applause, unmix'd
With scorn upon thy nation.  Lofty, firm,
And high soul'd honour, mocking at the pain
Which wastes the body, once thy sires could boast,
Such as in Rome; amid her better days,
Had been exalted. --
 TRAITS OF ABORIGINES OF AMERICA
Cherokee Phoenix and Indian's Advocate
Vol. II, no. 26
Page 4, col. 1a

POETRY

INDIAN ELOQUENCE AND GRIEF

Slow with deep'ning gloom,
Age roll'd o'er age, and every bitter year
Smote us with wintry frost some plant of hope,
Which the poor Indian cherish'd.  Still he nurs'd,
Unchill'd, uncheck'd, amidst the tempest's ire
His native eloquence.  Like the wild flame
Of some red meteor, o'er the howling storm
It flash'd, gilding the dark skirts of the cloud
Which curtain'd midnight.  Awfully it shone
Into the soul of Logan, as he wept
That of his race, cold Treachery had spar'd
Not one to mourn for him; -- its darting ray
Flas'd from the eye of Corn-Plant, as he spread
The black'ning transcript of his nation's wrongs
Before great Washington. -- "Thou, at whose name
Our kindling warriors for the battle arm,
Our women tremble, and our frighted babes
Cling to their mothers, yet our frighted babes
Still kind and pitiful, has mov'd our tribes
To call thee father, to thine ear once more
Our Chiefs appeal.

"They come not in base fear,
Who dread nor toil, nor danger; but they seek
Peace for their people.  Corn-plant hath desired
To guard the tree of peace, and as he poured
Fresh dew upon its roots, his arm hath striven
With his own nation.  For in wrath, they ask
Continually, 'Tell us! where is that land
On which our children, and oui children's babes
Shall rest in peace?  Why then do white men come
And take it from us?'--

"  What shall Corn-land urge
To this unhappy race?  His little store
He has imparted to those wretched men
Whom yours have plundered, and unpitying left
Without a garment.  All his wealth is gone,
Yet they remain unsatisfied.  His heart
Shudder to think, that when enraged they rise,
To vengeance, their unsparing hand will whelm
Both Innocence and Guilt.  The flowery Spring,
And favoring Summer, while his brethren tilled
The bounteous Earth, spend in fruitless toil,
Labouring for peace.  The Autumn now is past,
But Corn-Plant hath no harvest.  Said he sees
His famished wife, and hears the thrilling voice
Of his young children, asking him for bread,
When has none to give.  His soul is wrung
With agony for them.--

"-- Yet there are wrongs
Heaped on his nation, which his struggling soul
But ill can bear.  Our noblest blood is shed
By menial hands.  Our Chiefs and warriors fall.
Fall provoked, and in their crimson beds
Sleep unavenged.  The haughty murder stalks
From his dark deed, unpunished passes on,
And finds protection.  From the earth, a voice
Demands our genvence.  That you have a law,
Dooming the man, who sheds his brother's blood
We know.  But are we, Senecas, alone
Cast out from justice?  May the restless swords
Of all malignant rovers drink our blood
And yet be blameless?  Shall the murder find
A refuge in your arms, when our own law
Sanctions the swift avenger to pursue,
And recompense the deed?  Father! to us,
These are great things.  That you are strong we know:
That you are wise, we hear; but we must wait
Till you have answered this, before we say
That you are just."

When rising cities shone
In wealth and splendour, the poor natives roved
Around their bounds, amazed.  Fall'n Pride represt
The words of admiration; but strange awe;
Slavish degeneracy, and the dark frown
Of banished men, sat heavier on the brow.
Once, to the mart, which favoring Commerce reared,
On fair Manhattan, the said Chiefs repaired
To seek an audience.  From a towering height
They marked the goodly prospect.  Lofty spires,
Vast domes, delightful villas, clustering roofs,
Streets, where the countless throng incessant poured,
As pleasure, pomp, or business moved their tides
In murmuring fluctuation; distance dales,
Slumbering in verdure; the majestic flood,
Crown'd with tall masts, and white snowy sails,
Thoughtful they view'd.  Unmov'd the men of wealth,
Who mark'd their own possessions, lightly ask'd
"Why mar'd their own possessions, lightly ask'd
"Why are ye sad?" as once Chaldan's bands
Inquir'd of wasted Judah, where their mirth
And songs had vanish'd, when their unstrung harps
Hung on the willows, and their exil'd feet
Roam'd in captivity.

 -- To them replied
The elder Chief:  "We bear upon our minds
Past times, and other days.  This beauteous land
Was once our fathers'.  Here, din peace they dwelt;
For the Great Spirit gave it as a gift
To them, and to their sons.  But to this shore
Once came a vast canoe, which white men steer'd
Feebly, against the blast.

"Driv'n by rude storms,
They sought permission on our coast to land,
And how could be refuse?  Their sick, they brought,
And in our soft shades, fann'd by gentle gales,
Laid them, and they reviv'd.  But wintry winds
Soon swept the waste, and humbly they besought
Leave to erect a wigwam, while the frost
And snows were raging.  Could our hearts refuse
The stranger shelter?  to our Chiefs they said
With solemn words that when the soft'ning spring
Dissolved the wrath of winter, they would seek
Their distant homes, and leave us to ourselves;
And we were satisfied.  With pitying eye
Their wasted frames we saw, by Famine smit;
We gave them corn, and fed them.  When fair spring
Shone sweetly on the budding earth, we claim'd
Their promise to depart.  But they had rear'd
Strange iron ramparts, which at their command
Breath'd flame and death.  Pointing to these, they said
"We will not!" and indignately they glanc'd
Defiance on us.  Other bands arriv'd
Strength'ning their purpose.  Mad, enticing draughts
Deceitfully they gave us, till the cup
Reft us of reason.  Then they forc'd us back
From field to field, from forest, and from flood.
Where our subsistence lay:  And you, their sons,
Still drive us onward.  You enjoy the land
Of luxury; while we, wasted and scorn'd,
Herd in the wilderness.  But ye will cease
Ere long to press us, for our fading race
Will cease to be.  Think ye, that we can view
These beauteous shores, and yon proud swelling flood,
And not remember that they once were ours?
And thus rememb'ring, need ye wond'ring
Why sorrow clothes our brow?"

Full many a strain
Of native eloquence, simple and wild,
Has ris'n in our dark forests, which the winds
Unheeded, swept away.  Yet, had it broke
From bold Demosthenes, when Athens fear'd
The distant step of Philip, had it burst
From the impetuous Hannibal, when Rome
Muster'd at Zama -- it had been enroll'd
In History's choicest annals the pure eye
Of taste had trickled o'er it, and the lip
Of the young student, had been proud to pour
Its treasur'd pathos.  But thy slighted words,
Untutor'd Red Man! -- Ah!  how few will trace
Their chronicle obscure, and few still
Accord the need of just applause, unmix'd
With scorn upon thy nation.  Lofty, firm,
And high soul'd honour, mocking at the pain
Which wastes the body, once thy sires could boast,
Such as in Rome; amid her better days,
Had been exalted. --
 TRAITS OF ABORIGINES OF AMERICA