The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/Cherokee
Gaze on this landscape! once in fleet career,
The desert chieftain trod exulting here!
Cleft with light bark the still and shaded floods,
Pierced the recesses of the old gray woods;
Pour'd ‘midst their hidden dells his wild halloo,
And the light shaft with aim unerring threw.
Proud was his spirit, fierce, untamed and free,
Scorning to crouch to pain, from death to flee,
With feelings suited to his savage state,
Faithful alike to friendship or to hate,
Seeking no meed beyond a warrior's fame,
And fearing nought except a coward's shame.
These wilds were his;—amidst his chosen dell,
Where clustering wild-flowers fringed the gushing well,
His hut was rear'd; and there at closing day,
He heard his children's laughter-shout of play,
While, weary with the chase, his limbs were laid
In listless rest beneath the oak-tree's shade.
Then o'er the ocean-sea the white man came,
Held to his lips the cup of liquid flame,
With smooth, false words, and bold encroaching hand,
Wrench'd from the Cherokee his father's land,
Still on his fast receding footsteps prest,
And urged him onward to the distant west,
Till all the precinets of his narrowed ground,
Was closely hemm'd with cultured life around,
And burning cottages and mangled slain,
Had mark'd war's footsteps o'er the ravaged plain.
Wearied, at length, the pale-brow'd stranger swore,
To seek the Indian's hunting grounds no more;
Treaties and oaths the solemn compact seal'd,
And plenty crown'd once more the blood-stain'd field;
Then o'er the red-man's alter'd nature smiled
A kindlier spirit, and a soul more mild;
Bright knowledge pour'd its sunlight o'er his mind,
His feelings soften'd, and his heart refined.
No longer then, when pass'd the storm-flash by,
He saw the lightning of Manitto's eye,
Or listen'd trembling, while his anger spoke,
As high o'er head the pealing thunder broke.
He learn'd to light in heaven his spirit's flame,
And blend a Saviour's with Jehovah's name.
Then tell us, ye, who have the power to save,
Shall all his hopes be crush'd in one wide grave?
Shall lawless force, with rude, remorseless hand,
Drive out the Indian from his father's land,
Burst all the ties that bind the heart to home,
And thrust him forth ‘mid distant wilds to roam?
Oh no! to mercy's pleading voice give ear,
The wak'ning wrath of outraged justice fear,
Stain not with broken faith our country's name,
Nor weigh her tresses to the dust with shame!
Remember yet the solemn pledge you gave,
And lift the potent arm to shield and save!