The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/The Indian Camp
The Indian Camp
I stood amidst its solitude! where erst
The mighty of the desert dwelt, ere yet
The thunder-cloud of desolation burst
In darkness o'er them; ere their sun had set,
And pale-faced strangers from the ocean's strand,
Had look'd with evil eye across their fathers’ land.
When, like the wild-deer of their own dark woods,
They trod with bounding steps its gloomy maze
Fearless and free; or stemm'd the rushing flood
In light canoe; and pausing but to raise
Their whoop of terror, rush'd to distant war,
With breast and brow still mark'd with many a former scar.
Methinks I see them now, as evening came,
Returning homeward from the lengthen'd chase,
The haughty fierceness of their brows grown tame,
And round their necks fond childhood's soft embrace;
While lips of age their simple welcome spoke,
And silent smiles of love in gentle eyes awoke.
But there was left no relic of them there,
Save that tradition told of one lone spot,
Where they had long been sepulchred; it bore
No stone, no monument, that they might not
Be all forgotten; but the forest bough,
In aged strength bent down above each mouldering brow.
The gushing stream beside whose limpid waves
They oft had flung them when the chase was o'er,
Or paused amid its hurrying course to lave
Their thirsty lips, and heated brows, of yore,
Still rushes nigh them with its shining waves,
But pours them only round their silent graves.