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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


By Bret Harte (1836–1902)

[Born in Albany, N. Y. Died in Camberly, England, 1902. Poetical Works. 1870–74.—Works. Riverside Edition. 1882–87.]

COWARD,—of heroic size,

In whose lazy muscles lies

Strength we fear and yet despise;

Savage,—whose relentless tusks

Are content with acorn husks;

Robber,—whose exploits ne’er soared

O’er the bee’s or squirrel’s hoard;

Whiskered chin, and feeble nose,

Claws of steel on baby toes,—

Here, in solitude and shade,

Shambling, shuffling, plantigrade,

Be thy courses undismayed!

Here, where Nature makes thy bed,

Let thy rude, half-human tread

Point to hidden Indian springs,

Lost in ferns and fragrant grasses,

Hovered o’er by timid wings,

Where the wood-duck lightly passes,

Where the wild bee holds her sweets,—

Epicurean retreats,

Fit for thee, and better than

Fearful spoils of dangerous man.

In thy fat-jowled deviltry

Friar Tuck shall live in thee;

Thou mayest levy tithe and dole;

Thou shalt spread the woodland cheer,

From the pilgrim taking toll;

Match thy cunning with his fear;

Eat, and drink, and have thy fill;

Yet remain an outlaw still!