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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Earlier Poems

Burial of the Minnisink

ON sunny slope and beechen swell,

The shadowed light of evening fell;

And, where the maple’s leaf was brown,

With soft and silent lapse came down,

The glory, that the wood receives,

At sunset, in its golden leaves.

Far upward in the mellow light

Rose the blue hills. One cloud of white,

Around a far uplifted cone,

In the warm blush of evening shone;

An image of the silver lakes,

By which the Indian’s soul awakes.

But soon a funeral hymn was heard

Where the soft breath of evening stirred

The tall, gray forest; and a band

Of stern in heart, and strong in hand,

Came winding down beside the wave,

To lay the red chief in his grave.

They sang, that by his native bowers

He stood, in the last moon of flowers,

And thirty snows had not yet shed

Their glory on the warrior’s head;

But, as the summer fruit decays,

So died he in those naked days.

A dark cloak of the roebuck’s skin

Covered the warrior, and within

Its heavy folds the weapons, made

For the hard toils of war, were laid;

The cuirass, woven of plaited reeds,

And the broad belt of shells and beads.

Before, a dark-haired virgin train

Chanted the death dirge of the slain;

Behind, the long procession came

Of hoary men and chiefs of fame,

With heavy hearts, and eyes of grief,

Leading the war-horse of their chief.

Stripped of his proud and martial dress,

Uncurbed, unreined, and riderless,

With darting eye, and nostril spread,

And heavy and impatient tread,

He came; and oft that eye so proud

Asked for his rider in the crowd.

They buried the dark chief; they freed

Beside the grave his battle steed;

And swift an arrow cleaved its way

To his stern heart! One piercing neigh

Arose, and, on the dead man’s plain,

The rider grasps his steed again.