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

Birds of Passage

Flight the Fifth. The Revenge of Rain-in-the-Face

IN that desolate land and lone,

Where the Big Horn and Yellowstone

Roar down their mountain path,

By their fires the Sioux Chiefs

Muttered their woes and griefs

And the menace of their wrath.

“Revenge!” cried Rain-in-the-Face,

“Revenge upon all the race

Of the White Chief with yellow hair!

And the mountains dark and high

From their crags reëchoed the cry

Of his anger and despair.

In the meadow, spreading wide

By woodland and river-side

The Indian village stood;

All was silent as a dream,

Save the rushing of the stream

And the blue-jay in the wood.

In his war paint and his beads,

Like a bison among the reeds,

In ambush the Sitting Bull

Lay with three thousand braves

Crouched in the clefts and caves,

Savage, unmerciful!

Into the fatal snare

The White Chief with yellow hair

And his three hundred men

Dashed headlong, sword in hand;

But of that gallant band

Not one returned again.

The sudden darkness of death

Overwhelmed them like the breath

And smoke of a furnace fire:

By the river’s bank, and between

The rocks of the ravine,

They lay in their bloody attire.

But the foemen fled in the night,

And Rain-in-the-Face, in his flight,

Uplifted high in air

As a ghastly trophy, bore

The brave heart, that beat no more,

Of the White Chief with yellow hair.

Whose was the right and the wrong?

Sing it, O funeral song,

With a voice that is full of tears,

And say that our broken faith

Wrought all this ruin and scathe,

In the Year of a Hundred Years.