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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Middle States: Saratoga, the Lake, N. Y.

Lake Saratoga

By John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887)

An Indian Legend

A LADY stands beside the silver lake.

“What,” said the Mohawk, “wouldst thou have me do?”

“Across the water, sir, be pleased to take

Me and my children in thy bark canoe.”

“Ah!” said the Chief, “thou knowest not, I think,

The legend of the lake,—hast ever heard

That in its wave the stoutest boat will sink,

If any passenger shall speak a word?”

“Full well we know the Indian’s strange belief,”

The lady answered, with a civil smile;

“But take us o’er the water, mighty Chief;

In rigid silence we will sit the while.”

Thus they embarked, but ere the little boat

Was half across the lake, the woman gave

Her tongue its wonted play,—but still they float,

And pass in safety o’er the utmost wave!

Safe on the shore, the warrior looked amazed,

Despite the stoic calmness of his race;

No word he spoke, but long the Indian gazed

In moody silence in the woman’s face.

“What think you now?” the lady gayly said;

“Safely to land your frail canoe is brought!

No harm, you see, has touched a single head!

So superstition ever comes to naught!”

Smiling, the Mohawk said, “Our safety shows

That God is merciful to old and young;

Thanks unto the Great Spirit!—well he knows

The pale-faced woman cannot hold her tongue!”