Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Our Aborigines

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

Introductory to America

Our Aborigines

By Lydia Huntley Sigourney (1791–1865)

I HEARD the forests as they cried

Unto the valleys green,

“Where is the red-browed hunter race,

Who loved our leafy screen,

Who humbled mid these dewy glades

The red deer’s antlered crown,

Or soaring at his highest noon,

Struck the strong eagle down?”

Then in the zephyr’s voice replied

Those vales, so meekly blest:

“They reared their dwellings on our side,

Their corn upon our breast;

A blight came down, a blast swept by,

The cone-roofed cabins fell;

And where that exiled people fled,

It is not ours to tell.”

Niagara, of the mountains gray,

Demanded, from his throne,

And old Ontario’s billowy lake

Prolonged the thunder tone,

“The chieftains at our side who stood

Upon our christening day,

Who gave the glorious names we bear,

Our sponsors, where are they?”

And then the fair Ohio charged

Her many sisters dear,

“Show me once more those stately forms

Within my mirror clear”;

But they replied, “Tall barks of pride

Do cleave our waters blue,

And strong keels ride our farthest tide,

But where ’s their light canoe?”

The farmer drove his ploughshare deep;

“Whose bones are these?” said he.

“I find them where my browsing sheep

Roam o’er the upland lea.”

But starting sudden to his path,

A phantom seemed to glide,

A plume of feathers on his head,

A quiver at his side.

He pointed to the rifled grave,

Then raised his hand on high,

And with a hollow groan invoked

The vengeance of the sky.

O’er the broad realm so long his own,

Gazed with despairing ray,

Then on the mist that slowly curled,

Fled mournfully away.