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

Introductory to America

The Indians

By Charles Sprague (1791–1875)

(From Centennial Ode)

WE call them savage. Oh, be just!

Their outraged feelings scan;

A voice comes forth,—’t is from the dust,—

The savage was a man!

Think ye he loved not? Who stood by,

And in his toils took part?

Woman was there to bless his eye,—

The savage had a heart!

Think ye he prayed not? When on high

He heard the thunders roll,

What bade him look beyond the sky?

The savage had a soul!

I venerate the Pilgrim’s cause,

Yet for the red man dare to plead.

We bow to Heaven’s recorded laws;

He turned to Nature for a creed.

Beneath the pillared dome

We seek our God in prayer;

Through boundless woods he loved to roam,

And the Great Spirit worshipped there.

But one, one fellow-throb with us he felt;

To one divinity with us he knelt;

Freedom—the selfsame freedom we adore—

Bade him defend his violated shore.

He saw the cloud, ordained to grow

And burst upon his hills in woe;

He saw his people withering by,

Beneath the invader’s evil eye;

Strange feet were trampling on his fathers’ bones;

At midnight hour he woke to gaze

Upon his happy cabin’s blaze,

And listen to his children’s dying groans.

He saw, and, maddening at the sight,

Gave his bold bosom to the fight;

To tiger-rage his soul was driven;

Mercy was not or sought or given;

The pale man from his lands must fly,—

He would be free or he would die.


Alas for them!—their day is o’er,

Their fires are out from hill and shore;

No more for them the wild deer bounds;

The plough is on their hunting-grounds;

The pale man’s axe rings through their woods;

The pale man’s sail skims o’er their floods;

Their pleasant springs are dry;

Their children,—look! by power oppressed,

Beyond the mountains of the west

Their children go—to die!