Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Three Mounds

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

Western States: Vincennes, Ind.

The Three Mounds

By Thomas Cogswell Upham (1799–1872)

  • Said by the old French inhabitants of Vincennes to contain the ashes of the savages, who fell in a severe battle fought near the commencement of the last century.

  • WHEN o’er the Wabash setting daylight smiles,

    And gilds, Vincennes, thy distant spire with gold,

    Why turns the pensive eye to yonder piles,

    Why lingers fancy on their hallowed mould?

    The scene is passed, forever fled the day,

    When chiefs, from Mississippi’s monarch tide,

    With Wabash sachems met in war’s array,

    And arm in arm each frantic foeman died.

    Cold is their senseless dust; extinct and gone

    The eye of lightning and the pulse of fire,

    The tongue that cheered the struggling warriors on,

    The arm that sought to conquer or expire.

    In yon three rising mounds their bones repose,

    Together there recline the crumbling dead;

    They rest together, though they once were foes,

    And clasp each other, though they once have bled.

    Imagination loves to trace the scene,

    Ere Europe’s strangers trod this western shore;

    When Nature threw around her brightest green,

    And bade her mountains bloom, her billows roar;

    When naught in all this blooming waste was heard,

    Save huntsman’s loud halloo and whistling spear,

    Save soothing song of evening’s lonely bird,

    And trampling hoofs of flying herds of deer;

    E’en now she views the crimson field of strife,

    The frantic eye, that glared o’er scenes of death,

    The dusky chieftains and the glittering knife,

    The writhing lip, the quick, convulsive breath.

    They fell, but not a thought to heaven arose,

    Nor mute confession of the lips was there;

    They sunk to nature’s last and long repose,

    To earth no lingering look, to heaven no prayer.


    Yon triple mounds that bloom o’er Wabash’ tide

    Instruct the inquiring footstep where they sleep;

    And many a swain shall linger on their side,

    And many a thoughtful eye shall pause and weep.

    For who can view the ashes that remain,

    And think what was, what is, and what must be,

    And yet refuse a tributary strain,

    Nor drop a tear to frail humanity?

    In western wave has sunk the golden day,

    The eagle’s wings his cloudcapt cliff regain,

    The tinkling flocks resume their homeward way,

    And pointed shadows wax along the plain.

    Farewell, Vincennes, and Wabash’ crystal wave,

    The nightly owl has pealed his boding cry;

    Farewell, ye three green tombs, that hold the brave;

    The world itself ’s a tomb, where all shall lie.