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V. The New Home

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892). The Poetical Works in Four Volumes. 1892.

Narrative and Legendary Poems

The Bridal of Pennacook
V. The New Home

A WILD and broken landscape, spiked with firs,

Roughening the bleak horizon’s northern edge;

Steep, cavernous hillsides, where black hemlock spurs

And sharp, gray splinters of the wind-swept ledge

Pierced the thin-glazed ice, or bristling rose,

Where the cold rim of the sky sunk down upon the snows.

And eastward cold, wide marshes stretched away,

Dull, dreary flats without a bush or tree,

O’er-crossed by icy creeks, where twice a day

Gurgled the waters of the moon-struck sea;

And faint with distance came the stifled roar,

The melancholy lapse of waves on that low shore.

No cheerful village with its mingling smokes,

No laugh of children wrestling in the snow,

No camp-fire blazing through the hillside oaks,

No fishers kneeling on the ice below;

Yet midst all desolate things of sound and view,

Through the long winter moons smiled dark-eyed Weetamoo.

Her heart had found a home; and freshly all

Its beautiful affections overgrew

Their rugged prop. As o’er some granite wall

Soft vine-leaves open to the moistening dew

And warm bright sun, the love of that young wife

Found on a hard cold breast the dew and warmth of life.

The steep, bleak hills, the melancholy shore,

The long, dead level of the marsh between,

A coloring of unreal beauty wore

Through the soft golden mist of young love seen.

For o’er those hills and from that dreary plain,

Nightly she welcomed home her hunter chief again.

No warmth of heart, no passionate burst of feeling,

Repaid her welcoming smile and parting kiss,

No fond and playful dalliance half concealing,

Under the guise of mirth, its tenderness;

But, in their stead, the warrior’s settled pride,

And vanity’s pleased smile with homage satisfied.

Enough for Weetamoo, that she alone

Sat on his mat and slumbered at his side;

That he whose fame to her young ear had flown

Now looked upon her proudly as his bride;

That he whose name the Mohawk trembling heard

Vouchsafed to her at times a kindly look or word.

For she had learned the maxims of her race,

Which teach the woman to become a slave,

And feel herself the pardonless disgrace

Of love’s fond weakness in the wise and brave,—

The scandal and the shame which they incur,

Who give to woman all which man requires of her.

So passed the winter moons. The sun at last

Broke link by link the frost chain of the rills,

And the warm breathings of the southwest passed

Over the hoar rime of the Saugus hills;

The gray and desolate marsh grew green once more,

And the birch-tree’s tremulous shade fell round the Sachem’s door.

Then from far Pennacook swift runners came,

With gift and greeting for the Saugus chief;

Beseeching him in the great Sachem’s name,

That, with the coming of the flower and leaf,

The song of birds, the warm breeze and the rain,

Young Weetamoo might greet her lonely sire again.

And Winnepurkit called his chiefs together,

And a grave council in his wigwam met,

Solemn and brief in words, considering whether

The rigid rules of forest etiquette

Permitted Weetamoo once more to look

Upon her father’s face and green-banked Pennacook.

With interludes of pipe-smoke and strong water,

The forest sages pondered, and at length,

Concluded in a body to escort her

Up to her father’s home of pride and strength,

Impressing thus on Pennacook a sense

Of Winnepurkit’s power and regal consequence.

So through old woods which Aukeetamit’s hand,

A soft and many-shaded greenness lent,

Over high breezy hills, and meadow land

Yellow with flowers, the wild procession went.

Till, rolling down its wooded banks between,

A broad, clear, mountain stream, the Merrimac was seen.

The hunter leaning on his bow undrawn,

The fisher lounging on the pebbled shores,

Squaws in the clearing dropping the seed-corn,

Young children peering through the wigwam doors,

Saw with delight, surrounded by her train

Of painted Saugus braves, their Weetamoo again.