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VII. The Departure

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

Narrative and Legendary Poems

The Bridal of Pennacook
VII. The Departure

THE WILD March rains had fallen fast and long

The snowy mountains of the North among,

Making each vale a watercourse, each hill

Bright with the cascade of some new-made rill.

Gnawed by the sunbeams, softened by the rain,

Heaved underneath by the swollen current’s strain,

The ice-bridge yielded, and the Merrimac

Bore the huge ruin crashing down its track.

On that strong turbid water, a small boat

Guided by one weak hand was seen to float;

Evil the fate which loosed it from the shore,

Too early voyager with too frail an oar!

Down the vexed centre of that rushing tide,

The thick huge ice-blocks threatening either side,

The foam-white rocks of Amoskeag in view,

With arrowy swiftness sped that light canoe.

The trapper, moistening his moose’s meat

On the wet bank by Uncanoonuc’s feet,

Saw the swift boat flash down the troubled stream;

Slept he, or waked he? was it truth or dream?

The straining eye bent fearfully before,

The small hand clenching on the useless oar,

The bead-wrought blanket trailing o’er the water—

He knew them all—woe for the Sachem’s daughter!

Sick and aweary of her lonely life,

Heedless of peril, the still faithful wife

Had left her mother’s grave, her father’s door,

To seek the wigwam of her chief once more.

Down the white rapids like a sear leaf whirled,

On the sharp rocks and piled-up ices hurled,

Empty and broken, circled the canoe

In the vexed pool below—but where was Weetamoo?