African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Mary Weston Fordham, "The Cherokee" (1897)


‘Twas a cloudless morn and the sun shone bright, 
     And dewdrops sparkled clear; 
And the hills and the vales of this Western land 
     Were wreathed with garlands rare. 
For verdant spring with her emerald robe 
     Had decked the forest trees; 
Whilst e'er and anon the vine-clad boughs 
     Waved in the playful breeze. 

All, all was still, not a sound was heard, 
     Save the music of each tree, 
As gracefully it bent and bowed 
     Its branches o'er the lea. 
But hark! a sound, 'tis the Red man's tread, 
     Breaks on the silent air; 
And a sturdy warrior issues forth, 
     Robed in his native gear. 

And wandering on, he neared the brook; 
     Then sat him down to rest; 
'Twas a noble sight—that warrior free— 
     That Monarch of the West. 
He gazed around. O! a wistful gaze 
     Saddened his upturned brow, 
As he thought of those he'd fondly loved,
     Of those now laid so low. 

He mused aloud “Great Spirit!” list 
     To the Indian's earnest plea; 
And tell me why, from his own loved home, 
     Must the Indian driven be. 
When the "Pale Face" came to our genial clime, 
     We wondered and were glad; 
Then hied us to our chieftain's lodge,
     Our noble “Flying Cloud.” 

We told him all, and he calmly said 
     He'd gladly give them place; 
And if friends they proved, perchance, extend 
     The calumet of peace. 
But soon, alas! the dread truth rang 
     That the Pale Face was our foe; 
For he made our warriors bite the dust—
     Our children lie so low. 

So now, my own, dear, sunny land, 
     Each, woodland and each dell,
Once the Indian's home, now the Indian's grave, 
     I bid a last farewell. 
To the “Great Spirit's" hunting-ground, 
     To meet my long-lost bride,
My "Raven Wing" I gladly hie— 
     He said, then calmly died. 

Published in Magnolia Leaves, 1897

This page has tags: