Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BALLAD OF ORISKANY, by OBADIAH CYRUS AURINGER

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE BALLAD OF ORISKANY, by            
First Line: She leaned her cheek upon her hand
Last Line: "at last, far from oriskany."

SHE leaned her cheek upon her hand,
And looked across the glooming land;
She saw the wood from farm to farm
Touched by the twilight's ghostly charm;
And heard the owl's cry sound forlorn
Across the fields of waving corn,
And sighed with sad voice dreamily: Oriskany! Oriskany!

The moonlight through the open door
Laid its broad square upon the floor;
A beetle plunging through the gloom
Hummed fitfully within the room;
Across the casement's opening
Night creatures sped on purring wing,
And still she murmured musically The fatal name, Oriskany.

She raised her face to the dim night skies,
A dream of peace was in her eyes;
Like memory speaking from the dead
Her voice seemed, as she spoke and said:
" 'T is two years past this very morn
That he came riding through the corn,
With his gay comrades gallantly, To wed me in Oriskany.

"At eve the rooms were all alight,
The bride and bridesmaids clad in white,
As we stood side by side apart,
I trembling, but how blest at heart!
The lights, the flowers, the sparkling eyes,
Were sweet to me as paradise;
The vows like music were to me,
That bound us in Oriskany.

"The feast that flowed mid converse fleet,
The music and the dancing feet,
The games that flew from room to room,
The cries, the laughter, and the bloom,
And in the midst, so fair and tall,
My bridegroom, prince among them all,--
'T was all one glad, sweet dream to me,
That night in gay Oriskany.

"And then the parting groups, the flight,
The voices fading through the night;
The homestead lying dim and lone,
The rooms deserted, lights outblown;
The holy hush wherein befell
The things too wondrous dear to tell --
O sacred fire of love! Ah me--
Oriskany! Oriskany!

"The year went round, there came a guest--
A lovely babe lay on my breast,--
Ah, we were blest! Then came the sound
Of drum and trump the valley round:
'T was just one year ago this morn
That he went armed across the corn,
In strength of heart and patriot glee,
To meet the foe on Oriskany.

"Below the hill the battle broke;
I heard the din, I saw the smoke;
Road-weary bands paused at the door,
And drank, and onward rode once more;
Poor wounded souls came crawling by
To find some quiet place to die;
My heart beat proud but fearfully
That day in wild Oriskany.

"At eve, amid the drip of rain,
They brought me home my soldier slain!
With calm great looks and quiet tread
They came and laid him on my bed --
As fair as life. A bloodless blow
They said had slain him; but his foe
He stabbed ere dying, through and through --
My brave! His country's enemy
He smote on red Oriskany!

"My babe died with the dying year;
Two mounds have I in the churchyard near,
But not a loving voice or form
To keep the earth-flame in me warm;
My dead life to the live world clings,
I feel no joy in natural things,--
Strangely has death mistaken me,
Who died on dark Oriskany.

"All day within the homestead dim
I think of him, I dream of him;
My tasks of hands and feet and soul
Lead true to him as to their goal;
In woman's heart God wrote it thus:
That men should be as gods to us.
I feel the pangs, the weakness see,
Yet worship -- in Oriskany.

"I cannot think of him as dead
Upon our one-year's bridal bed,
Oriskany, Oriskany!
Nor dream of him within the tomb,
Amid the willowed churchyard's gloom,
Oriskany, Oriskany!
I see him as he passed that morn,
Warm with all life, across the corn:
'T is thus he shall return to me
At last, far from Oriskany."

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