Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BLACK FOX OF SALMON RIVER, by JOHN GARDINER CALKINS BRAINARD



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THE BLACK FOX OF SALMON RIVER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How cold, how beautiful, how bright
Last Line: Of the black fox of salmon brook.
Subject(s): Foxes


"How cold, how beautiful, how bright,
The cloudless heaven above us shines;
But 't is a howling winter's night--
'T would freeze the very forest pines.
"The winds are up, while mortals sleep;
The stars look forth when eyes are shut;
The bolted snow lies drifted deep
Around our poor and lonely hut.
"With silent step and listening ear,
With bow and arrow, dog, and gun,
We'll mark his track, for his prowl we hear,
Now is our time-- come on, come on."
O'er many a fence, through many a wood,
Following the dog's bewildered scent,
In anxious haste and earnest mood,
The Indian and the white man went.
The gun is cocked, the bow is bent,
The dog stands with uplifted paw,
And ball and arrow swift are sent,
Aimed at the prowler's very jaw.
-- The ball, to kill that fox, is run
Not in a mould by mortals made!
The arrow which that fox should shun,
Was never shaped from earthly reed!
The Indian Druids of the wood
Know where the fatal arrows grow--
They spring not by the summer flood,
They pierce not through the winter snow!
Why cowers the dog, whose snuffing nose
Was never once deceived till now?
And why, amid the chilling snows,
Does either hunter wipe his brow?
For once they see his fearful den,
'T is a dark cloud that slowly moves
By night around the homes of men,
By day -- along the stream it loves.
Again the dog is on his track,
The hunters chase o'er dale and hill,
They may not, though they would, look back,
They must go forward -- forward still.
Onward they go, and never turn,
Spending a night that meets no day;
For them shall never morning sun,
Light them upon their endless way.
The hut is desolate, and there
The famished dog alone returns;
On the cold steps he makes his lair,
By the shut door he lays his bones.
Now the tired sportsman leans his gun
Against the ruins of the site,
And ponders on the hunting done
By the lost wanderers of the night.
And there the little country girls
Will stop to whisper, and listen, and look,
And tell, while dressing their sunny curls,
Of the Black Fox of Salmon Brook.





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