Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GERTRUDE OF WYOMING; OR, THE PENNSYLVANIAN COTTAGE: 3, by THOMAS CAMPBELL



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

GERTRUDE OF WYOMING; OR, THE PENNSYLVANIAN COTTAGE: 3, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O love! In such a wilderness as this
Last Line: The death-song of an indian chief!
Subject(s): Massacres; Native Americans - Wars; Wyoming, Pennyslvania


I.

O LOVE! in such a wilderness as this,
Where transport and security entwine,
Here is the empire of thy perfect bliss,
And here thou art a god indeed divine.
Here shall no forms abridge, no hours confine,
The views, the walks, that boundless joy inspire!
Roll on, ye days of raptured influence, shine!
Nor, blind with ecstacy's celestial fire,
Shall love behold the spark of earth-born time expire.

II.

Three little moons, how short! admidst the grove
And pastoral savannas they consume!
While she, beside her buskined youth to rove,
Delights, in fancifully wild costume,
Her lovely brow to shade with Indian plume;
And forth in hunter-seeming vest they fare;
But not to chase the deer in forest gloom,
'Tis but the breath of heaven -- the blessed air --
And interchange of hearts unknown, unseen to share.

III.

What though the sportive dog oft round them note,
Or fawn, or wild bird bursting on the wing;
Yet who, in love's own presence, would devote
To death those gentle throats that wake the spring,
Or writhing from the brook its victim bring?
No! -- nor let fear one little warbler rouse;
But, fed by Gertrude's hand, still let them sing,
Acquaintance of her path, amidst the boughs,
That shade ev'n now her love, and witnessed first her vows.

IV.

Now labyrinths, which but themselves can pierce,
Methinks, conduct them to some pleasant ground,
Where welcome hills shut out the universe,
And pines their lawny walk encompass round;
There, if a pause delicious converse found,
'Twas but when o'er each heart th' idea stole,
(Perchance awhile in joy's oblivion drowned)
That come what may, while life's glad pulses roll,
Indissolubly thus should soul be knit to soul.

V.

And in the visions of romantic youth,
What years of endless bliss are yet to flow!
But mortal pleasure, what art thou in truth?
The torrent's smoothness, ere it dash below!
And must I change my song? and must I show,
Sweet Wyoming! the day when thou wert doomed,
Guiltless, to mourn thy loveliest bowers laid low!
When where of yesterday a garden bloomed,
Death overspread his pall, and blackening ashes gloomed!

VI.

Sad was the year, by proud oppression driven,
When Transatlantic Liberty arose,
Mot in the sunshine and the smile of heaven,
But wrapt in whirlwinds, and begirt with woes,
Amidst the strife of fratricidal foes;
Her birth star was the light of burning plains;
Her baptism is the weight of blood that flows
From kindred hearts -- the blood of British veins --
And famine tracks her steps, and pestilential pains.

VII.

Yet, ere the storm of death had raged remote,
Or siege unseen in heaven reflects its beams,
Who now each dreadful circumstance shall note,
That fills pale Gertrude's thoughts and nightly dreams?
Dismal to her the forge of battle gleams
Portentous light! and music's voice is dumb;
Save where the fife its shrill reveille screams,
Or midnight streets reecho to the drum,
That speaks of maddening strife, and blood-stained fields to come.

VIII.

It was, in truth, a momentary pang;
Yet how comprising myriad shapes of wo!
First when in Gertrude's ear the summons rang,
A husband to the battle doomed to go!
"Nay, meet not thou," she cries, "thy kindred foe!
But peaceful let us seek fair England's strand!"
"Ah, Gertrude, thy beloved heart, I know,
Would feel like mine the stigmatizing brand!
Could I forsake the cause of Freedom's holy band!

IX.

"But shame -- but flight -- a recreant's name to prove,
To hide in exile ignominious fears;
Say, ev'n if this I brooked, the public love
Thy father's bosom to his home endears:
And how could I his few remaining years,
My Gertrude, sever from so dear a child?"
So, day by day, her boding heart he cheers:
At last that heart to hope is half beguiled,
And, pale through tears suppressed, the mournful beauty smiled.

X.

Night came, -- and in their lighted bower, full late
The joy of converse had endured -- when, hark!
Abrupt and loud, a summons shook their gate;
And heedless of the dog's obstrep'rous bark,
A form had rushed amidst them from the dark,
And spread his arms, -- and fell upon the floor:
Of aged strength his limbs retained the mark;
But desolate he looked, and famished poor,
As ever shipwrecked wretch lone left on desert shore.

XI.

Uprisen, each wondering brow is knit and arched;
A spirit from the dead they deem him first:
To speak he tries; but quivering, pale, and parched,
From lips, as by some powerless dream accursed,
Emotions unintelligible burst;
And long his filmed eye is red and dim:
At length the pity-proffered cup his thirst
Had half assuaged, and nerved his shuddering limb,
When Albert's hand he grasped -- but Albert knew not him: --

XII.

"And hast thou then forgot," he cried forlorn,
And eyed the group with half indignant air --
"Oh! hast thou, Christian chief, forgot the morn
When I with thee the cup of peace did share?
Then stately was this head, and dark this hair,
That now is white as Appalachia's snow;
But, if the weight of fifteen years' despair,
And age hath bowed me, and the torturing foe.
Bring me my boy! -- and he will his deliverer know!"

XIII.

It was not long, with eyes and heart of flame,
Ere Henry to his loved Oneida flew:
"Bless thee, my guide!" -- but backward, as he came,
The chief his old bewildered head withdrew,
And grasped his arm, and looked and looked him through.
'Twas strange -- nor could the group a smile control,
The long, the doubtful scrutiny to view:
At last delight o'er all his features stole, --
"It is -- my own," he cried, and clasped him to his soul

XIV.

"Yes! thou recall'st my pride of years, for then
The bowstring of my spirit was not slack,
When, spite of woods, and floods, and ambushed men,
I bore thee like the quiver on my back,
Fleet as the whirlwind hurries on the rack;
Nor foeman then, nor cougar's crouch I feared,
For I was strong as mountain cataract:
And dost thou not remember how we cheered,
Upon the last hill-top, when white men's huts appeared?

XV.

"Then welcome be my death-song, and my death!
Since I have seen thee, and again embraced."
And longer had he spent his toil-worn breath;
But with affectionate and eager haste,
Was every arm outstretched around their guest,
To welcome and to bless his aged head.
Soon was the hospitable banquet placed;
And Gertrude's lovely hands a balsam shed
On wounds with fevered joy that more profusely bled.

XVI.

"But this is not a time," -- he started up,
And smote his breast with wo-denouncing hand --
"This is no time to fill the joyous cup!
The Mammoth comes -- the foe -- the Monster Brandt!
With all his howling desolating band;
These eyes have seen their blade and burning pine
Awake at once, and silence half your land.
Red is the cup they drink; but not with wine:
Awake, and watch to-night, or see no morning shine!

XVII.

"Scorning to wield the hatchet for his bribe,
'Gainst Brandt himself I went to battle forth:
Accursed Brandt! he left of all my tribe
Nor man, nor child, nor thing of living birth:
No! not the dog that watched my household hearth,
Escaped that night of blood, upon our plains!
All perished! -- I alone am left on earth!
To whom nor relative nor blood remains,
No! -- not a kindred drop that runs in human veins.

XVIII.

"But go! -- and rouse your warriors; -- for, if right
These old bewildered eyes could guess, by signs
Of striped and starred banners, on yon height
Of eastern cedars, o'er the creek of pines --
Some fort embattled by your country shines:
Deep roars the innavigable gulf below
Its squared rock, and palisaded lines.
Go! seek the light its warlike beacons show;
Whilst I in ambush wait, for vengeance, and the foe!"

XIX.

Scarce had he uttered -- when Heaven's verge extreme
Reverberates the bomb's descending star, --
And sounds that mingled laugh, -- and shout, -- and
To freeze the blood in one discordant jar, [scream, --
Rung to the pealing thunderbolts of war.
Whoop after whoop with rack the ear assailed;
As if unearthly fiends had burst their bar;
While rapidly the marksman's shot prevailed: --
And aye, as if for death, some lonely trumpet wailed.

XX.

Then looked they to the hills, where fire o'erhung
The bandit groups, in one Vesuvian glare;
Or swept, far seen, the tower, whose clock unrung
Told legible that midnight of despair.
She faints, -- she falters not, -- the heroic fair, --
As he the sword and plume in haste arrayed.
One short embrace -- he clasped his dearest care --
But hark! what nearer war-drum shakes the glade?
Joy, joy! Columbia's friends are trampling through the shade!

XXI.

Then came of every race the mingled swarm,
Far rung the groves and gleamed the midnight grass,
With flambeau, javelin, and naked arm;
As warriors wheeled their culverins of brass,
Sprung from the woods, a bold athletic mass,
Whom virtue fires, and liberty combines:
And first the wild Moravian yagers pass,
His plumed host the dark Iberian joins --
And Scotia's sword beneath the Highland thistle shines.

XXII.

And in, the buskined hunters of the deer,
To Albert's home, with shout and cymbal throng: --
Roused by their warlike pomp, and mirth, and cheer,
Old Outalissi woke his battle song,
And, beating with his war-club cadence strong,
Tells how his deep-stung indignation smarts,
Of them that wrapt his house in flames, ere long,
To whet a dagger on their stony hearts,
And smile avenged ere yet his eagle spirit parts. --

XXIII.

Calm, opposite the Christian father rose,
Pale on his venerable brow its rays
Of martyr light the conflagration throws;
One hand upon his lovely child he lays,
And one the uncovered crowd to silence sways;
While, though the battle flash is faster driven, --
Unawed, with eye unstartled by the blaze,
He for his bleeding country prays to Heaven, --
Prays that the men of blood themselves may be forgiven.

XXIV.

Short time is now for gratulating speech:
And yet, beloved Gertrude, ere began
Thy country's flight, yon distant towers to reach,
Looked not on thee the rudest partisan
With brow relaxed to love? And murmurs ran,
As round and round their willing ranks they drew,
From beauty's sight to shield the hostile van.
Grateful, on them a placid look she threw,
Nor wept, but as she bade her mother's grave adieu!

XXV.

Past was the flight, and welcome seemed the tower,
That like a giant standard-bearer frowned
Defiance on the roving Indian power,
Beneath, each bold and promontory mound
With embrasure embossed, and armor crowned,
And arrowy frize, and wedged ravelin,
Wove like a diadem its tracery round
The lofty summit of that mountain green;
Here stood secure the group, and eyed a distant scene, -

XXVI.

A scene of death! where fires beneath the sun,
And blended arms, and white pavilions glow;
And for the business of destruction done.
Its requiem the war-horn seemed to blow:
There, sad spectatress of her country's wo!
The lovely Gertrude, safe from present harm,
Had laid her cheek, and clasped her hands of snow
On Waldegrave's shoulder, half within his arm
Enclosed, that felt her heart, and hushed its wild alarm!

XXVII.

But short that contemplation -- sad and short
The pause to bid each much-loved scene adieu!
Beneath the very shadow of the fort,
Where friendly swords were drawn, and banners flew;
Ah! who could deem that foot of Indian crew
Was near! -- yet there, with lust of murderous deeds,
Gleamed like a basilisk, from woods in view,
The ambushed foeman's eye -- his volley speeds,
And Albert -- Albert falls! the dear old father bleeds!

XXVIII.

And tranced in giddy horror Gertrude swooned;
Yet, while she clasps him lifeless to her zone,
Say, burst they, borrowed from her father's wound,
These drops? -- Oh, God! the life-blood is her own!
And faltering, on her Waldegrave's bosom thrown --
"Weep not, O Love!" -- she cries, "to see me bleed --
Thee, Getrude's sad survivor, thee alone
Heaven's peace commiserate; for scarce I heed
These wounds; -- yet thee to leave is death, is death indeed!

XXIX.

"Clasp me a little longer on the brink
Of fate! while I can feel thy dear caress;
And when this heart hath ceased to beat -- oh! think,
And let it mitigate thy wo's excess,
That thou hast been to me all tenderness,
And friend to more than human friendship just.
Oh! by that retrospect of happiness,
And by the hopes of an immortal trust,
God shall assuage thy pangs -- when I am laid in dust!

XXX.

"Go, Henry, go not back, when I depart,
The scene thy bursting tears too deep will move,
Where my dear father took thee to his heart,
And Gertrude thought it ecstasy to rove
With thee, as with an angel, through the grove
Of peace, imagining her lot was cast
In heaven; for ours was not like earthly love
And must this parting be our very last?
No! I shall love thee still, when death itself is past. --

XXXI.

Half could I bear, methinks, to leave this earth, --
And thee, more loved than aught beneath the sun,
If I had lived to smile but on the birth
Of one dear pledge; -- but shall there then be none
In future times -- no gentle little one,
To clasp thy neck, and look, resembling me?
Yet seems it, ev'n while life's last pulses run
A sweetness in the cup of death to be,
Lord of my bosom's love! to die beholding thee!"

XXXII.

Hushed were his Gertrude's lips! but still their bland
And beautiful expression seemed to melt
With love that could not die! and still his hand
She presses to the heart no more that felt.
Ah, heart! where once each fond affection dwelt,
And features yet that spoke a soul more fair.
Mute, gazing, agonizing as he knelt, --
Of them that stood encircling his despair,
He heard some friendly words; -- but knew not what they were.

XXXIII.

For now, to mourn their judge and child, arrives
A faithful band. With solemn rites between
'Twas sung how they were lovely in their lives,
And in their deaths had not divided been.
Touched by the music, and the melting scene,
Was scarce one tearless eye amidst the crowd. --
Stern warriors, resting on their swords, were seen
To veil their eyes, as passed each much-loved shroud
While woman's softer soul in wo dissolved aloud.

XXXIV.

Then mournfully the parting bugle bid
Its farewell, o'er the grave of worth and truth;
Prone to the dust, afflicted Waldegrave hid
His face on earth; -- him watched, in gloomy ruth,
His woodland guide: but words had none to soothe
The grief that knew not consolation's name:
Casting his Indian mantle o'er the youth,
He watched, beneath its folds, each burst that came
Convulsive, ague-like, across his shuddering frame!

XXXV.

"And I could weep" -- th' Oneida chief
His descant wildly thus begun:
"But that I may not stain with grief
The death-song of my father's son,
Or bow this head in wo!
For by my wrongs, and by my wrath!
To-morrow Areouski's breath,
(That fires yon heaven with storms of death,)
Shall light us to the foe:
And we shall share, my Christian boy!
The foeman's blood, the avenger's joy!

XXXVI.

"But thee, my flower, whose breath was given
By milder genii o'er the deep,
The spirits of the white man's heaven
Forbid not thee to weep:
Nor will the Christian host,
Nor will thy father's spirit grieve,
To see thee, on the battle's eve,
Lamenting, take a mournful leave
Of her who loved thee most:
She was the rainbow to thy sight!
Thy sun -- thy heaven -- of lost delight!

XXXVII.

"To-morrow let us do or die!
But when the bolt of death is hurled,
Ah! whither then with thee to fly,
Shall Outalissi roam the world?
Seek we thy once-loved home?
The hand is gone that cropped its flowers!
Unheard their clock repeats its hours!
Cold is the hearth within their bowers!
And should we thither roam,
Its echoes, and its empty tread,
Would sound like voices from the dead!

XXXVIII.

"Or shall we cross yon mountains blue,
Whose streams my kindred nation quaffed,
And by my side, in battle true,
A thousand warriors drew the shaft?
Ah! there, in desolation cold,
The desert serpent dwells alone,
Where grass o'ergrows each mouldering bone,
And stones themselves to ruin grown,
Like me, are death-like old.
Then seek we not their camp, -- for there
The silence dwells of my despair!

XXXIX.

"But hark, the trump! -- to-morrow thou
In glory's fires shalt dry thy tears:
Ev'n from the land of shadows now
My father's awful ghost appears,
Amidst the clouds that round us roll;
He bids my soul for battle thirst --
He bids me dry the last -- the first --
The only tears that ever burst
From Outalissi's soul;
Because I may not stain with grief
The death-song of an Indian chief!





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