Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, INDIAN GIRL'S BURIAL, by LYDIA HUNTLEY SIGOURNEY



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INDIAN GIRL'S BURIAL, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: A voice upon the prairies
Last Line: As here they mourn for thee.
Subject(s): Funerals; Native Americans; Tuberculosis; Burials; Indians Of America; American Indians; Indians Of South America; Consumption (pathology)


"In the vicinity of Montrose, Wisconsin Territory, the only
daughter of an Indian woman of the Sac tribe, died of lingering
consumption, at the age of eighteen. A few of her own race, and
a few of the pale-faces were at the grave, but none wept, save the
poor mother." -- HERALD OF THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI.

A VOICE upon the prairies
A cry of woman's woe,
That mingleth with the autumn blast
All fitfully and low;
It is a mother's wailing;
Hath earth another tone
Like that with which a mother mourns
Her lost, her only one?

Pale faces gather round her,
They mark'd the storm swell high
That rends and wrecks the tossing soul,
But their cold, blue eyes are dry.
Pale faces gaze upon her,
As the wild winds caught her moan,
But she was an Indian mother,
So she wept her tears alone.

Long o'er that wasted idol,
She watch'd, and toil'd, and pray'd,
Though every dreary dawn reveal'd
Some ravage Death had made,
Till the fleshless sinews started,
And hope no opiate gave,
And hoarse, and hollow grew her voice,
An echo from the grave.

She was a gentle creature,
Of raven eye and tress,
And dove-like were the tones that breath'd
Her bosom's tenderness,
Save when some quick emotion,
The warm blood strongly sent,
To revel in her olive-cheek
So richly eloquent.

I said Consumption smote her,
And the healer's art was vain,
But she was an Indian maiden,
So none deplor'd her pain;
None, save that widow'd mother,
Who now by her open tomb,
Is writhing like the smitten wretch
Whom judgment marks for doom.

Alas! that lowly cabin,
That bed beside the wall,
That seat beneath the mantling vine,
They're lone and empty all.
What hand shall pluck the tall, green corn
That ripeneth on the plain?
Since she for whom the board was spread
Must ne'er return again.

Rest, rest, thou Indian maiden,
Nor let thy murmuring shade
Grieve that those pale-brow'd ones with scorn
Thy burial rite survey'd;
There's many a king whose funeral
A black-rob'd realm shall see,
For whom no tear of grief is shed
Like that which falls for thee.

Yea, rest thee, forest maiden!
Beneath thy native tree;
The proud may boast their little day
Then sink to dust like thee:
But there's many a one whose funeral
With nodding plumes may be,
Whom nature nor affection mourn,
As here they mourn for thee.





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