Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE HURON'S ADDRESS TO THE DEAD, by ROBERT SOUTHEY



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THE HURON'S ADDRESS TO THE DEAD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Brother, thou wert strong in youth
Last Line: Rest in the bower of delight!
Subject(s): Brothers; Death; Funerals; Iroquois Indians; Native Americans; U.s. - History; War; Half-brothers; Dead, The; Burials; Indians Of America; American Indians; Indians Of South America


BROTHER, thou wert strong in youth!
Brother, thou wert brave in war!
Unhappy man was he
For whom thou hadst sharpened the tomahawk's edge;
Unhappy man was he
On whom thine angry eye was fix'd in fight;
And he who from thy hand
Received the calumet,
Blest heaven, and slept in peace.

When the evil spirits seized thee,
Brother, we were sad at heart:
We bade the Jongler come,
And bring his magic aid;
We circled thee in mystic dance,
With songs and shouts and cries,
To free thee from their power.
Brother, but in vain we strove,
The number of thy days was full.

Thou sittest amongst us on thy mat,
The bear-skin from thy shoulder hangs,
Thy feet are sandal'd, ready for the way.
Those are the unfatiguable feet
That traversed the forest track,
Those are the lips that late
Thundered the yell of war;
And that is the strong right arm
That never was lifted in vain.
Those lips are silent now,
The limbs that were active are stiff,
Loose hangs the strong right arm!

And where is that which in thy voice
The language of friendship spake?
That gave the strength of thine arm?
That fill'd thy limbs with life?
It was not thou, for thou art here,
Thou art amongst us still,
But the life and the feeling are gone.
The Iroquois will learn
That thou hast ceas'd from war,
'Twill be a joy like victory,
For thou wert the scourge of their race.

Brother, we sing thee the song of death,
In thy coffin of bark we lay thee to rest,
The bow shall be placed by thy side,
And the shafts that are pointed and feather'd for flight.
To the country of the dead
Long and painful is thy way!
Over rivers wide and deep
Lies the road that must be past,
By bridges narrow-wall'd,
Where scarce the soul can force its way,
While the loose fabric totters under it.

Safely may our brother pass!
Safely may he reach the fields,
Where the sound of the drum and the shell
Shall be heard from the country of souls!
The spirits of thy sires
Shall come to welcome thee;
The God of the dead in his bower
Shall receive thee and bid thee join
The dance of eternal joy.

Brother, we pay thee the rites of death,
Rest in the bower of delight!





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