This Internet edition of Morton's epic is based on the 1790 Boston edition of L. Thomas and E. T. Andrews.
This page is part of a larger effort at reclaiming and making available the many lost and unremembered epic poems by women, and is provided for educational and research purposes by Jeremy M. Downes, Department of English, Auburn University. Editing and commentary copyright © 2010. Suggestions and responses are welcomed.
SIR, THE veneration, which your literary and public character demands, and the esteem, which your private and domestic virtues universally receive, are a sufficient apology for the freedom, I now take in laying the following production, which is wholly American, at your feet; convinced, while from your judgment and taste I have much to apprehend, from your candor and benevolence I have every thing to hope.
I have the honor to be, with every sentiment of respect and esteem, Sir, Your very obliged and Humble Servant,
From an idea of being original in my subject, I was induced to undertake the following Tale. The manners and customs of the Aborigines of North America are so limited and simple, that they have scarcely engaged the attention either of the Philosopher or the Poet. Acquainted with some of their interesting ceremonies from tradition, I became desirous of gaining further intelligence, and gratefully acknowledge myself indebted to the obliging communications of General Lincoln, for most of the local rites and customs alluded to, where I have not quoted any other authority. The opportunity his public commission, in the late negociations between the United States and the Southern Indians, has afforded him to acquire the best information, added to the respectability of his character, will render his authority unquestioned.
As my principal design in attempting the Poem was to amuse my retired hours, and to gratify a few amiable friends, it is alone in compliance with the solicitations of those friends, that I have been prevailed upon to expose it to the public eye; but I am led to presume that, deficient as the Poetry really is, it will convey some information, from the collection of many particulars which are not generally known.
The grades of human nature, and the various propensities and avocations of mankind, in their different states and societies, must always be greatly interesting to the view of the philosopher; and even the most trifling production may become useful, if it serves to throw light on so important a subject. It may perhaps be objected, that I have given my favourite Ouâbi, a degree of insensibility, with respect to the love of Celario, incompatible with the greatness and superiority of his character: To this I reply, that the mind, unpracticed in deception, can never be capable of suspicion; and that not having known the European vices, he could have no idea of their existence.
It may also be imagined, that, considering the exalted virtue and resolution of Azâkia, which could lead her even to death for the man, to whom she was contracted, her ready compliance with the proposition of Ouâbi, and the joy she evinces on that occasion, form an unpardonable contradiction; but it must be remembered, that from the customs and laws of every country its manners and morals are derived. Azâkia, bound to her husband by every tie, would not deceive him; but when he expressed a wish to resign her, she could have no idea of his insincerity; so much is truth the characteristic of a state of nature: It then became a duty, a virtue, to pursue the first wish of her heart.
I am aware it may be considered improbable, that an amiable and polished European should attach himself to the persons and manners of an uncivilized people; but there is now a living instance of a like propensity. A gentleman of fortune, born in America, and educated in all the refinements and luxuries of Great Britain, has lately attached himself to a female savage, in whom he finds every charm I have given my Azâkia; and in consequence of his inclination, has relinquished his own country and connections, incorporated himself into the society, and adopted the manners of the virtuous, though uncultivated Indian.
Many of the outlines of the Fable are taken from a prose story in Mr. Carey's entertaining and instructing Museum; but as the opening scene of that narrative was rather deficient in decency, and the conclusion, in my opinion, very little interesting, I have entirely changed it in those respects, and have introduced a variety of customs, the description of battles, and many other circumstances, which appeared essential to poetry, and necessary to the plot; still I acknowledge myself indebted to that production for many of the events, and for the names of the characters.
Should any be induced to think that I have given too many perfections to a rude uncultivated savage, let them read the following apostrophe by a celebrated French author.
I glanced my eye rapidly over the scene, and in a vast country, to us hitherto unknown, I saw a naked Indian, having nothing but God and nature above him, enjoying the benefits which offer, without analysing them. His body was supple and robust, his eye lively and piercing, his ear attentive, in his deportment a certain air of haughtiness, of which we have no kind of idea in our degenerate climate. He seems even more graceful and majestic when beside his female companion, his eye is milder, his countenance more serene.
But the authority by which I have been influenced, and from which I feel myself justified, is William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, whose manners and principles could not admit of exaggeration, or extravagancy of expression. In his letters to his friends in England, he describes the North-American Indians in the following terms.
For their persons they are generally tall, straight, well built, and of singular proportion: they tread strong and clever, and mostly walk with a lofty chin: the thick lip and flat nose, so frequent with the East-Indians and blacks, are not common with them; for I have seen as comely, European-like faces among them of both sexes, as on your side the sea. And truly an Italian complexion hath not much more of the white, and the noses of several have as much of the Roman.
They are great concealers of their own resentment, but in liberality they excel; nothing is too good for their friend. Their government is by kings; every king has his council, and that consists of all the old and wise men of his nation; nothing of moment is undertaken without advising with them, and what is more, with the young men too. It is admirable to consider how powerful their kings are, and yet how they move by the breath of the people. I have had occasion to be in council with them; while any one spoke, not a man of them was observed to whisper or smile, the old grave, the young reverend, in their deportment; they speak little, but fervently, and with elegance; I have never seen more natural sagacity, considering them without the help (I was going to say the spoil) of tradition.
Sanctioned by such authorities I flatter myself, allowing for the justifiable embellishments of poetry, that I shall not be considered an enthusiast in my descriptions. The liberal reader will, I trust, make many allowances for the various imperfections of the work, from a consideration of my sex and situation; the one by education incident to weakness, the other from duty devoted to domestic avocations. And I am induced to hope, that the attempting a subject wholly American will in some respect entitle me to the partial eye of the patriot; that, as a young author, I shall be received with tenderness, and, as an involuntary one, be criticised with candor.
'Tis not the court, in dazzling splendor gay,
Where soft luxuriance spreads her silken arms,
Where garish fancy leads the soul astray,
And languid nature mourns her slighted charms:
'Tis not the golden hill, not flow'ry dale, 5
Which lends my simple muse her artless theme;
But the black forest and uncultur'd vale,
The savage warrior, and the lonely stream.
Where Missisippi rolls his parent stood
With slope impetuous to the surgy main, 10
The desert's painted chiefs explore the wood,
Or with the thund'ring war-whoop shake the plain.
There the fierce sachems raise the battle's din,
Or in the stream their active bodies lave,
Or midst the flames their fearless songs begin— 15
Pain has no terrors to the truly brave.
There young CELARIO, Europe's fairest boast,
In hopeless exile mourn'd the tedious day;
Now wand'ring slowly o'er the oozy coast,
Now thro the wild woods urg'd his anxious way. 20
Where the low stooping branch excludes the light,
A piercing shriek assail'd his wounded ear;
Swift as the winged arrow speeds its flight,
He seeks the piteous harbinger of fear.
There a tall Huron rais'd his threat'ning arm, 25
While round his knees a beauteous captive clung,
Striving to move him with her matchless form,
Or charm him by the magic of her tongue.
Soon as Celario view'd the murd'rous scene,
Quick from his vest the deathful tube he drew; 30
Its leaden vengeance thunder'd o'er the green,
While from the savage hand the ling'ring hatchet flew.
Low at his feet the breathless warrior lies;
Still the soft captive sickens with alarms,
Calls on OUÂBI's name with streaming eyes, 35
While the young victor lives upon her charms.
Her limbs were straighter than the mountain pine,
Her hair far blacker than the raven's wing;
Beauty had lent her form the waving line,
Her breath gave fragrance to the balmy spring. 40
Each bright perfection open'd on her face,
Her flowing garment wanton'd in the breeze,
Her slender feet the glitt'ring sandals grace,
Her look was dignity, her movement ease.
With splendid beads her braided tresses shone, 45
Her bending waist a modest girdle bound,
Her pearly teeth outvi'd the cygnet's down—
She spoke—and music follow'd in the sound.
Great ruler of the winged hour,
AZÂKIA trembles at thy pow'r; 50
While from thy hand the thunders roll,
Thy charms with lightnings pierce the soul:
Ah! how unlike our sable race,
The snowy lustre of thy face!
That hair of beaming Cynthia's hue, 55
Those shining eyes of heav'nly blue!
Ah! didst thou leave thy blissful land,
To save me from the murd'rer's hand!
And is Ouâbi still thy care,
The dauntless chief, unknown to fear? 60
Cease to call Ouâbi 's name,
Give Celario all his claim.
No divinity is here:
Spare thy praises, quit thy fear:
Bend no more that beauteous knee, 65
For I am a slave to thee:
Let my griefs thy pity move,
Heal them with the balm of love.
Far beyond the orient main,
By my rage a youth was slain; 70
He this daring arm defied,
By this arm the ruffian died:
Exil'd from my native home,
Thro the desert wild I roam;
But if only blest by thee, 75
All the desert smiles on me.
See a graceful form arise!
Now it fills my ravish'd eyes,
Brighter than the morning star,
'Tis Ouâbi, fam'd in war: 80
Close before my bosom spread,
O'er thy presence casts a shade,
Full on him these eyes recline,
And his person shuts out thine.
Let us to his home retire, 85
Where he lights the social fire:
Do not thro the desert roam,
Find with me his gen'rous home;
There the Illinois obey
Great Ouâbi 's chosen sway. 90
Aw'd by her virtue, by her charms subdued,
Celario follows o'er the wid'ning plains,
Nor dares his hopeless passion to intrude,
Where constant truth, and blest Ouâbi reigns.
Now distant flames assail his dazzled eyes, 95
High as the clouds the curling spires ascend,
While warlike youths in circling orders
And midst the green with graceful silence bend.
Far o'er the chieftains great Ouâbi moves,
With step majestic thro the boundless plain; 100
Thus tow'rs the cedar o'er the willow-groves,
Thus shines bright Cynthia midst her starry train.
Swift to his arms the fond Azâkia flies,
And oft repeats the fear-embellish'd tale;
How pointed lightnings pierc'd her wond'ring eyes, 105
While the near thunder broke the trembling gale!
Ouâbi! form'd by nature's hand divine,
Whose naked limbs the sculptor's art defied,
Whose nervous strength and graceful charms combine,
Where dignity with fleetness was allied. 110
High from his head the painted plumes arose,
His sounding bow was o'er his shoulder flung,
The hatchet, dreadful to insulting foes,
On the low branch in peaceful caution hung.
Adown his ears the glist'ning rings descend, 115
His manly arms the clasping bracelets bind,
From his broad chest the vari'd beads depend,
And all the hero tow'r'd within his mind.
His hand he yielded to the gentle youth,
Inquir'd his sorrows with benignant air, 120
And, kind as pity, unreserv'd as truth,
Sooth'd ev'ry grief, and proffer'd ev'ry care.
When young Celario, breathing many a sigh,
Disclos'd the warring tumults of his breast,
Low on the ground reclin'd his pensive eye, 125
While his persuasive voice the chief address'd.
On these far-extended plains,
Truth and godlike justice reigns!
In my childhood's happy prime,
A warrior from this western clime, 130
Oft the fleeting day improv'd,
Talking of the home he lov'd,
All thy glowing worth imprest
On my young enamour'd breast.
Banish'd from my native shore, 135
Here I turn'd the ready oar.
Tir'd of scenes, where crimes beguile,
Fond of virtue's honest smile,
From perfidious vice I flee,
And devote my life to thee. 140
Shelter'd in thy social cot,
All the glare of wealth forgot,
Let the hatchet grace my hand,
Let me bend to thy command:
May Celario claim thy care, 145
Lead him thro the din of war,
Think not of his early age,
Try him midst the battle's rage.
May the endless Source of Good,
Parent of yon rapid flood, 150
Strike me with the pangs of fear,
Midst the glories of the war,
If Ouâbi does not prove
All a brother's tender love;
If his body cease to be, 155
Still a sure defence to thee;
If his life-destroying bow
Does not seek thy treach'rous foe.
Then amidst yon chiefs retire,
Seated round the sacred fire, 160
Waiting for the warrior-feast,
Let them hail thee as their guest:
Music reigns with soft control,
Sable bev'rage fires the soul.
Here yon rising orb of flame 165
Finds each rolling hour the same;
And the star of ev'ning glows
On each bliss, that nature knows.
Say what crimes thy realms disgrace?
Do the natives shun the chase? 170
Do they fear to bend the bow?
Do they dread the threat'ning foe?
Yet, if courage dwells with thee,
Join the Huron war with me.
Oft the active chase they dare, 175
Oft they join the glorious war,
'Tis at home their vices grow,
There they yield to ev'ry foe;
There unnumber'd demons reign,
Led by TERROR, GUILT and PAIN; 180
Rash REVENGE, with eye-balls rolling,
Hateful MALICE, always scowling,
Base DUPLICITY deceiving,
Cruel SLANDER, still believing,
Insolence to wealth allied, 185
Rude, unfeeling, trampling PRIDE,
Prudish ENVY'S ready sneer,
Base NEGLECT and dastard FEAR,
Jealousy with bitter sigh,
Low SUSPICION'S jaundiced eye, 190
Lying FRAUD, with treach'rous smile,
Hard REPROACH, and MEANNESS vile,
Affectation's sick'ning form,
Passion, always in a storm;
These are foes I leave behind, 195
These the TRAITORS of the mind,
Dreadful as the battle's roar,
Fearful as the conq'ror's pow'r.
Now for the war-feast all the chiefs prepare,
The jetty draught exhausts the gen'rous bowl, 200
And the fierce dance, fit emblem of the war,
Swells the great mind, and fires the kindling soul.
Tho songs of vengeance ev'ry breast inspire,
The peaceful calumet succeeds the feast,
Till livid glimmerings mark the sinking fire, 205
And the gem'd skies proclaim the hour of rest.
Ere the first blush of day illumes the morn,
The chiefs, impatient for the battle, rise;
With warlike arms their colour'd limbs adorn,
While glowing valour sparkles in their eyes. 210
Onward they move, by great Ouâbi led,
The young Celario with the painted train,
Like white narcissus mid the tulip-bed,
Or like a swan with peacocks on the plain.
The golden ringlets of his glossy hair, 215
Intwin'd with beads, the tow'ring feathers grace,
No longer floating to the am'rous air,
Nor mingling with the beauties of his face.
Dress'd like a sachem—o'er his naked arm
With careless ease reclin'd his gaudy bow, 220
Not bright Apollo boasts so fair a form,
Such ringlets never grac'd his iv'ry brow.
On the far field the adverse heroes join,
No dread artill'ry guards the coward side;
But dauntless strength, and courage half divine, 225
Command the war, and form the conq'ror's pride.
Thus before Illion's heav'n-defended tow'rs,
Her godlike Hector rais'd his crimson'd arm;
Thus great Atrides led the Grecian pow'rs,
And stern Achilles spread the loud alarm. 230
Where danger threats the European flies,
Eager to follow when Ouâbi leads,
His feather'd arrows glance along the skies,
And many a hero, many a sachem bleeds.
Now the strong hatchet hews whole nations down, 235
Now deathful show'rs of missive darts descend,
The echoing war-whoop drowns the dying groan,
And shouts of vict'ry ev'ry bosom rend.
When by some hand's unerring force applied,
Flew a swift arrow where Celario stood, 240
Its darting vengeance pierc'd his guardless side,
And drank the living current of his blood.
While from the wound the barbed shaft is drawn,
O'er his fair side the drops of crimson glow,
And seem lost rubies on a wint'ry lawn, 245
Adding new lustre to the silv'ry snow.
The Illinois their great Ouâbi hail,
No more the foe his conq'ring arm defies;
O'er the blue mountain, thro the thorny vale,
The victor follows, as the vanquish'd flies. 250
Fatigu'd by slaughter, ev'ry chief retires
To the lov'd solace of his native plain,
There still regardful of the sacred fires,
Till the loud war awakes his strength again.
By slaves supported thro the mazy wood, 255
Celario gains the sachem's distant home,
Where mourning warriors stop the purple flood,
And for each healing plant the weedy desert roam.
Azâkia's hand the chymic juice applies,
Her constant aid the strength'ning food prepares, 260
Her plaintive voice beguiles his closing eyes,
And sooths his slumbers with unceasing prayers.
Now winds his ringlets round her dusky hand,
And views the contrast with enamour'd boast,
Now o'er his features bends with accents bland, 265
'Till ev'ry swimming sense in wonder's lost.
Thus the lorn wretch, by ignis fatuus led,
Pursues the gleam which charms his lonely way,
Nor, 'till destruction whelms his hapless head,
Suspects the dangers of the treach'rous ray. 270
Celario gazes with renew'd desires,
While kindling hopes his doting bosom move;
Yet still Ouâbi's worth his soul inspires,
And much his virtue struggles with his love.
Now each new day increasing strength bestows, 275
And his brac'd limbs the limping staff resign,
His humid lip with roseate lustre glows,
His lucid eyes with wonted brightness shine.
What time red Sirius sheds his baneful pow'r,
And fades the verdant beauties of the grove;
When thirsty plants droop for the cooling show'r,
And not a leaf the sleeping zephyrs move,
Azâkia wander'd from her sultry home, 5
Amid the stream her languid limbs to lave,
Now on the sedgy banks delights to roam,
Now her light body curls the shining wave.
While thro the woods the sachem chas'd the deer,
Celario mourns Azâkia's long delay, 10
Oft at her absence drops th' empassion'd tear,
Counting the tedious moments' leaden way.
When half the scorching day its course had run,
The wand'rer seeks her lov'd abode again,
Nor thinks how sad existence lingers on, 15
Unsooth'd by love, and worn by anxious pain.
Celario greets her with a lover's care,
And sees new beauties grace her modest form,
Repeats his fond complaint, his late despair,
And dwells enraptur'd on each glowing charm: 20
Till, quite regardless of Ouâbi's name,
His yielding soul to desp'rate love resign'd,
Urg'd with insidious voice his daring flame,
By ev'ry art assail'd her soften'd mind.
Not bright Hesper beams more fair 25
To the love-lorn traveller,
Than those eyes, where beauty warms,
Than that voice, where softness charms,
Than that bosom's gentle swell,
And those lips, where raptures dwell, 30
To this faithful heart of mine,
Truly, only, wholly thine.
Now Ouâbi hunts the deer,
Love and bliss inhabit here;
Here the downy willows bend, 35
Elms their fringed arms extend,
While the sinking sun improves
Ev'ry scene, which fancy loves.
Let thy heart my refuge be,
And my hopes repose on thee; 40
Grant me all those matchless charms,
Yield the heav'n within thy arms.
Does the turtle learn to roam,
When her mate has left his home?
Will the bee forsake her hive? 45
In the peopled wigwam thrive?
Can Azâkia ever prove,
Guardless of Ouâbi's love!
While the shivers from the tree,
Which the warrior broke with me, 50
Straight as honor, bright as fame,
Have not felt the wasting flame!
Think of all his guardian care,
How he train'd thy steps to war;
How, when press'd by ev'ry harm, 55
Stretch'd his life-protecting arm;
Rais'd thee from the trembling ground,
Drew the arrow from thy wound,
Brought thee to his peaceful plain,
Cloth'd thy cheek with health again! 60
Shall I from such virtue part?
Must I break that gen'rous heart?
Ev'ry pang, which kills thy rest,
Then will pierce his faithful breast,
His and thine I cannot be: 65
Must I break his heart for thee?
All the turtle's charms are thine,
All her constant love is mine;
Ev'ry sweet, the bee bestows,
On thy fragrant bosom grows: 70
May each bliss descend on thee,
Be thy griefs reserv'd for me.
Yes! I must thy choice approve;
Give Ouâbi all thy love;
But with thee I cannot stay, 75
Soon, ah! soon I must away,
Where Scioto's waters flow,
Or the fiery Chactaws glow,
Or the snowy mountains rise,
Frozen by Canadian skies: 80
There for refuge will I fly
From the ruin of that eye;
Yet this heart with love will glow
Mid the northern mountains' snow,
On the Chactaws' southern plain 85
Feel the chill of cold disdain.
Why, ungrateful youth, ah! why
Must the poor Azâkia die!
If you leave this blissful plain,
Never shall we meet again. 90
Tho' to great Ouâbi true,
Yet this soul resides with you;
Still will follow all thy care,
While the body wastes to air.
Not the golden source of light, 95
Not the silver queen of night,
Not the placid morning dream,
Not the tree-reflecting stream,
Ever can a charm display,
When thy heav'nly form's away. 100
E'en while she spake the great Ouâbi came,
Celario's cheek betrays the conscious glow;
But chaste Azâkia, pure from ev'ry shame,
Nor checks her tears, nor hides her blameless woe.
With soften'd accent, and expressive eye, 105
The faultless chief regards her quiv'ring fear,
His gentle voice repels the swelling sigh,
His fond endearment stops the rolling tear.
Celario listens with averted mien,
Struck to the soul, by secret guilt oppress'd, 110
In sullen silence wanders round the green,
While the soft sorrower all her grief express'd.
Far from Azâkia's kindly eyes
The lov'd, the lost Celario flies:
For other friends desires to roam, 115
And scorns Ouâbi's lib'ral home!
Dear youth, by bounteous nature blest,
Thou chosen brother of my breast,
What other friends can claim thy care,
For who can hold thee half so dear! 120
Does not the chain of friendship bind
Thy virtues with Ouâbi's mind!
And this warm heart's expanding flame,
Still kindle at Celario's name!
My faithful warriors all are thine, 125
And all thy treach'rous foes are mine.
Perhaps some wrong, thy soul disdains,
Disgusts thee to these hated plains;
By yon bright ruler of the skies,
The wretch, who wrong'd thee, surely dies. 130
The strength'ned foe their arms prepare,
Tomorrow leads me to the war;
This night we claim thee, as a guest,
To join the sacred warrior-feast.
While danger all my steps attend, 135
Let mild Azâkia find a friend.
Native reason's piercing eye,
Melting pity's tender sigh,
Changeless virtue's living flame,
Meek contentment, free from blame, 140
Open friendship's gen'rous care,
Ev'ry boon of life is here!
Yet this heart, to grief a prey,
Loaths the morning's purple ray,
And the azure hour of rest 145
Plants a scorpion in my breast;
But I'll with thee to the war,
Only solace for my care:
Tho' I cannot heave the blow,
Yet will bend the supple bow, 150
Fatal to the flying foe.
Yes! and that great, undaunted mind,
With equal strength and vigor join'd,
Would lead thee with regardless haste
Thro' yon illimitable waste; 155
But yet thy wounded body spare,
Unfit to meet the toils of war;
Unfit the ambush'd chiefs to find,
To follow swifter than the wind,
Or, if by num'rous foes subdued, 160
To fly within the tangling wood:
With my Azâkia then remain,
'Till her lov'd warrior comes again.
Thus great Ouâbi sooths with gentle care
The guilty anguish of Celario's breast, 165
Dissuades his purpose from the coming war,
And calms his stormy passions into rest.
Now the brave hero seeks the distant foe,
And leads his warriors with unequall'd grace,
Adorn'd with paint their martial bodies glow, 170
A firm, unconquer'd, unforgiving race.
Such as when Julius sought Britannia's plain,
With fearless step approach'd her pensile shore,
Whose naked limbs the varying colours stain,
Who dare the war, and scorn the conq'ror's pow'r. 175
Mean time Azâkia for her sachem mourns,
Her troubled heart to ceaseless pangs resign'd;
Now to Celario's ardent love returns,
Now native virtue brightens in her mind.
Unbending honor gains her spotless breast; 180
Forms the resolve to guard his fatal charms,
To seek some nymph with radiant beauty blest,
To win his love, and grace his envi'd arms.
On the young ZISMA all her hopes repose,
Who next herself adorn'd the peopled glade; 185
Like the green bud beneath the op'ning rose,
With bright Azâkia shone the rising maid.
To the fair stranger gentle Zisma flies,
Prevents each wish, each luxury prepares,
Dwells on his beauties with unweari'd eyes, 190
And lures with siren voice his froward cares.
Much he admires, and much his soul approves;
But when was love by frigid prudence sway'd!
In the torn breast, which burning passion moves,
Can the cold law of reason be obey'd! 195
Still to Azâkia all his thoughts retire,
Her slender form, her love-exciting face,
Her gentle voice, each tremb'ling nerve inspire,
And ev'ry smile robs Zisma of a grace.
Oft tears of transport from his eyes distil, 200
Oft rays of hope thro' dark'ning sorrows beam,
Now at her feet the subject of her will,
Now wild as loud Ontario's rushing stream.
Just as the sun awak'd the dewy morn,
And rose resplendent from his wat'ry bed,
When vari'd tints the heav'nly arch adorn,
And o'er the meads enamell'd radiance spread,
At the far limits of the spangled lawn 5
A ghastly figure issued from the wood,
Writhing with anguish, like the wounded fawn,
Cover'd with darts, and stain'd with clotted blood.
Azâkia's bosom swells with boding woes,
Yet to his aid the sweet consoler flies, 10
On his parch'd lips the cooling draught bestows,
Binds his deep wounds, and sooths his labour'd sighs.
When his faint voice, and wasted strength returns,
Oft he attempts, oft quits the fearful tale,
'Till the sad list'ner all her sorrow learns, 15
Whelm'd in dumb grief, with chilling terrors pale.
Too soon, alas! his broken accents show,
How the great chief approach'd the fatal plain,
Tho' nations fell beneath his nervous blow,
O'erpow'r'd by numbers sunk amidst the slain. 20
One equal fate the victor-foes impart,
For the pure town in vain the vanquish'd bend,
The vengeful tomahawk, and hurtling dart,
Down to the shades the hapless heroes send.
While this alone, of all the routed train, 25
From purple heaps, where dying sachems lay,
To seek the lov'd Azâkia's peaceful plain,
Had turn'd his sad, dark, solitary way.
On the far field while great Ouâbi lies,
Breathless and low amid the glorious dead, 30
No friendly hand to close the warrior's eyes,
And shield the plumy honours of his head,
Ungovern'd rage the young Celario fires,
He scorns his wounds, forgets the nymph he loves;
Revenge is all his swelling breast desires, 35
Revenge alone his furious soul approves.
In Zisma's arms, of wasting grief the prey,
The widow'd mourner courts the murd'rous dream,
Shuns the red splendor of the rising day,
The moon's pale radiance, and the shaded stream. 40
Not deeper anguish rends the promis'd bride,
If death relentless lifts his ebon dart,
And tears her youthful lover from her side,
Just when hope warm'd, and pleasure fir'd the heart.
Now brave Celario seeks his scatter'd friends, 45
Who raise new pow'rs, and neighb'ring tribes obtain,
Along the darken'd green the host extends,
Breathing revenge, and undismay'd by pain.
For the young champion all their voices rise,
He can alone their glorious chief succeed, 50
Who erst, beneath that matchless sachem's eyes,
Could greatly conquer, and could nobly bleed.
Ere he departs Azâkia claims his care,
The youthful Zisma at her side he found,
While plung'd in grief, the victim of despair, 55
The lovely suff'rer press'd the turfy ground.
In her cold hand the fatal draught was borne,
Of deadly Cytron's pois'nous root compos'd,
While many a tear, and many a lengthen'd groan,
The purpose of her steady soul disclos'd. 60
When angry spirits shake the skies,
And 'gainst the good the bad arise,
The golden orb, which lights the day,
Withdraws its clear refulgent ray,
'Till GOODNESS gains his native throne, 65
And hurls the pow'r of darkness down.
Then shines the FLAMING ORB more clear,
More ardent splendors gild the year.
Thus would this sensual form control
The glory of th' immortal soul; 70
Would all the charms of light forego,
And chain it to the gloom of woe;
But soon th' unequal contest ends,
Soon the pure soul to bliss ascends,
While thro' the realms of endless day 75
Ouâbi spreads his brighten'd ray.
Last night the beaming warrior came,
Envelop'd in surrounding flame,
Stretch'd his heroic arms to me,
And rais'd this loit'ring heart from thee; 80
If once again he greets my sight,
And calls me to the realms of light,
This killing draught will waft me o'er
The terrors of the win'try shore,
To wander midst the blissful train, 85
And meet the fearless chief again.
How can the dead approach thy sight!
Who guides them thro' the shades of night!
Would that bright soul its bliss resign,
To give a lasting stab to mine! 90
How could the wretch, who caus'd thy pain,
Know when the glorious chief was slain?
Perhaps, the victors' triumph made,
He mourns beneath the silent shade,
Or the slow tortures strive in vain 95
His great, unconquer'd ruind to gain:
This daring arm shall set him free,
Pledge but thy sacred oath to me,
By all the shining pow'rs above,
By thy Celario's constant love, 100
'Till great Ouâbi's fate is known,
Thou wilt not dare to touch thy own.
The foe an easy prey will be,
Now lull'd to calm security:
Surprize will seize the guardless train, 105
And snatch the warrior-chief from pain.
Then by the ruler of the skies,
By young Celario's heav'nly eyes,
By the soft love, those eyes express,
By all his vari'd pow'rs to bless, 110
His hopeless tear, impassion'd sigh,
And look of speechless sympathy,
Witness ye spirits of the dead,
That hover round this widow'd head,
The fatal bowl I will not drain, 115
'Till the young warrior comes again,
Or 'till to great Ouâbi's shade
The sad sepulchral rites are paid.
Charm'd by her accents, from her sight he speeds,
Swift as the falcon darting on the prey, 120
With the red train in eager haste proceeds,
And fires their courage, as he leads their way.
Soon as they gain the region of the foe,
Some he directs the ambush'd path to guide,
Some with strong force to heave the sudden blow, 125
And some to bear the captur'd chiefs aside.
Return'd from conquest, and to case resign'd,
Th' invaded tribe their hasty arms regain,
In ev'ry step an instant death to find,
Or the sad prospect of a life of pain. 130
In vain Celario checks the savage hand,
The helpless mother with her infant dies,
Revenge inspires his unforgiving band,
'Till all one heap of desolation lies.
Now to the town they urge their rapid way, 135
With equal speed the routed foe retires,
There in the midst a tortur'd warrior lay,
Daring the fury of the raging fires.
His mangled form the tort'rers pow'r defies,
His changeless voice the song of death had sung, 140
No tear of pain pollutes his steady eyes,
No cry of mercy trembles on his tongue.
Rear'd midst the war-empurpled plain,
What Illinois submits to PAIN!
How can the glory-darting fire 145
The coward chill of death inspire!
The sun a blazing heat bestows,
The moon midst pensive ev'ning glows,
The stars in sparkling beauty shine,
And own their FLAMING SOURCE divine. 150
Then let me hail th' IMMORTAL FIRE,
And in the sacred flames expire;
Nor yet those Huron hands restrain;
This bosom scorns the throbs of pain.
No griefs this warrior-soul can bow, 155
No pangs contract this even brow;
Not all your threats excite a fear,
Not all your force can start a tear.
Think not with me my tribe decays,
More glorious chiefs the hatchet raise; 160
Not unreveng'd their sachem dies,
Not unattended greets the skies.
Celario listens with the ear of care,
His sinking limbs their wonted aid refuse,
He calls his warriors with distracted air, 165
Whose ready hands the suff'ring victim loose.
Around his feet the young deliv'rer clings;
It is Ouâbi ! greatest! first of men!
The song of death the dauntless sachem sings,
Yet clasps his lov'd Celario once agen. 170
Thro' the deep wood they seek the healing balm,
Weep on his hand, or at his feet deplore;
Ah! how unlike Ouâbi's glorious form!
Now gash'd with wounds, and bath'd in streams of gore!
Snatch'd from the wish'd oblivion of the field, 175
Subjected to the victor's hard decree,
Struck by his form, their iron bosoms yield,
They grant a life depriv'd of liberty.
Th' indignant chief the proffer'd boon disdains,
Defies their rage, and scorns their threat'ning ire, 180
Demands the tortures, and their rending pains,
The ling'ring anguish of the tardy fire.
The Death Song echo'd thro' the hollow wood,
Just when Celario led his warrior-train,
Th' affrighted foe discard the work of blood, 185
And fly impetuous o'er the arid plain.
Thus when a carcase clogs the op'ning vale,
And birds of prey in prowling circles throng,
If some fierce hound approach the tainted gale,
He drives the wild relentless brood along. 190
Pale horror stalks, and swift destruction reigns,
Carnage and death pollute the ruin'd glade,
'Till nature's weari'd arm a respite gains,
When night pacific spreads her sable shade.
While the bent forest drops the chrystal tear,
And frozen Huron chills the shorten'd day,
'Till the young spring restor'd the blossom'd year,
Rack'd by disease the patient sachem lay.
O'er his pierc'd limbs, and lacerated form, 5
Celario binds the health-restoring leaf,
And guards his slumbers from surrounding harm,
With all the silent eloquence of grief.
'Till sov'reign nature, and benignant art,
Revive each nerve, each weaken'd fibre brace, 10
And ev'ry charm, that health and youth impart,
Glows in his veins, and brightens in his face.
Still to his love, Celario's heart returns,
Full oft he mourns her life-oppressing woe,
'Till great Ouâbi all his soul discerns, 15
And views the source, from whence his sorrows flow.
In pensive thought he treads the fenny meads,
While for his native home they bend their way,
Light as the air each hurried step proceeds,
Thro' the slow moments of the ling'ring day: 20
'Till time, whom happy lovers form'd with wings,
To his own plains the matchless chief restores;
Around his neck the wild Azâkia clings,
Now weeps, now joys, now blesses, now deplores.
Another dream had rack'd her sleepless mind, 25
Where the great hero chid her long delay,
While all her tortur'd breast, to death resign'd,
Reproach'd the European's faithless stay.
The chief returns in all his native grace,
Tho' mark'd with wounds, and sear'd with many a scar, 30
Yet manly charms adorn his open face,
Still form'd to lead and guide the glorious war.
Celario gazes with unsated eye,
While down his cheek the tears of rapture flow,
His melting bosom heaves the breathing sigh, 35
And rising cares contract his polish'd brow.
Not unobserv'd the nectar'd sigh ascends,
Nor yet in vain the tears of fondness roll,
With soften'd look the gen'rous sachem bends,
While heav'nly music speaks his yielding soul. 40
In freedom born, to glory bred,
Yet like a dastard captive led,
When sunk in blest oblivious night,
Rais'd to the sorrows of the light,
The life, I scorn'd, they basely gave, 45
And dar'd to claim me as a slave,
To threat me with the darts of pain,
Tho born o'er glorious chiefs to reign;
But, taught Ouâbi's soul to know,
They sought to bend that soul with woe, 50
By vari'd tortures vainly strove
This heav'n-directed eye to move,
When like a God Celario came,
And snatch'd me from the piercing flame.
From thee this arm its strength receives, 55
By thee this form in freedom lives;
By thee was bright Azâkia's breath,
Twice rescu'd from the blast of death;
Each time a greater blessing gave
Than twice Ouâbi's life to save; 60
As he alone her love deserves,
Whose pow'r her matchless charms preserves,
That love, those charms, I now resign,
With ev'ry bliss, that once was mine.
Since all her mind thy worth approves, 65
And all thy soul her beauty loves,
This grateful heart that hand bestows,
Which not to shun a life of woes,
Which not to gain undying fame,
To save me from the Hurons' flame, 70
Would this fond bleeding breast resign,
Or yield to any worth but thine.
First shall the sun forget to lave
His bright beams in the red'ning wave,
The Pleiades shall forsake their sphere, 75
And midst the blaze of noon appear,
Or cold Böotes' car shall roll
In sultry splendor round the pole,
Ere thy Celario hails the day,
In which he tears thy soul away. 80
Tho' late—with pointed grief I see,
And own my black'ning crimes to thee.
When torn by woes, by cares oppress'd,
You clasp'd me to that shelt'ring breast,
Forbade my exil'd steps to roam, 85
And led me to this gen'rous home:
Regardless of thy sacred fame,
I dar'd to urge my guilty flame;
Tho' to that arm my life was due,
And ev'ry bliss deriv'd from you, 90
By each perfidious art I strove
To win the bright Azâkia's love,
With ceaseless passion sought to gain
Her heav'nly charms—but sought in vain.
Yet will the wand'ring traitor go 95
To distant plains, to realms of woe,
'Till absence from his breast remove
The tortures of his impious love,
'Till time with healing on his wing
Shall peace and soft oblivion bring. 100
Yes! in thy guilty deeds I trace
The crimes which still thy realms disgrace;
But my Celario, yet I find
Each native worth adorns thy mind;
For heav'nly beaming TRUTH is there, 105
Of open brow and heart sincere!
No daring vice could e'er control
Azâkia's unpolluted soul.
Born amidst virtue's favor'd race,
Her mind as faultless as her face, 110
Vain must each daring effort prove,
That uncorrupted breast to move;
For on the pure translucid stream
In vain the midnight lightnings beam,
It lifts its bosom to the day, 115
Unsullied as the solar ray.
Yet have I sworn by yon swift flood,
And by this cloud-envelop'd wood,
Ne'er in these war-devoted arms
To clasp again her matchless charms, 120
Nor yet these eyes to sleep resign,
'Till all those matchless charms are thine.
The youthful Zisma's constant smile
Will ev'ry rising grief beguile.
The shivers from the lofty tree, 125
The gentle maid will break with me:
In time her rip'ning form and face
Will bloom with all Azâkia's grace.
But for the war this soul was made,
I scorn the peace-encircled shade: 130
Revenge recals me to the plain,
To meet the Huron foe again.
No friendly calumet shall glow,
No snow-white plume pass o'er the brow,
'Till in one blaze of ruin hurl'd, 135
I sink them to the nether world:
Revenge shall every torment ease,
And e'en the parted soul appease.
Azâkia hears the changeless chief's reply,
Now warm'd with hope, now chill'd with icy fear, 140
Nor dares to meet him with her swimming eye,
Her lab'ring breath, and soul-entrancing care.
Tho' the fam'd warrior rul'd her faithful mind,
The young Celario ev'ry passion mov'd;
E'en to his faults her doting heart inclin'd— 145
Ouâbi was too godlike to be lov'd.
While the soft Zisma learns the fix'd decree,
In modest silence and in pleas'd surprise,
To the great sachem bends her willing knee
With grateful smiles, and rapture-glancing eyes. 150
In vain Celario pleads his alter'd breast,
No Illinois his sacred word recals;
'Tis fix'd—the young deliv'rer shall be blest—
The flames ascend—the branching cedar falls.
Ere the day close the solemn rites begin, 155
The broken shivers feed the hungry blaze;
While the new spires adorn the social green,
And the wild music joins the song of praise.
To his wrapt soul Celario clasps his bride,
Thinks it a dream, some sweet delusive charm; 160
Wonder and joy his beating breast divide,
Dart from his eyes, and ev'ry accent warm.
Thus the young hero from victorious war,
While the throng'd city swells the full acclaim,
Forgets each bleeding friend, each ghastly scar, 165
And ev'ry breeze wafts pleasure, wealth and fame.
Ouâbi, still in matchless worth array'd,
Betrays no grief, no soft, repentant sigh;
But like a parent guards the timid maid,
And claims her friendship with his asking eye. 170
Her slender limbs the matron-garb adorn,
Her locks no more in bright luxuriance flow,
From her smooth brow the maiden veil is drawn,
And glist'ning beads in rainbow-beauty glow.
Joy reigns, and pleasure lights the smiling scene, 175
The graceful feet in mazy circles rove,
While music warbles o'er the peopled green,
And wafts the fond impassion'd breath of love.
Swift flies the sunny morn, that gilds the spring,
Short is the show'r, which bathes the summer day, 180
But swifter still gay pleasure's transient wing,
With fleeter haste contentment, glides away!
E'en while delight expands each winning charm,
Thro' the wide plain the shrieks of fright arise;
The gentle Zisma swells the loud alarm, 185
Her great, her lov'd Ouâbi falls—he dies!
Oh thou, whose feeling heart, and ready sigh,
On ev'ry grief soft sympathy bestow,
Here turn thy blest, benignant, melting eye,
Here let the tears of full compassion flow! 190
Down at his feet the lost Azâkia lies,
Her pale Celario parts the pressing throng,
Th' immortal warrior lifts his darken'd eyes,
And the chok'd words fall quiv'ring from his tongue.
To realms where godlike valour reigns, 195
Exempt from ills, and freed from pains,
Where this unconquer'd soul will shine,
And all the victor's prize be mine,
I go—nor vainly shed the tear,
Ouâbi has no glory here; 200
Unfit the Illinois to guide,
No more the dauntless warriors' pride—
Since as a hapless captive led,
Rack'd like a slave, he basely bled,
No haughty Huron e'er shall boast, 205
He deign'd to live, when fame was lost.
Celario ! thou my place sustain,
The chiefs expect thee on the plain.
Ah! ne'er in earth the hatchet lay,
'Till thou hast swept my foes away. 210
The strong convulsions shake his lab'ring form,
Hard, and with pain, the loit'ring blood retires;
Thus sinks the oak, when loud tornados storm,
The kingly lion with such pangs expires.
Cold to the heart, the peerless sachem falls, 215
No heav'nly pow'rs the fleeting breath restrain,
No human aid his parted soul recals,
Whose life was VIRTUE, and whose fate was PAIN.
Now wailing sorrow murmurs thro the glade,
While to the tomb, where sleep his glorious race, 220
Erect, as when a subject tribe obey'd,
The mourn'd Ouâbi's sacred form they place.
Thus the great soul to realms of light ascends!
Down at his feet the conq'ring hatchet stands,
O'er his high head the spreading bow extends, 225
The lustral coin adorns his lifeless hands!
While to the spot, made holy by his shade,
His faithful tribe with annual care return
And, as the solemn obsequies are paid,
In pious love, and humble rev'rence mourn. 230
Each lonely Illinois, who wanders by,
Will with the hero's fame his way beguile,
In fond devotion bend the suppliant eye,
And add one pillar to the sacred pile.
There shall he rest! and if in realms of day, 235
The GOOD, the BRAVE, diffuse a light divine,
Redoubled splendor gilds the brighten'd ray,
Which bids Ouâbi's NATIVE VIRTUES shine! Poem section
LET not the CRITIC, with disdainful eye,
In the weak verse condemn the novel plan; 240
But own, that VIRTUE beams in ev'ry sky.
Tho wayward frailty is the lot of man,
Dear as ourselves to hold each faithful friend,
To tread the path, which INNATE LIGHT inspires,
To guard our country's rites, her soil defend, 245
Is all that NATURE, all that HEAV'N requires.