Funeral Tree of the Sokokis

 John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

AROUND Sebago’s lonely lake
There lingers not a breeze to break
The mirror which its waters make.

The solemn pines along its shore,
The firs which hang its gray rocks o’er,
Are painted on its glassy floor.

The sun looks o’er, with hazy eye,
The snowy mountain-tops which lie
Piled coldly up against the sky.

Dazzling and white! save where the bleak,
Wild winds have bared some splintering peak,
Or snow-slide left its dusky streak.

Yet green are Saco’s banks below,
And belts of spruce and cedar show,
Dark fringing round those cones of snow.

The earth hath felt the breath of spring,
Though yet on her deliverer’s wing
The lingering frosts of winter cling.

Fresh grasses fringe the meadow-brooks,
And mildly from its sunny nooks
The blue eye of the violet looks.

And odors from the springing grass,
The sweet birch and the sassafras,
Upon the scarce-felt breezes pass.

Her tokens of renewing care
Hath Nature scattered everywhere,
In bud and flower, and warmer air.

But in their hour of bitterness,
What reck the broken Sokokis,
Beside their slaughtered chief, of this?

The turf’s red stain is yet undried,
Scarce have the death-shot echoes died
Along Sebago’s wooded side;

And silent now the hunters stand,
Grouped darkly, where a swell of land
Slopes upward from the lake’s white sand.

Fire and the axe have swept it bare,
Save one lone beech, unclosing there
Its light leaves in the vernal air.

With grave, cold looks, all sternly mute,
They break the damp turf at its foot,
And bare its coiled and twisted root.

They heave the stubborn trunk aside,
The firm roots from the earth divide,–
The rent beneath yawns dark and wide.

And there the fallen chief is laid,
In tasselled garb of skins arrayed,
And girded with his wampum-braid.

The silver cross he loved is pressed
Beneath the heavy arms, which rest
Upon his scarred and naked breast.

‘T is done: the roots are backward sent,
The beechen-tree stands up unbent,
The Indian’s fitting monument!

When of that sleeper’s broken race
Their green and pleasant dwelling-place,
Which knew them once, retains no trace;

Oh, long may sunset’s light be shed
As now upon that beech’s head,
A green memorial of the dead!

There shall his fitting requiem be,
In northern winds, that, cold and free,
Howl nightly in that funeral tree.

To their wild wail the waves which break
Forever round that lonely lake
A solemn undertone shall make!

And who shall deem the spot unblest,
Where Nature’s younger children rest,
Lulled on their sorrowing mother’s breast?

Deem ye that mother loveth less
These bronzed forms of the wilderness
She foldeth in her long caress?

As sweet o’er them her wild-flowers blow,
As if with fairer hair and brow
The blue-eyed Saxon slept below.

What though the places of their rest
No priestly knee hath ever pressed,–
No funeral rite nor prayer hath blessed?

What though the bigot’s ban be there,
And thoughts of wailing and despair,
And cursing in the place of prayer!

Yet Heaven hath angels watching round
The Indian’s lowliest forest-mound,–
And they have made it holy ground.

There ceases man’s frail judgment; all
His powerless bolts of cursing fall
Unheeded on that grassy pall.

O peeled and hunted and reviled,
Sleep on, dark tenant of the wild!
Great Nature owns her simple child!

And Nature’s God, to whom alone
The secret of the heart is known,–
The hidden language traced thereon;

Who from its many cumberings
Of form and creed, and outward things,
To light the naked spirit brings;

Not with our partial eye shall scan,
Not with our pride and scorn shall ban,
The spirit of our brother man.


Dull Seers, in Dreams Sublime

What tho’ dull seers have sung, in dreams sublime,
Thy ruin floats along the verge of time,
Tho’ without hands the stone from mountains riven,
Alarms my throne, and hastes the ire of heaven;
Tho’ bliss’ dread heralds earth’s far limits round
Pardon, and peace, and joy, ere long shall sound;
How beauteous are their feet! all regions cry,
And one great, natal song salute the sky:
Still, should I sink, a glorious fate I’ll find,
And sink amid the ruins of mankind.
But what blest onset shall I now begin,
To plunge the New World in the gulph of sin?
With sweet declension, down perdition’s steep,
How, in one host, her cheated millions sweep?
I hail the glorious project, first, and best,
That ever Satan’s bright invention blest;
That on this world my kingdom first began,
And lost my rival paradise, and man.
Twice fifteen suns are past, since C * * * * * *’s mind,
Thro’ doctrines deep, from common sense resin’d,
I led, a nice, mysterious work to frame,
With love of system, and with lust of same.
Fair in his hand the pleasing wonder grew,
Wrought with deep art, and stor’d with treasures new:
There the sweet sophism led the soul astray;
There round to heaven soft bent the crooked way:
Saints, he confess’d, the shortest rout pursue;
But, scarce behind, my children follow too.
Even Satan’s self ere long shall thither hie;
On cap, huzza! and thro’ the door go I!
Now palsied age has dimm’d his mental sight,
I’ll rouse the sage his master’s laws to fight,
The injuries, long he render’d, to repair
And wipe from heaven’s fair book his faith and prayer.

Timothy Dwight: The Triumph of Infidelity (1788)

Clodhopping Oracles of Man

From scenes obscure, did heaven his * * * * * call,
That moral Newton, and that second Paul.
He, in clear view, saw sacred systems roll,
Of reasoning worlds, around their central soul;
Saw love attractive every system bind,
The parent linking to each filial mind;
The end of heaven’s high works resistless shew’d,
Creating glory, and created good;
And, in one little life, the gospel more
Disclos’d, than all earth’s myriads kenn’d before.
Beneath his standard; lo what number rise,
To dare for truth, and combat for the skies!
Arm’d at all points, they try the battling field,
With reason’s sword and faith’s etherial shield.
To ward this fate all irreligion can,
Whate’er sustains, or flatters sinning man;
Whate’er can conscience of her thorns disarm,
Or calm, at death’s approach, the dread alarm;
Whate’er like truth, with error cheats mankind;
Whate’er, like virtue, taints with vice the mind;
I preach’d, I wrote, I argued, pray’d, and lied,
What could my friends, or even myself, beside?
But, tho’ with glad successes often crown’d,
Unceasing fears my troubled path surround.
While with each toil my friends the cause sustain,
Their toils, their efforts, and their arts are vain.
Even plodding * * * * * * * * did but little good,
Who taught, the foul of man was made of mud:
Cold mud was virtue; warmer mud was sin;
And thoughts the angle-worms, that crawl’d within:
Nor taught alone; but wife, to precept join’d
A fair example, in his creeping mind.
In vain thro realms of nonsense * * * * * * * ran
The great Clodhopping oracle of man.
Yet faithful were his toils: What could he more?
In Satan’s cause he bustled, bruised, and swore;
And what the due reward, from me shall know,
For gentlemen of equal worth below.
To vengeance then, my soul, to vengeance rise,
Assert thy glory and assault the skies.

Timothy Dwight: The Triumph of Infidelity (1788)

Satanic Imps & Jesuitic Arts

Vatican City is home to a building shaped like a serpent's ...

He too reveal’d, that candour bade mankind
Believe my haughty rival weak, and blind;
That all things wrong a ruling God denied;
Or a satanic imp that God implied
An imp, per chance of power and skill possest,
But not with justice, truth, or goodness blest.
Doctrines divine! would men their force receive,
And live to Satan’s glory, as believe.
Nor these alone: from every class of man,
I gain’d new aids to build the darling plan.
But chief his favorite class, his priests, I won,
To undermine his cause, and prop my own.
Here Jesuitic art its frauds combin’d
To draw ten thousand cobwebs o’er the mind.
In poisoned toils the flutterer to inclose,
And fix, with venom’d fangs, eternal woes.
On sceptic dross they stamp’d heavens image bright,
And nam’d their will a wisp, immortal light,
Thro’ moors, and fens the sightless wanderer led,
‘Till down he plung’d, ingulph’d among the dead.
To life, Socinus here his millions drew,
In ways, the art of Heaven conceal’d from view,
Undeified the world’s almighty trust,
And lower’d eternity’s great sire to dust.
He taught, O first of men! the Son of God,
Who hung the globe, and stretch’d the heavens abroad,
Spoke into life the sun’s supernal fire,
And mov’d to harmony the flaming choir,
Who in his hand immensity insolds,
And angels, worlds, and suns, and heavens, upholds,
Is — what? a worm, on far creation’s limb,
A minim, in intelligence extreme.
O wondrous gospel, where such doctrines rise!
Discoveries wondrous of most wondrous eyes!

Timothy Dwight: The Triumph of Infidelity (1788)