Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Fall of Tecumseh
 
WHAT heavy-hoof’d coursers the wilderness roam,
  To the war-blast indignantly tramping?
Their mouths are all white, as if frosted with foam,
  The steel bit impatiently champing.
 
’Tis the hand of the mighty that grasps the rein,        5
  Conducting the free and the fearless.
Ah! see them rush forward, with wild disdain,
  Through paths unfrequented and cheerless.
 
From the mountains had echoed the charge of death
  Announcing that chivalrous sally;        10
The savage was heard, with untrembling breath,
  To pour his response from the valley.
 
One moment, and naught but the bugle was heard,
  And naught but the war-whoop given;
The next—and the sky seemed convulsively stirr’d,        15
  As if by the lightning riven.
 
The din of the steed, and the sabred stroke,
  The blood-stifled gasp of the dying,
Were screen’d by the curling sulphur-smoke,
  That upward went wildly flying.        20
 
In the mist that hung over the field of blood,
  The chief of the horsemen contended;
His rowels were bathed in the purple flood
  That fast from his charger descended.
 
That steed reel’d, and fell, in the van of the fight,        25
  But the rider repress’d not his daring,
Till met by a savage, whose rank and might
  Were shown by the plume he was wearing.
 
The moment was fearful; a mightier foe
  Had ne’er swung the battle-axe o’er him;        30
But hope nerved his arm for a desperate blow,
  And Tecumseh fell prostrate before him.
 
O ne’er may the nations again be cursed
  With conflict so dark and appalling!—
Foe grappled with foe, till the life-blood burst        35
  From their agonized bosoms in falling.
 
Gloom, silence, and solitude rest on the spot
  Where the hopes of the red man perish’d;
But the fame of the hero who fell shall not,
  By the virtuous, cease to be cherish’d.        40
 
He fought, in defence of his kindred and king,
  With a spirit most loving and loyal,
And long shall the Indian warrior sing
  The deeds of Tecumseh, the royal.
 
The lightning of intellect flash’d from his eye,        45
  In his arm slept the force of the thunder,
But the bolt pass’d the suppliant harmlessly by,
  And left the freed captive to wonder. 1
 
Above, near the path of the pilgrim, he sleeps,
  With a rudely-built tumulus o’er him;        50
And the bright-bosom’d Thames, in its majesty, sweeps
  By the mound where his followers bore him.
 
Note 1. This highly intellectual savage, appropriately styled “king of the woods,” was no less distinguished for his acts of humanity than heroism. He fell in the bloody charge at Moravian town during the war of 1812–15. [back]
 
 
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