Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Michigan Forest
 
IN Michigan forest the night-winds were high,
Fast drifted the snow through the bleak winter sky,
And trees, clifts, and mountains were hoary and cold,
While the dark waves of Rasin congeal’d as it roll’d.
 
The wilderness deepen’d in horror and gloom,        5
And nature seem’d wrapt in the sheet of its tomb,
While the howl of the tempest, and ice-greeting surge,
With heart-chilling notes sang her funeral dirge.
 
The beasts of the forest had gone from their homes;
The wolf seem’d to prowl, and the otter to roam:        10
While the hoot of the owl, and the bald eagle scream,
With omen of Philbrook the Wyandotes dream.
 
But who could have dream’d ere the morning would break
That the Indians from drunken repose would awake!
At the hour so dreary, what bosom would fear        15
That the Britons were lurking in ambush so near.
 
If a moment there was when a soldier could dose,
And dream on his station secure from his foes,
’Twas a moment like this, one dark dismal accrued,
At the waning of night in the depth of the wood.        20
 
The hiss of the serpent, and glow from the lair,
When danger is nigh, bids the warrior prepare;
But how should the night-’wilder’d sentinel know
What bush hides his brother, or deadliest foe?
 
The hoop and the yell of the savage was still—        25
No longer the watch-fire was seen on the hill;
The war-song and dance round the captive had closed,
And wrapt in his blanket the warrior reposed.
 
No sound of the bugle, nor beat of the drum,
To proclaim that the Indians and Britons had come,        30
Till the whoop from the onset, the Chippewas raised,
And lighted with cannon the wilderness blazed.
 
At intervals gleam’d the light of the flash,
Their scalpingknife hung to their broad crimson sash;
And tomahawk lifted to strike or to throw,        35
While the red plumes all waved o’er his face-painted brow.
 
At the head of those warriors, in armour all sheen,
And foremost in battle Tecumseh was seen;
More fierce was his aspect, more hideous his form,
And louder his voice than the demon of storm.        40
 
How dread was the conflict, how bloody the fray,
Told the banks of the Rasin at the dawning of day;
While the gush from the wounds of the dying and dead
Had thaw’d for the warrior a snow-sheeted bed.
 
But where is the pride that a soldier can feel,        45
To temper with mercy the wrath of the steel,
While Proctor, victorious, denies to the brave
Who had fallen in battle the gift of a grave?
 
But yet shall Britannia remember the morn,
When reeking the scalps from the living were torn,        50
And the corps of the slain by this sanction was given
To the beasts of the field and the vultures of heaven.
 
 
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