Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
George Nidiver
By Elizabeth Hoar (1814–1878)
MEN have done brave deeds,
  And bards have sung them well:
I of good George Nidiver
  Now the tale will tell.
In Californian mountains        5
  A hunter bold was he:
Keen his eye and sure his aim
  As any you should see.
A little Indian boy
  Followed him everywhere,        10
Eager to share the hunter’s joy,
  The hunter’s meal to share.
And when the bird or deer
  Fell by the hunter’s skill,
The boy was always near        15
  To help with right good-will.
One day as through the cleft
  Between two mountains steep,
Shut in both right and left,
  Their questing way they keep,        20
They see two grizzly bears,
  With hunger fierce and fell,
Rush at them unawares
  Right down the narrow dell.
The boy turned round with screams,        25
  And ran with tenor wild:
One of the pair of savage beasts
  Pursued the shrieking child.
The hunter raised his gun,—
  He knew one charge was all,—        30
And through the boy’s pursuing foe
  He sent his only ball.
The other on George Nidiver
  Came on with dreadful pace:
The hunter stood unarmed,        35
  And met him face to face.
I say unarmed he stood:
  Against those frightful paws
The rifle butt, or club of wood,
  Could stand no more than straws.        40
George Nidiver stood still,
  And looked him in the face:
The wild beast stopped amazed,
  Then came with slackening pace.
Still firm the hunter stood,        45
  Although his heart beat high:
Again the creature stopped,
  And gazed with wondering eye.
The hunter met his gaze,
  Nor yet an inch gave way;        50
The bear turned slowly round,
  And slowly moved away.
What thoughts were in his mind
  It would be hard to spell:
What thoughts were in George Nidiver        55
  I rather guess than tell.
But sure that rifle’s aim,
  Swift choice of generous part,
Showed in its passing gleam
  The depths of a brave heart.        60

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