Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
By Samuel Webber (1797–1880)
TEN 1 suns upon the woods had shone,
Ten times the evening star had thrown
The lustre of its steady ray
Through the dim shades of closing day,
Ere Logan turn’d him from the chase,        5
His wandering footsteps to retrace.
Of all the scenes through which he pass’d,
By far the loveliest was the last.
Beyond his mid-day bound the sun
Upon his circling course had run,        10
And on the forest’s top his rays
Pour’d in one broad unbroken blaze,
Yet fail’d to pierce the leafy screen,
Whose canopy of living green
High o’er the forest’s vast arcade        15
Spread its thick, deeply tinted shade.
Beneath was stern and solemn gloom,
As in some vast and vaulted tomb.
There rose the towering trunks, whose pride
The shock of ages had defied;        20
Vast as the pillar’d shafts that stand
’Mid Egypt’s ever shifting sand,
Where Carnac’s ruins rise sublime,
Mocking the feeble hand of Time.
Far from the earth they rose on high,        25
In straight, unbroken symmetry,
Then spread at once their branches wide,
Where bough met bough on every side,
And from the upward gazing eye
Shut the blue glimpses of the sky.        30
Beneath no humbler growth was found
With tangled copse to hide the ground,
But at their roots the greensward lay,
And flowers that loved the dubious day;
No sound was wafted on the air        35
To break the stillness slumbering there,
Save the deep moaning of the breeze
That struggled mid the mighty trees,
And more than stillness o’er the mind
Threw feelings deep by awe refined.        40
There Logan pass’d, towards the west
With firm unwavering course he press’d,
Till through the trunks upon his sight
Pour’d the full blaze of golden light;
With swifter step he hurried on,        45
And soon the forest’s boundary won.
Great was the contrast then! the wood
Behind in gloomy grandeur stood;
A spacious plain before him lay
Bright with the cheering beams of day.        50
Far westward stretch’d, in vain the eye
Its distant limits would descry;
By woods on either side embraced,
It seem’d a lake of verdure placed
Amid that dark and gloomy wild,        55
Where scarce a wandering sun-beam smiled.
The western breeze with balmy sigh
Waved the tall grass of sunny dye,
Whose undulations rose and fell
Like ocean’s soft and vernal swell,        60
When poets feign’d upon its breast
The wave-nursed Halcyon’s floating nest.
Amid that verdant lake appear’d,
Like islands ’mid the billows rear’d,
Dark tufted groves, the cool retreat        65
Of wild deer from the noontide heat.
There stretch’d amid the breezy shade
The timid foresters were laid,
Or bounded o’er the plain as light
As the swift swallow’s sportive flight.        70
—All now was light and life, the ear
A softly murmuring sound might hear,
As Nature’s various voices join’d
With notes of harmony combined.
The whispering grass, the rustling tree,        75
The mellow humming of the bee,
The buzz of insect tribes, in play
And sunshine sporting life away,
Floating upon the fragrant air,
As if to feed on odors there.        80
Slow sunk the sun, and twilight deep
Lull’d all that loved his ray to sleep.
  ’Mid gorgeous clouds that robed the west
The sun was sinking to his rest.
When Logan reach’d his home, with toil        85
Nigh wearied and his forest spoil.
While on a hill-top far aloof,
With straining gaze he mark’d the roof,
To see if through its crevice broke
The faint blue wreath of evening smoke,        90
That oft his longing heart had cheer’d,
When first in distance it appear’d,
And spoke of welcome that should greet
His safe return with pleasure meet.
—In vain! the thin, transparent air,        95
Unstain’d by vapor, rested there.
How could this be! the new moon’s bow
But once had shed its silver glow,
When from her home Oana went,
And ere one half its course was spent        100
She promised to return again;
—But now the moon was in its wane,
And scarcely half her orbed face
Lent to the night a mournful grace.
At other time this had been nought,        105
But now of late to anxious thought,
And undefined, his mind was prone;
More than himself would lightly own.
He reach’d his hut, the door was closed,
Within in stillness all reposed        110
As when he left it, not a change
Was there, but sameness still and strange;
As if no hand had oped the door,
Or footstep cross’d the threshold floor.
He sate him down in silence stern,        115
Wishing, yet fearful too, to learn
What evil tidings might await,
—Why thus his home was desolate.
He heard a footstep, at his door
One enter’d, one well known before,        120
Of firm, unfailing friendship proved
In times that faithless hearts had moved.
Then Logan mann’d himself to bear
All he might hear with unmoved air.
‘With thee be peace!’ the chieftain said,        125
His friend the greeting fair repaid.
Logan look’d keenly in his face,
As if he sought his thoughts to trace.
—Vainly; all there was cold and still
As midnight on the ice bound rill.        130
A moment’s pause, then calm and brief
The visitant address’d the chief.
‘Logan, I bring thee tidings dread,
The storm of war above thy head
Has burst, and thou art left alone,        135
For to the land of souls are gone
Thy children and thy wife,’—no more.
The flash that wakes the tempest’s roar,
Bursting around the wanderer’s head
With sheeted flames and thunder dread,        140
Scarcely each shrinking sense confounds,
As Logan’s now these dreadful sounds.
As one upon a rugged steep,
High beetling o’er the roaring deep,
Supported by some slender vine        145
Whose tendrils round the rocks entwine,
Feels when it breaks, and far beneath
He plunges living into death,
So Logan felt, his mind was toss’d,
In chaos and confusion lost,        150
His brain whirl’d dizzily, and sight,
And sense, and thought were banish’d quite.
All hope was reft, and far below
Roll’d the deep gulf of rayless wo.
Joys that had been, and those that he        155
Had fondly thought in time should be,
—All he had lost, together came
Bursting upon his mind like flame,
With the dread sense that nought could save
Or rush between them and the grave.        160
—’T was but an instant; like the light
Of meteor darting through the night,
So swiftly that the gazer’s eye
Scarce marks it as it passes by,
Vanish’d that tempest of the soul,        165
Which then resumed its self-control,
Struggling each outward sign to hide
Of softness that might shame his pride,
And stain his lofty, warrior fame
With weakness of unmanly name.        170
‘’T is well,’ he said and paused,—the tone
Firm and majestic was his own;
His tearless eye was calm and bright,
His dark lip show’d no tinge of white,
And his whole mien was self possess’d        175
As if no passion stirr’d his breast.
Note 1. Webber is a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the son of the late President of Harvard University. He wrote “Logan, an Indian Tale,” published in 1821; and “War, a poem,” in 1824. [back]

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