The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier

The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier

Read FREE!

The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier

The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier

Read FREE!

Excerpt

[THE story of MOGG MEGONE has been considered by the author only as a framework for sketches of the scenery of New England, and of its early inhabitants. In portraying the Indian character, he has followed, as closely as his story would admit, the rough but natural delineations of Church Mayhew, Charlevoix, and Roger Williams; and in so doing he has necessarily discarded much of the romance which poets and novelists have thrown around the ill-fated red man.]

PART I.

WHO stands on that cliff, like a figure of stone,
Unmoving and tall in the light of the sky,
Where the spray of the cataract sparkles on high,
Lonely and sternly, save Mogg Megone?
Close to the verge of the rock is he,
While beneath him the Saco its work is doing,
Hurrying down to its grave, the sea,
And slow through the rock its pathway hewing!
Far down, through the mist of the falling river,
Which rises up like an incense ever,
The splintered points of the crags are seen,
With water howling and vexed between,
While the scooping whirl of the pool beneath
Seems an open throat, with its granite teeth!

But Mogg Megone never trembled yet
Wherever his eye or his foot was set.
He is watchful: each form in the moonlight dim,
Of rock or of tree, is seen of him:
He listens; each sound from afar is caught,
The faintest shiver of leaf and limb:
But he sees not the waters, which foam and fret,
Whose moonlit spray has his moccasin wet, --
And the roar of their rushing, he hears it not.

The moonlight, through the open bough
Of the gnarl'd beech, whose naked root
Coils like a serpent at his foot,
Falls, checkered, on the Indian's brow.
His head is bare, save only where
Waves in the wind one lock of hair,
Reserved for him, whoe'er he be,
More mighty than Megone in strife,
When breast to breast and knee to knee,
Above the fallen warrior's life
Gleams, quick and keen, the scalping- knife.

Megone hath his knife and hatchet and gun,
And his gaudy and tasselled blanket on:
His knife hath a handle with gold inlaid,
And magic words on its polished blade, --
'T was the gift of Castine to Mogg Megone,
For a scalp or twain from the Yengees torn:
His gun was the gift of the Tarrantine,
And Modocawando's wives had strung
The brass and the beads, which tinkle and shine
On the polished breach, and broad bright line
Of beaded wampum around it hung.

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