Charles Mair

From: Tecumseh

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LEFROY. This region is as lavish of its flowers
As heaven of its primrose blooms by night.
This is the arum which within its root
Folds life and death; and this the prince's pine,
Fadeless as love and truth–the fairest form
That ever sun-shower washed with sudden rain.
This golden cradle is the moccasin flower,
Wherein the Indian hunter sees his hound;
And this dark chalice is the pitcher-plant,
Stored with the water of forgetfulness.
Whoever drinks of it, whose heart is pure,

Will sleep for aye 'neath foodful asphodel
And dream of endless love. I need it not.
I am awake, and yet I dream of love.
It is the hour of meeting, when the sun
Takes level glances at these mighty woods,
And Iena has never failed till now
To meet me here. What keeps her? Can it be
The Prophet? Ah, that villain has a thought,
Undreamt of by his simple followers,
Dark in his soul as midnight! If–but no–
He fears her though he hates.
What shall I do?
Rehearse to listening woods, or ask these oaks
What thoughts they have, what knowledge of the past?
They dwarf me with their greatness, but shall come
A meaner and a mightier than they,
And cut them down. Yet rather would I dwell
With them, with wildness and its stealthy forms–
Yea, rather with wild men, wild beasts and birds,
Than in the sordid town that here may rise.
For here I am a part of nature's self,
And not divorced from her like men who plod
The weary streets of care in search of gain.
And here I feel the friendship of the earth:
Not the soft cloying tenderness of hand
Which fain would satiate the hungry soul
With household honey combs and parloured sweets,
But the strong friendship of primeval things–
The rugged kindness of a giant heart,
And love that lasts.
I have a poem made
Which doth concern earth's injured majesty–
Be audience, ye still untroubled stems!

(Recites)

There was a time on this fair continent
When all things throve in spacious peacefulness.
The prosperous forests unmolested stood,
For where the stalwart oak grew there it lived
Long ages, and then died among its kind.


The hoary pines–those ancients of the earth–
Brimful of legends of the early world,
Stood thick on their own mountains unsubdued.
And all things else illumined by the sun,
Inland or by the lifted wave, had rest.
The passionate or calm pageants of the skies
No artist drew; but in the auburn west
Innumerable faces of fair cloud
Vanished in silent darkness with the day.
The prairie realm–vast ocean's paraphrase–
Rich in wild grasses numberless, and flowers
Unnamed save in mute nature's inventory,
No civilized barbarian trenched for gain.
And all that flowed was sweet and uncorrupt.
The rivers and their tributary streams,
Undammed, wound on forever, and gave up
Their lonely torrents to weird gulfs of sea,
And ocean wastes unshadowed by a sail.
And all the wild life of this western world
Knew not the fear of man; yet in those woods,
And by those plenteous streams and mighty lakes,
And on stupendous steppes of peerless plain,
And in the rocky gloom of canyons deep,
Screened by the stony ribs of mountains hoar
Which steeped their snowy peaks in purging cloud,
And down the continent where tropic suns
Warmed to her very heart the mother earth,
And in the congealed north where silence' self
Ached with intensity of stubborn frost,
There lived a soul more wild than barbarous:
A tameless soul–the sunburnt savage free–
Free, and untainted by the greed of gain:
Great nature's man content with nature's food.

But hark! I hear her footsteps in the leaves–
And so my poem ends.
–Scene II, Act I.

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Charles Mair