For a while the salt brine leaves me
O'er my terraced rocks to fall,
And my broad swift-gliding waters
Olden memories recall.
Ere the tallest pines were seedlings
With my life-stream these were blent;
As a father's words, like arrows
Straight to children's hearts are sent,
So my currents speeding downwards,
Ever passing, sing the same
Story of the days remembered,
When the stranger people came.
Men of mighty limbs and voices,
Bearing shining shields and knives,
Painted gleamed their hair like evening,
When the sun in ocean dives.
Blue their eyes and tall their stature,
Huge as Indian shadows seen
When the sun through mists of morning
Casts them o'er a clear lake's sheen.
From before the great Pale-faces
Fled the tribes to woods and caves,
Watching thence their fearful councils,
Where they talked beside the waves.
For they loved the shores, and fashioned
Houses from its stones, and there
Fished and rested, danced at night-time
By their fire and torches' glare.
Sang loud songs before the pine-logs
As they crackled in the flame,
Raised and drank from bone-cups, shouting
Fiercely some strange spirit's name.
Turning to the morning's pathway,
Cried they thus to gods, and none
Dared to fight the bearded giants,
Children of the fire and sun.
From their bodies fell our flint-darts,
Yet their arrows flew, like rays
Flashing from the rocks where polished
By the ice in winter days.
Then the Indians prayed the spirits
Haunting river, bank, and hill,
To let hatred, like marsh vapour,
Rise among their foes and kill.
And they seemed to heed, for anger
Often maddened all the band,
Fighting for some stones that glittered
Yellow on Ugondé's sand.
Seeing axe and spear-head crimson,
Hope illumined doubt and dread,
And our land's despairing children
Called upon the mighty dead.
All the Northern night-air shaking,
Rose the ancients' bright array,
Burning lines of battle breaking
Darkness into lurid day.
But the stranger hearts were hardened,
Fearless slept they; then at last
Our Great Spirit heard, and answered
From his home in heaven vast.
For his waving locks were tempests,
And the thunder-cloud his frown;
Where he trod the earthquake followed,
And the forests bowed them down.
As his whirlwind struck the mountains,
Rent and lifted, swayed the ground;
Winged knives of crooked lightning
Gleamed from skies and gulfs profound.
Floods, from wonted channels driven,
Roared at falling hillside's shock;
What was land became the torrent,
What was lake became the rock.
Now the river and the ocean,
Whispering, say: "Our floods alone
See white skeletons slow-moving
Near the olden walls of stone."
Moving slow in stream and sea-tide,
There the stranger warriors sleep,
And their shades still cry in anguish
Where the foaming waters leap.