Along The Ohio

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Athwart a sky of brass long welts of gold;
A path of gold the wide Ohio lies;
Beneath the sunset, billowing manifold,
The dark-blue hilltops rise.

And westward dips the crescent of the moon
Through great cloud-feathers, flushed with rosy ray,
That close around the crystal of her lune
The redbird wings of Day.

A little skiff slips o'er the burnished stream;
A fiery wake, that broadens far behind,
Follows in ripples; and the paddles gleam
Against the evening wind.

Was it the boat, the solitude and hush,
That with dead Indians peopled all the glooms?
That made each bank, meseemed, and every bush
Start into eagle-plumes?

That made me seem to hear the breaking brush,
And as the deer's great antlers swelled in view,
To hear the arrow twang from cane and rush,
That dipped to the canoe?

To see the glimmering wigwams by the waves?
And, wildly clad, around the camp-fires' glow,
The Shawnee chieftains with their painted braves,
Each grasping his war-bow?

But now the vision like the sunset fades,
The ribs of golden clouds have oozed their light;
And from the west, like sombre sachem shades,
Gallop the shades of night.

The broad Ohio glitters to the stars;
And many murmurs whisper in its woods
Is it the sorrow of dead warriors
For their lost solitudes?

The moon goes down; and like another moon
The crescent of the river twinkles there,
Unchanged as when the eyes of Daniel Boone
Beheld it flowing fair.

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