The Thunderbolt. - Indian Legends.

A poem by Mary Gardiner Horsford

There is an artless tradition among the Indians, related by Irving, of a warrior who saw the thunderbolt lying upon the ground, with a beautifully wrought moccasin on each side of it. Thinking he had found a prize, he put on the moccasins, but they bore him away to the land of spirits, whence he never returned.


Loud pealed the thunder
From arsenal high,
Bright flashed the lightning
Athwart the broad sky;
Fast o'er the prairie,
Through torrent and shade,
Sought the red hunter
His hut in the glade.

Deep roared the cannon
Whose forge is the sun,
And red was the chain
The thunderbolt spun;
O'er the thick wild wood
There quivered a line,
Low 'mid the green leaves
Lay hunter and pine.

Clear was the sunshine,
The hurricane past,
And fair flowers smiled in
The path of the blast;
While in the forest
Lay rent the huge tree,
Up rose the red man,
All unharmed and free.

Bright glittered each leaf
With sunlight and spray,
And close at his feet
The thunder-bolt lay,
And moccasins, wrought
With the beads that shine,
Where the rainbow hangeth
A wampum divine.

Wondered the hunter
What spirit was there,
Then donned the strange gift
With shout and with prayer;
But the stout forest
That echoed the strain,
Heard never the voice of
That red man again.

Up o'er the mountain,
As torrents roll down,
Marched he o'er dark oak
And pine's soaring crown;
Far in the bright west
The sunset grew clear,
Crimson and golden
The hunting-grounds near:

Light trod the chieftain
The tapestried plain,
There stood his good horse
He'd left with the slain;
Gone were the sandals,
And broken the spell;
A drop of clear dew
From either foot fell.

Long the dark maiden
Sought, tearful and wide;
Never the red man
Came back for his bride;
With the forked lightning
Now hunts he the deer,
Where the Great Spirit
Smiles ever and near.

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