The Iroquois Side Of The Story.

A poem by Nora Pembroke

I, an Iroquois brave,
Speak from my forest grave,
Where by Utawa's wave
I sleep in glory.
Listen, pale faces, then,
Let years roll back again,
While of Iroquois men
I tell the story,

We were the foremost race,
That roamed the forest space;
None stood before our face,
Rousing our fierce wrath;
By Stadacona's steep,
Where Santee's waters sleep,
Prairie broad, valley deep,
Have been our war path.

Eries by inland seas,
Mountain bred Cherokees,
Of us, Hodenosaunees,
With fear grew frantic;
Feared us who made their home,
Under the pinetrees lone,
Where the winds lash to foam,
The wild Atlantic.

Tribute from east and west,
Of what we loved the best,
Wampum belt, necklace drest
Gladly they grant us.
White men can wisely tell,
How we fought, how we fell;
None could our glory quell,
No tribe could daunt us.

Eagles for swiftness we,
Panthers for subtlety,
Wise when in counsel free,
We took our stations.
Where was the tribe so brave,
Whose war craft could them save
From being conquered, slave
Of the Six Nations!

Wah! we all heard the news,
Of the winged war canoes,
Swift as the wild sea mews,
Objects of wonder;
Spreading their white wings wide,
Breasting the mighty tide,
Black lips from out their side,
Spoke lofty thunder.

Upward their way they steer,
Swifter than swimming deer,
Furled they their white wings near
Green Hochelaga.
We heard their name and fame,
Sweeping like forest flame,
To our great lodge it came,
In fair Onondaga.

Shy on their native strand,
The mild Algonquins stand
And gave the heart's right hand
To the white stranger.
With speech and gesture fair,
Gave a free welcome there,
Proud they to spare and share,
Fearing no danger.

Pale face and red man met,
Smoked they the Calumet,
And the peace feast was set
For the pale faces;
All of sweet wild wood cheer,
Fish from the river clear.
Haunch of the antlered deer,
Feast the two races.

If peace and trust were slain,
Whose the loss? Whose the blame?
Let the white scribes explain,
Our foes be our judges.
They sat down as conquerors,
Took the land, took the furs,
Let the braves starve like curs
Outside their lodges.

Vanished the hunter strong,
Stilled was the husking song;
No corn fields stretched along
In green Hochelaga.
Like to the forest flame,
Devouring the white man came;
Soon spread their evil fame
To far Onondaga.

Should we be pale face prey,
Fade like the mist away?
Fiercely we turned to bay
Not like the others.
The mild Algonquin race,
Melted before their face,
Leaving a roomy place
For their white brothers.

But we from sea to lake
Had made the wide earth shake,
And braves like women quake
As they were drunken.
We give our hunting grounds!
Give up our burial mounds!
Whimper like beaten hounds
Like the Algonquin!

We of the forest free,
Born into liberty,
We, lords of all we see
In our own valleys.
Their chief across the waves,
Asked for Iroquois braves,
To be the chained slaves,
Of his war galleys?

Should we the mighty, then,
We, the Iroquois men,
Smoke the peace pipe with them
With these marauders!
No! we, the feared in strife,
Hunted the precious life,
With the red scalping knife,
Through all our borders.

If the fierce war-whoop rung,
In the Iroquois tongue,
And the red warriors sprung
On the pale faces;
Let, then, the guilt accursed,
Fall heaviest and worst,
On who raised the hatchet first
Of the two races.

In the sweet moon of leaves,
When birds the soft nest weaves,
And the free water heaves
Beneath the blue heavens.
Upwards the white braves go,
Vowed to meet us foe to foe,
Landed at the wild Long Sault,
In the calm spring even.

Danlac, their biggest brave,
Gathered a band to save,
The rest from a bloody grave,
From our revenges.
Not for their own land they
Fought as they did that day;
But to take ours away
And to have vengeance.

We vowed, in warrior pride,
To rise, a rushing tide,
And sweep the country wide,
With a death riddance.
To burn their palisades,
And to the forest glades,
In change for Indian maids,
Bear their white maidens.

In painted plumed array,
Hot, panting for the fray,
Our paddles beat the spray
Of the wild water.
Shot through the rapids white,
The war cry of our might,
Rose as we flashed in sight,
Eager for slaughter

Then scouting watchers run,
Then loud alarm of drum,
Shouts of, "The foe! they come,"
Rung through the forest.
Then we, three hundred strong,
Burning with sense of wrong,
Raised our loud battle song,
Sounding the onset.

From the old fort there broke,
Volleying flame and smoke,
And the loud echoes woke
With pale face thunder.
And shot in torrents fell,
As if the hottest hell,
Of which the black robes tell;
Opened in wonder,

Woe to the white race, woe!
Wild we dashed at the foe,
Showering blow on blow
On their defences
We with our bosoms bare,
Surged up against their lair;
They in a brave despair,
Behind their fences,

Belched out a fiery hail
Like leaves in autumn pale,
Fell we before that gale
In the death heaping.
Till the young grass grew red
With the blood blanket spread,
Under Iroquois dead,
In glory sleeping.

Sank down the big round sun,
And the red fight was done,
To be again begun
In the grey dawning;
Remained there but twenty two,
With whom we had to do,
Of that devoted few
For whom death was yawning.

Charged we at the fort again,
Axes crashed through heart and brain,
Heaps on heaps fell our slain
The red price paying.
We fell as leaves before the gale,
But of the faces pale,
None lived to tell the tale
Of that grim slaying.

The fort was taken at last,
Blood and fire mingling fast,
Death's bitterness was past,
For none were breathing.
Where lay our enemies,
Side by side were swart allies,
Brave and pale-face mingled, lies
Christian and heathen.

This feat of arms that gave
Unto these bravest brave,
Death and a bloody grave,
Is told in story.
All the valour and the might,
Of the pale-face in the fight,
When the story's told aright,
We will share the glory.

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