Song Of The Evil Spirit Of The Woods.

A poem by Thomas Moore

qua via difficilis, quaque est via nulla
OVID Metam. lib iii. v. 227.

Now the vapor, hot and damp,
Shed by day's expiring lamp,
Through the misty ether spreads
Every ill the white man dreads;
Fiery fever's thirsty thrill,
Fitful ague's shivering chill!

Hark! I hear the traveller's song,
As he winds the woods along;--
Christian, 'tis the song of fear;
Wolves are round thee, night is near,
And the wild thou dar'st to roam--
Think, 'twas once the Indian's home![2]

Hither, sprites, who love to harm,
Wheresoe'er you work your charm,
By the creeks, or by the brakes,
Where the pale witch feeds her snakes,
And the cayman[3] loves to creep,
Torpid, to his wintry sleep:
Where the bird of carrion flits,
And the shuddering murderer sits,[4]
Lone beneath a roof of blood;
While upon his poisoned food,
From the corpse of him he slew
Drops the chill and gory dew.

Hither bend ye, turn ye hither,
Eyes that blast and wings that wither
Cross the wandering Christian's way,
Lead him, ere the glimpse of day,
Many a mile of maddening error
Through the maze of night and terror,
Till the morn behold him lying
On the damp earth, pale and dying.
Mock him, when his eager sight
Seeks the cordial cottage-light;
Gleam then, like the lightning-bug,
Tempt him to the den that's dug
For the foul and famished brood
Of the she wolf, gaunt for blood;
Or, unto the dangerous pass
O'er the deep and dark morass,
Where the trembling Indian brings
Belts of porcelain, pipes, and rings,
Tributes, to be hung in air,
To the Fiend presiding there![5]

Then, when night's long labor past,
Wildered, faint, he falls at last,
Sinking where the causeway's edge
Moulders in the slimy sedge,
There let every noxious thing
Trail its filth and fix its sting;
Let the bull-toad taint him over,
Round him let mosquitoes hover,
In his ears and eyeballs tingling,
With his blood their poison mingling,
Till, beneath the solar fires,
Rankling all, the wretch expires!

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