Song To The God Of War. (The Missionary.)

A poem by William Lisle Bowles

By thy habitation dread,
In the valley of the dead,
Where no sun, nor day, nor night,
Breaks the red and dusky light;
By the grisly troops, that ride,
Of slaughtered Spaniards, at thy side,--
Slaughtered by the Indian spear,
Mighty Epananum, hear!
Hark, the battle! Hark, the din!
Now the deeds of Death begin!
The Spaniards come, in clouds! above,
I hear their hoarse artillery move!
Spirits of our fathers slain,
Haste, pursue the dogs of Spain!
The noise was in the northern sky!
Haste, pursue! They fly--they fly!
Now from the cavern's secret cell,
Where the direst phantoms dwell,
See they rush, and, riding high,
Break the moonlight as they fly;
And, on the shadowed plain beneath,
Shoot, unseen, the shafts of Death!
O'er the devoted Spanish camp,
Like a vapour, dark and damp,
May they hover, till the plain
Is hid beneath the countless slain;
And none but silent women tread
From corse to corse, to seek the dead!

The wavering fire flashed with expiring light,
When shrill and hollow, through the cope of night,
A distant shout was heard; at intervals,
Increasing on the listening ear it falls.
It ceased; when, bursting from the thickest wood,
With lifted axe, two gloomy warriors stood;
Wan in the midst, with dark and streaming hair,
Blown by the winds upon her bosom bare,
A woman, faint from terror's wild alarms,
And folding a white infant in her arms,
Appeared. Each warrior stooped his lance to gaze
On her pale looks, seen ghastlier through the blaze.
Save! she exclaimed, with harrowed aspect wild;
Oh, save my innocent, my helpless child!
Then fainting fell, as from death's instant stroke;
Caupolican, with stern inquiry, spoke:
Whence come, to interrupt our awful rite,
At this dread hour, the warriors of the night?
From ocean.
Who is she who fainting lies,
And now scarce lifts her supplicating eyes?
The Spanish ship went down; the seamen bore,
In a small boat, this woman to the shore:
They fell beneath our hatchets,--and again,
We gave them back to the insulted main.
The child and woman--of a race we hate--
Warriors, 'tis yours, here to decide their fate.
Vengeance! aloud fierce Mariantu cried:
Let vengeance on the race be satisfied!
Let none of hated Spanish blood remain,
Woman or child, to violate our plain!
Amid that dark and bloody scene, the child
Stretched to the mountain-chief his hands and smiled.
A starting tear of pity dimmed the eye
Of the old warrior, though he knew not why.
Oh, think upon your little ones! he cried,
Nor be compassion to the weak denied.
Caupolican then fixed his aspect mild
On the white woman and her shrinking child,
Then firmly spoke:--
White woman, we were free,
When first thy brethren of the distant sea
Came to our shores! White woman, theirs the guilt!
Theirs, if the blood of innocence be spilt!
Yet blood we seek not, though our arms oppose
The hate of foreign and remorseless foes;
Thou camest here a captive, so abide,
Till the Great Spirit shall our cause decide.
He spoke: the warriors of the night obey;
And, ere the earliest streak of dawning day,
They lead her from the scene of blood away.

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