To my Maternal Grand-father on hearing his descent from Chippewa ancestors misrepresented Rise bravest chief! of the mark of the noble deer, With eagle glance, Resume thy lance, And wield again thy warlike spear! The foes of thy line, With coward design, Have dared with black envy to garble the truth, And stain with a falsehood thy valorous youth. They say when a child, thou wert ta’en from the Sioux, And with impotent aim, To lessen thy fame Thy warlike lineage basely abuse; For they know that our band, Tread a far distant land, And thou noble chieftain art nerveless and dead, Thy bow all unstrung, and thy proud spirit fled. Can the sports of thy youth, or thy deeds ever fade? Or those e’er forget, Who are mortal men yet, The scenes where so bravely thou’st lifted the blade, Who have fought by thy side, And remember thy pride, When rushing to battle, with valour and ire, Thou saw’st the fell foes of thy nation expire? Can the warrior forget how sublimely you rose? Like a star in the west, When the sun’s sink to rest, That shines in bright splendour to dazzle our foes? Thy arm and thy yell, Once the tale could repel Which slander invented, and minions detail, And still shall thy actions refute the false tale. Rest thou, noblest chief! in thy dark house of clay, Thy deeds and thy name, Thy child’s child shall proclaim, And make the dark forests resound with the lay; Though thy spirit has fled, To the hills of the dead, Yet thy name shall be held in my heart’s warmest core, And cherish’d till valour and love be no more.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 18, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.