Why do trees along the river
Lean so far out o’er the tide?
Very wise men tell me why, but
I am never satisfied;
And so I keep my fancy still,
That trees lean out to save
The drowning from the clutches of
The cold, remorseless wave.
Ode to Sequoyah
The names of Waitie and Boudinot—
The valiant warrior and gifted sage—
And other Cherokees, may be forgot,
But thy name shall descend to every age;
The mysteries enshrouding Cadmus’ name
Cannot obscure thy claim to fame.
The people’s language cannot perish—nay,
When from the face of this great continent
Inevitable doom hath swept away
The last memorial—the last fragment
Of tribes,—some scholar learned shall pore
Upon thy letters, seeking ancient lore.
Some bard shall lift a voice in praise of thee,
In moving numbers tell the world how men
Scoffed thee, hissed thee, charged with lunacy!
And who could not give ’nough honor when
At length, in spite of jeers, of want and need,
Thy genius shaped a dream into a deed.
By cloud-capped summits in the boundless west,
Or mighty river rolling to the sea,
Where’er thy footsteps led thee on that quest,
Unknown, rest thee, illustrious Cherokee!