The Prophecy of King Tammany
The Indian chief who, famed of yore,
Saw Europe's sons adventuring here,
Looked, sorrowing, to the crowded shore,
And sighing dropt a tear!
He saw them half his world explore,
He saw them draw the shining blade,
He saw their hostile ranks displayed,
And cannons blazing through that shade
Where only peace was known before.
“Ah, what unequal arms!” he cried,
“How art thou fallen, my country's pride,
“The rural, sylvan reign!
“Far from our pleasing shores to go
“To western rivers, winding slow,
“Is this the boon the gods bestow!
“What have we done, great patrons, say,
“That strangers seize our woods away,
“And drive us naked from our native plain?
“Rage and revenge inspire my soul,
“And passion burns without controul;
“Hence, strangers, to your native shore!
“Far from our Indian shades retire,
“Remove these gods that vomit fire,
“And stain with blood these ravaged glades no more;
“In vain I weep, in vain I sigh,
“These strangers all our arms defy,
“As they advance our chieftains die!—
“What can their hosts oppose!
“The bow has lost its wonted spring,
“The arrow faulters on the wing,
“Nor carries ruin from the string
“To end their being and our woes.
“Yes, yes,—I see our nation bends;
“The gods no longer are our friends;—
“But why these weak complaints and sighs?
“Are there not gardens in the west,
“Where all our far-famed Sachems rest?—
“I'll go, an unexpected guest,
“And the dark horrors of the way despise.
“Even now the thundering peals draw nigh,
“’Tis theirs to triumph, ours to die!
“But mark me, Christian, ere I go—
“Thou, too, shalt have thy share of woe;
“The time rolls on, not moving slow,
“When hostile squadrons for your blood shall come,
“And ravage all your shore!
“Your warriors and your children slay,
“And some in dismal dungeons lay,
“Or lead them captive far away
“To climes unknown, through seas untried before.
“When struggling long, at last with pain
“You break a cruel tyrant's chain,
“That never shall be joined again,
“When half your foes are homeward fled,
“And hosts on hosts in triumph led,
“And hundreds maimed and thousands dead,
“A sordid race will then succeed,
“To slight the virtues of the firmer race,
“That brought your tyrant to disgrace,
“Shall give your honours to an odious train,
“Who shunned all conflicts on the main
“And dared no battles on the bloody plain,
“Whose little souls sunk in the gloomy day
“When virtue only could support the fray
“And sunshine friends kept off—or ran away.”
So spoke the chief, and raised his funeral pyre—
Around him soon the crackling flames ascend;
He smiled amid the fervours of the fire
To think his troubles were so near their end,
’Till the freed soul, her debt to nature paid,
Rose from the ashes that her prison made,
And sought the world unknown, and dark oblivion's shade.
Published in the Freeman's Journal, December 11, 1782.