What an Indian Thought When He Saw the Comet

Flaming wonderer! that dost leave vaunting, proud
Ambition boasting its lightning fringed
Immensity—cleaving wings, gaudy dipp’d
In sunset’s blossoming splendors bright and
Tinsel fire, with puny flight fluttering
Far behind! Thou that art cloth’d in mistery
More startling and more glorious than thine own
Encircling fires—profound as the oceans
Of shoreless space through which now thou flyest!
Art thou some erring world now deep engulph’d
In hellish, Judgement fires, with phrenzied ire
And fury hot, like some dread sky rocket
Of Eternity, flaming, vast, plunging
Thro’ immensity, scatt’ring in thy track
The wrathful fires of thine own damnation
Or wingest thou with direful speed, the ear
Of some flaming god of far off systems
Within these skies unheard of and unknown?
Ye Gods! How proud the thought to mount this orb
Of fire—boom thro’ the breathless oceans vast
Of big immensity—quickly leaving
Far behind all that for long ages gone
Dull, gray headed dames have prated of—
Travel far off mystic eternities—
Then proudly, on this little twisting ball
Returning once more set foot, glowing with
The splendors of a vast intelligence—
Frizzling little, puny humanity
Into icy horrors—bursting the big
Wide-spread eyeball of dismay—to recount
Direful regions travers’d and wonders seen!
Why I’d be as great a man as Fremont
Who cross’d the Rocky Mountains, didn’t freeze
And’s got a gold mine!

More by Tso-le-oh-woh

A Red Man's Thoughts

Suggested by the eagerness and the multitude of the applicants for Indian Superindendencies and Agencies

’Tis strange to think how hard they love us—
   These kind-hearted Christian whites
Tho’ “by nature so far above us”
   Stooping each his fondness plights.

How blest we are, we little reds
   To get such great attentions—
Pure love for us has addled heads
   Of most superb pretentions.

These good old souls along the line
   Will sell their very purses—
Take long travels—grow quite divine—
   To get to be our nurses.

Of dimes and cents they never dream
   Or stoop to flatt’ries hollow;
O’er their proud souls doth never gleam
   The magic of a dollar. No indeed!

They kneeling plead for our poor race
   All elbowing off th’ others,
With streaming eyes they stretch their grace
   To get to be our “fathers.”

We are but children at the most,
   Poor, weakly, red and puny,
But for our dear sakes to brave the worst,
   Indeed ’tis “sorter” funny.

They leave their homes and all that’s dear—
   Go to the Fed’ral City—
Yet oft, Uncle Sam! he will not hear,
   Indeed it is a pity.

If he but knew how hard they loved us—
   How all their examples past
Have so moralized and improved us,
   That now we are wond’rous blest.

He would not—could not thus mistreat them,
   He would hush their plaintive cries
The whole colony! he would greet them!
   Drying tears with Agencies.

Before a one should miss a berth
   As needs he’d make another
Till every Indian on the earth
   Should have a sep’rate “father.”

And this I think he ought to do
   ’Tis only what they merit
Where’er there’s a good on this broad earth
   “They have a right” to share it!

Related Poems

Reflections Irregular

I cast a backward look—how changed
       The scenes of other days!
I walk, a wearied man, estranged
       From youth’s delightful ways.
There in the distance rolleth yet
       That stream whose waves my
Boyish bosom oft has met,
       When pleasure lit mine eye.
It rolleth yet, as clear, as bold,
       As pure as it did then;
But I have grown in youth-time old,
       And, mixing now with men,
My sobered eye must not attend
To that sweet stream, my early friend!
The music of its waters clear
Must now but seldom reach my ear,
But murmur still now carelessly
To every heedless passer-by.
How often o’er its rugged cliffs I’ve strayed,
And gaily listened, as its billows played
Such deep, low music at their base—
And then such brightening thoughts would trace
Upon the tablet of my mind!
Alas, those days have run their race,
Their joys I nowhere now can find.
       I have no time to think
            Of climbing Glory’s sunny mount
       I have no time to drink
            At Learning’s bubbling fount!
Now corn and potatoes call me
From scenes were wont to enthrall me—
            A weary wight,
            Both day and night
My brain is full of business matters,
            Reality has snatched the light,
            From fancy’s head, that shone so bright,
And tore the dreams she wove, to tatters!

On Viewing the Skull and Bones of a Wolf

How savage, fierce and grim!
     His bones are bleached and white.
But what is death to him?
     He grins as if to bite.
He mocks the fate
     That bade, ''Begone.''
There's fierceness stamped
     In ev'ry bone.
 

Let silence settle from the midnight sky—
Such silence as you've broken with your cry;
The bleak wind howl, unto the ut'most verge
Of this mighty waste, thy fitting dirge.

A Song of a Navajo Weaver

For ages long, my people have been 
     Dwellers in this land;
For ages viewed these mountains,
     Loved these mesas and these sands,
That stretch afar and glisten,
     Glimmering in the sun
As it lights the mighty canons
     Ere the weary day is done.
Shall I, a patient dweller in this
     Land of fair blue skies,
Tell something of their story while
     My shuttle swiftly flies?
As I weave I’ll trace their journey,
     Devious, rough and wandering,
Ere they reached the silent region
     Where the night stars seem to sing.
When the myriads of them glitter
     Over peak and desert waste,
Crossing which the silent runner and
     The gaunt of co-yo-tees haste.
Shall I weave the zig-zag pathway
     Whence the sacred fire was born;
And interweave the symbol of the God
     Who brought the corn—
Of the Rain-god whose fierce anger
     Was appeased by sacred meal,
And the trust that my brave people
     In him evermore shall feel?
All this perhaps I might weave
     As the woof goes to and fro,
Wafting as my shuttle passes,
     Humble hopes, and joys and care,
Weaving closely, weaving slowly,
     While I watch the pattern grow;
Showing something of my life:
     To the Spirit God a prayer.
Grateful that he brought my people
     To the land of silence vast
Taught them arts of peace and ended
     All their wanderings of the past.
Deftly now I trace the figures,
     This of joy and that of woe;
And I leave an open gate-way
     For the Dau to come and go.