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And near him the she-wolf stirred the brake,
And the rattlesnake breathed in his ear,
Till he starting cried, from his dream awake,
* Oh! when shall I see the dusky lake,
And the white canoe of my dear!'
He saw the lake—and the meteor bright
Quick o'er its surface played.
'Welcome,' he said, ' my dear one's light!'
And the dim shore echoed for many a night
The name of the death-cold maid!
Till he formed a boat of the birchen bark,
Which carried him off from the shore;
Far he followed the meteor spark;
The winds were high, and the clouds were dark,
And the boat returned no more!
But oft from the Indian hunter's camp,
This lover and maid so true,
Are seen, at the hour of midnight damp,
To cross the lake by the fire-fly lamp,
And paddle their white canoe!
I never cast a flower away,
The gift of one who cared for me,
A little flower,—a faded flower,—
But it was done reluctantly.
I never looked a last adieu
To things familiar, but my heart
Shrank with a feeling almost pain,
Even from their lifelessness to part.
I never spoke the word farewell!
But with an utterance faint and broken;
A heart-sick yearning for the time
When it should never more be spoken.
DEATH AND BURIAL OF A CHILD AT SEA.
My boy refused his food, forgot to play,
And sickened on the waters, day by day;
He smiled more seldom on his mother's smile,
He prattled less, in accents void of guile,
Of that wild land, beyond the golden wave
Where I, not he, was doomed to be a slave;
Cold o'er his limbs, the listless languor grew;
Paleness came o'er his eye of placid blue:
Pale mourned the lily where the rose had died,
And timid, trembling, came he to my side.
He was my all on earth. Oh! who can speak
The anxious mother's too prophetic woe,
Who sees death feeding on her dear child's cheek,
And strives in vain to think it is not so?
Ab! many a sad and sleepless night I passed
O'er his couch, listening in the pausing blast,
While on his brow, more sad from hour to hour,
Drooped wan dejection, like a fading flower!
At length my boy seemed better, and I slept—
Oh! soundly!—but, methought, my mother wept
O'er her poor Emma; and, in accents low,
Said, ' Ah! why do I weep, and weep in vain
For one so loved, so lost? Emma, thy pain
Draws to a close! even now is rent in twain
The loveliest link that binds thy breast to woe—
Soon, broken heart, we soon shall meet again!'
Then o'er my face her freezing hand she crossed,
And bending kissed me with her lip of frost.
I waked; and at my side—oh! still and cold I—
Oh! what a tale that dreadful dullness told!
Shrieking, I started up, in terror wild;
Alas! and had I lived to dread my child?
Eager I snatched him from his swinging bed,
His limbs were stiff—he moved not—he was dead I
Oh! let me weep !—what mother would not weep,
To see her child committed to the deep?
No mournful flowers, by weeping fondness laid,
Nor pink, nor rose, drooped on his breast displayed;
Nor half-blown daisy in his little hand :—
Wide was the field around, but 'twas not land.
Enamoured death, with sweetly pensive grace,
Was awful beauty to his silent face.
No more his sad eye looked me into tears!
Closed was that eye beneath his pale cold brow;
And on his calm lips, which had lost their glow,
But which, though pale, seemed half unclosed to speak,
Loitered a smile, like moonlight on the snow.
I gazed upon him still—not wild with fears—
Gone were my fears, and present was despair!
But as I gazed, a little lock of hair,
Stirred, by the breeze, played, trembling on his cheek;
Oh, God! my heart!—I thought life still was there.
But to commit him to the watery grave,
O'er which the winds, unwearied mourners, rave—
One, who strove darkly sorrow's sob to stay,
Upraised the body; thrice I bade him stay;
For still my wordless woe had much to say,
And still I bent and gazed, and gazing wept.
At last my sisters, with humane constraint,
Held me, and I was calm as dying saint;
While that stern weeper lowered into the sea
My ill-starred boy! deep—buried deep, he slept.
And then I looked to heaven in agony,
And prayed to end my pilgrimage of pain,
That I might meet my beauteous boy again!
Oh! had he lived to reach this wretched land,
And then expired, I would have blessed the strand I
But where my poor boy lies I may not lie;
I cannot come with broken heart to sigh
O'er his loved dust, and strew with flowers his turf
His pillow hath no cover but the surf;
I may not pour the soul-drop from mine eye
Near his cold bed: he slumbers in the wave!
Oh! I will love the sea, because it is his grave!