Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
An Indian Story
By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
 
I KNOW where the timid fawn abides
  In the depths of the shaded dell,
Where the leaves are broad and the thicket hides,
With its many stems and its tangled sides,
  From the eye of the hunter well.        5
 
I know where the young May violet grows,
  In its lone and lowly nook,
On the mossy bank, where the larch tree throws
Its broad dark boughs, in solemn repose,
  Far over the silent brook.        10
 
And that timid fawn starts not with fear
  When I steal to her secret bower,
And that young May violet to me is dear,
And I visit the silent streamlet near,
  To look on the lovely flower.        15
 
Thus Maquon sings as he lightly walks
  To the hunting ground on the hills;
’T is a song of his maid of the woods and rocks,
With her bright black eyes and long black locks,
  And voice like the music of rills.        20
 
He goes to the chase—but evil eyes
  Are at watch in the thicker shades;
For she was lovely that smiled on his sighs,
And he bore, from a hundred lovers, his prize,
  The flower of the forest maids.        25
 
The boughs in the morning wind are stirr’d,
  And the woods their song renew,
With the early carol of many a bird,
And the quicken’d tune of the streamlet heard
  Where the hazels trickle with dew.        30
 
And Maquon has promised his dark-hair’d maid,
  Ere eve shall redden the sky,
A good red deer from the forest shade,
That bounds with the herd through grove and glade,
  At her cabin door shall lie.        35
 
The hollow woods, in the setting sun,
  Ring shrill with the fire-bird’s lay;
And Maquon’s sylvan labors are done,
And his shafts are spent, but the spoil they won
  He bears on his homeward way.        40
 
He stops near his bower—his eye perceives
  Strange traces along the ground—
At once, to the earth his burden he heaves,
He breaks through the veil of boughs and leaves,
  And gains its door with a bound.        45
 
But the vines are torn on its walls that leant,
  And all from the young shrubs there
By struggling hands have the leaves been rent,
And there hangs, on the sassafras broken and bent,
  One tress of the well known hair.        50
 
But where is she who at this calm hour,
  Ever watch’d his coming to see,
She is not at the door, nor yet in the bower,
He calls—but he only hears on the flower
  The hum of the laden bee.        55
 
It is not a time for idle grief,
  Nor a time for tears to flow,
The horror that freezes his limbs is brief—
He grasps his war axe and bow, and a sheaf
  Of darts made sharp for the foe.        60
 
And he looks for the print of the ruffian’s feet,
  Where he bore the maiden away;
And he darts on the fatal path more fleet
Than the blast that hurries the vapor and sleet
  O’er the wild November day.        65
 
’T was early summer when Maquon’s bride
  Was stolen away from his door;
But at length the maples in crimson are dyed,
And the grape is black on the cabin side,—
  And she smiles at his hearth once more.        70
 
But far in a pine grove, dark and cold,
  Where the yellow leaf falls not,
Nor the autumn shines in scarlet and gold,
There lies a hillock of fresh dark mould,
  In the deepest gloom of the spot.        75
 
And the Indian girls, that pass way,
  Point out the ravisher’s grave;—
“And how soon to the bower she loved,” they say,
“Return’d the maid that was borne away
  From Maquon, the fond and the brave.”        80
 
 
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