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Trail of Tears

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Below is the poem entitled Trail of Tears which was written by poet Charles Henderson. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Trail of Tears

From the year of Eighteen ninety,
survives a sad birthday tale.
As told by Private John Burnett,
eighty years old when it was told. 
Of needless deaths of Cherokee,
inflicted by relocation.

In Eighteen hundred thirty eight,
President Jackson did decree,
all the Cherokee must move west,
and give up their lands to white men.
Even though he, Junaluska,
had saved Jackson’s life in battle.

On chill morning of October,
six hundred forty five wagons,
took the twelve thousand Indians.
Chief John Ross led all in prayer.
They were literate, Christians all,
with written language, newspaper,
and Constitution like our form.

Morning, November seventeen,
terrible storm of sleet and snow.
No fire to warm the ground below.
Dying of pneumonia from the cold,
a trail of death, four thousand souls.
Heart wrenching grief for those alive.

Eighteen ninety, still near the deed.
Too near for young people to know,
the enormity of the crime.
“Murder is murder however,
or whomever perpetrated.
By the villain skulking at night,
or to martial music by day.” 

“Murder is murder and who answers.
Who must explain the streams of blood,
flowing through Indian country.
Who will mourn the four thousand graves,
which silently are trail markers.
I wish I could forget it all.
Thus ends my birthday story here.”

Based on a true record of John Burnett’s story of his life with
the Cherokee and his accompaniment on “The Trail of Tears”.

© May 14 2010 For Deborah’s” theme of western movement” contest

Copyright © Charles Henderson

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  1. Date: 5/22/2010 6:45:00 AM
    Nicely written on one of our sad moments in the true west. Congrats on your work and the win! Dan C

  1. Date: 5/21/2010 8:19:00 PM
    Congratulations Charles on your success in Deb's contest. Agape, Moses

  1. Date: 5/21/2010 4:30:00 AM
    Congratulations on your win in Deborah's contest "Giddy Up" Charles. Love, Carol

  1. Date: 5/20/2010 11:29:00 AM
    A sad and all too true tale. Thanks for writing it and Congratualtions. Love, Joyce

  1. Date: 5/20/2010 9:05:00 AM
    Wonderful Epic Charles, and similar events happened to many of the indigenious tribes. Many congratulations on your win in Deborah's fine contest >> James

  1. Date: 5/17/2010 10:11:00 PM
    SOUP MAIL...luv..

  1. Date: 5/15/2010 12:28:00 PM
    Wow, Charles, I have a poem by the same name, but it's not posted here. Yours has more historical information and I really like the approach you took. Good luck in the contest! I answered your blog question. Yes, the contest will close automatically when the stipulated number of entries are received. Have fun judging! You have some awesome poems to review. Love, Carolyn

  1. Date: 5/15/2010 10:22:00 AM
    My entry is an Acrostic " Heart Of The Pioneer"~Give it a go if you'd like~Rick

  1. Date: 5/15/2010 10:13:00 AM
    The trials and tribulations ! a very enthralling write indeed~The natives , such a spiritual creation and a lose for them of great proportion~thanks~~~~~~You've got mail~Rick

  1. Date: 5/14/2010 6:53:00 PM
    Absolutely brilliant write Charles ..good luck in Debbie's new contest... my entry is Catalog of the Cowboy... SOUP MAIL...luv.. "Sweetheart"

  1. Date: 5/14/2010 6:43:00 PM
    A nice tribute John Burnett

  1. Date: 5/14/2010 10:21:00 AM
    You got it now...crystal clear and most excellent! smooch!

  1. Date: 5/14/2010 5:57:00 AM
    Thank you Charles for this ~~~MAGNIFICENT~~~ write. I hope to see your name in lights with this one. Love, oo day nu tee ah wee (Gentle Deer) aka Carol

  1. Date: 5/14/2010 5:53:00 AM
    So glad to hear this tale re told! We should never forget....and humans should stop doing this sort of thing or stop laying claim to the word "human". Soup mail! Light & Love

  1. Date: 5/14/2010 4:54:00 AM
    Great reminder that all is not fair in life...Keep the creative pen flowing..Sara

  1. Date: 5/14/2010 4:54:00 AM
    well done, thank you for the read,..p.d.