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Burial of the Minnisink

by
 On sunny slope and beechen swell,
The shadowed light of evening fell;
And, where the maple's leaf was brown,
With soft and silent lapse came down,
The glory, that the wood receives,
At sunset, in its golden leaves.
Far upward in the mellow light Rose the blue hills.
One cloud of white, Around a far uplifted cone, In the warm blush of evening shone; An image of the silver lakes, By which the Indian's soul awakes.
But soon a funeral hymn was heard Where the soft breath of evening stirred The tall, gray forest; and a band Of stern in heart, and strong in hand, Came winding down beside the wave, To lay the red chief in his grave.
They sang, that by his native bowers He stood, in the last moon of flowers, And thirty snows had not yet shed Their glory on the warrior's head; But, as the summer fruit decays, So died he in those naked days.
A dark cloak of the roebuck's skin Covered the warrior, and within Its heavy folds the weapons, made For the hard toils of war, were laid; The cuirass, woven of plaited reeds, And the broad belt of shells and beads.
Before, a dark-haired virgin train Chanted the death dirge of the slain; Behind, the long procession came Of hoary men and chiefs of fame, With heavy hearts, and eyes of grief, Leading the war-horse of their chief.
Stripped of his proud and martial dress, Uncurbed, unreined, and riderless, With darting eye, and nostril spread, And heavy and impatient tread, He came; and oft that eye so proud Asked for his rider in the crowd.
They buried the dark chief; they freed Beside the grave his battle steed; And swift an arrow cleaved its way To his stern heart! One piercing neigh Arose, and, on the dead man's plain, The rider grasps his steed again.

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