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[88]

II. the Bashaba1

Lift we the twilight curtains of the Past,
     And, turning from familiar sight and sound,
Sadly and full of reverence let us cast
     A glance upon Tradition's shadowy ground,
Led by the few pale lights which, glimmering round
     That dim, strange land of Eld, seem dying fast;
And that which history gives not to the eye,
     The faded coloring of Time's tapestry,
Let Fancy, with her dream-dipped brush, supply.

Roof of bark and walls of pine,
     Through whose chinks the sunbeams shine,
Tracing many a golden line
     On the ample floor within;
Where, upon that earth-floor stark,
     Lay the gaudy mats of bark,
With the bear's hide, rough and dark,
     And the red-deer's skin,

Window-tracery, small and slight,
     Woven of the willow white,
Lent a dimly checkered light;
     And the night-stars glimmered down,
Where the lodge-fire's heavy smoke,
     Slowly through an opening broke,
In the low roof, ribbed with oak,
     Sheathed with hemlock brown.

Gloomned behind the changeless shade
     By the solemn pine-wood made;
Through the rugged palisade,
     In the open foreground planted,

1 Bashaba was the name which the Indians of New England gave to two or three of their principal chiefs, to whom all their inferior sagamores acknowledged allegiance. Passaconaway seems to have been one of these chiefs. His residence was at Pennacook. (mass. Hist. Coll., vol. III. pp. 21, 22.) ‘he was regarded,’ says Hubbard, ‘as a great sorcerer, and his fame was widely spread. It was said of him that he could cause a green leaf to grow in winter, trees to dance, water to burn, etc. He was, undoubtedly, one of those shrewd and powerful men whose achievements are always regarded by a barbarous people as the result of supernatural aid. The Indians gave to such the names of Powahs or Panisees.’

‘the Panisees are men of great courage and wisdom, and to these the Devill appeareth more familiarly than to others.’ —Winslow's Relation.

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