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A broken mass of crimson clouds
Hung over the departed sun.
The shadow of the western hill
Crept swiftly down, and darkly still,
As if a sullen wave of night
Were rushing on the pale twilight;
The forest-openings grew more dim,
As glimpses of the arching blue
And waking stars came softly through
The rifts of many a giant limb.
Above the wet and tangled swamp
White vapors gathered thick and damp,
And through their cloudy curtaining
Flapped many a brown and dusky wing—--
Pinions that fan the moonless dun,
But fold them at the rising sun!
Beneath the closing veil of night,
And leafy bough and curling fog,
With his few warriors ranged in sight—
Scarred relics of his latest fight—
Rested the fiery Wampanoag.
He leaned upon his loaded gun,
Warm with its recent work of death,
And, save the struggling of his breath,
That, slow and hard and long-repressed,
Shook the damp folds around his breast,
An eye that was unused to scan
The sterner moods of that dark man!
Had deemed his tall and silent form
With hidden passion fierce and warm,
With that fixed eye, as still and dark
As clouds which veil their lightning spark,
That of some forest-champion,
Whom sudden death had passed upon—
A giant frozen into stone!
Son of the throned Sachem!—Thou,
The sternest of the forest kings,—
Shall the scorned pale-one trample now,
Unambushed on thy mountain's brow,
Yea, drive his vile and hated plough
Among thy nation's holy things,
Crushing the warrior-skeleton
In scorn beneath his armed heel,
And not a hand be left to deal
A kindred vengeance fiercely back,
And cross in blood the Spoiler's track?
He turned him to his trustiest one,
The old and war-tried Annawon—
“Brother!” —The favored warrior stood
In hushed and listening attitude—
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