previous next


Metacom, or Philip, the chief of the Wampanoags, was the most powerful and sagacious Sachem who ever made war upon the English.

Red as the banner which enshrouds
     The warrior-dead, when strife is done, [344]
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— [345]
“This night the Vision-Spirit hath
     Unrolled the scroll of fate before me;
And ere the sunrise cometh, Death
     Will wave his dusky pinion o'er me!
Nay, start not—well I know thy faith—
     Thy weapon now may keep its sheath;
But, when the bodeful morning breaks,
     And the green forest widely wakes
Unto the roar of English thunder,
     Then trusted brother, be it thine
To burst upon the foeman's line,
     And rend his serried strength asunder.
Perchance thyself and yet a few
     Of faithful ones may struggle through,
And, rallying on the wooded plain,
     Strike deep for vengeance once again,
And offer up in pale-face blood
     An offering to the Indian's God.”

A musket shot—a sharp, quick yell—
     And then the stifled groan of pain,
Told that another red man fell,—
     And blazed a sudden light again
Across that kingly brow and eye,
     Like lightning on a clouded sky,—
And a low growl, like that which thrills
     The hunter of the Eastern hills,
Burst through clenched teeth and rigid lip—
     And, when the great chief spoke again
His deep voice shook beneath its rein,
     As wrath and grief held fellowship.

“Brother I methought when as but now
     I pondered on my nation's wrong,
With sadness on his shadowy brow
     My father's spirit passed along!
He pointed to the far south-west,
     Where sunset's gold was growing dim,
And seemed to beckon me to him,
     And to the forests of the blest.—
My father loved the, white men, when
     They were but children, shelterless,
For his great spirit at distress
     Melted to woman's tenderness—
Nor was it given him to know
     That children whom he cherished then
Would rise at length, like armed men,
     To work is people's overthrow.
Yet thus it is;—the God before
     Whose awful shrine the pale ones bow
Hath frowned upon, and given o'er
     The red man to the stranger now!

[346] A few more moons, and there will be
     No gathering to the council tree;
The scorched earth—the blackened log—
     The naked bones of warriors slain,
Be the sole relics which remain
     Of the once mighty Wampanoag!
The forests of our hunting-land,
     With all their old and solemn green,
Will bow before the Spoiler's axe—
     The plough displace the hunter's tracks,
And the tall prayer-house steeple stand
     Where the Great Spirit's shrine hath been!

Yet, brother, from this awful hour
     The dying curse of Metacom
Shall linger with abiding power
     Upon the spoilers of my home.
The fearful veil of things to come,
     By Kitchtan's hand is lifted from
The shadows of the embryo years;
     And I can see more clearly through
Than ever visioned Powwah did,
     For all the future comes unbid
Yet welcome to my tranced view,
     As battle-yell to warrior-ears!
From stream and lake and hunting-hill
     Our tribes may vanish like a dream,
And even my dark curse may seem
     Like idle winds when Heaven is still,
No bodeful harbinger of ill;
     But, fiercer than the downright thunder,
When yawns the mountain-rock asunder,
     And riven pine and knotted oak
Are reeling to the fearful stroke,
     That curse shall work its master's will!
The bed of yon blue mountain stream
     Shall pour a darker tide than rain—
The sea shall catch its blood-red stain,
     And broadly on its banks shall gleam
The steel of those who should be brothers;
     Yea, those whom one fond parent nursed
Shall meet in strife, like fiends accursed,
     And trample down the once loved form,
While yet with breathing passion warm,
     As fiercely as they would another's! “

The morning star sat dimly on
     The lighted eastern horizon—
The deadly glare of levelled gun
     Came streaking through the twilight hame
And naked to its reddest blaze,
     A hundred warriors sprang in view;
One dark red arm was tossed on high, [347]
     One giant shout came hoarsely through
The clangor and the charging cry,
     Just as across the scattering gloom,
Red as the naked hand of Doom,
     The English volley hurtled by—
The arm—the voice of Metacom!—
     One piercing shriek--one vengeful yell,
Sent like an arrow to the sky,
     Told when the hunter-monarch fell!


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
White (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1829 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: