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And far beyond, the clouds around them furled, Heaves each long mountain range---a rampart of the world.
Upon the naked promontory's brow
That overhung the wilderness below,
The travellers paused to look upon the scene.
The wife upon her husband's arm did lean,
And he upon his rifle, silently.
Hushed even was happy childhood's morning glee.
The vastness of the scene weighed down the sense,
And man felt nothing but his impotence,
And His Supremacy who reigns alone,
"The earth his footstool, and the heaven his throne."
Sublimest was the awful silence there,
Hushing the very progress of the air.
Through the deep vale below a river flowed,
Falling, at times, in silver sheets, then hid
The o'erhanging wilderness amid—
Now hurrying between the jagged rocks and rude;-
Yet not a murmur rose to where they stood.
The infrequent clouds drifted athwart the sky,
Ever and ever floating silently.
Upon the topmost crag, splintered and bare,
Its angles glittering in the morning's glare,
With an unsteady wing
And naked talons balancing,
An eagle sat and screamed t' the silence ;-hill, And wood, and silent cloud, echoed his accents shrill.
But here they may not pause. The mid-day's sun
Sees them still toiling up the mountain's side
On which their early morning's march begun.
But the descending day
Shone on another prospect vast and wide.
From the last mountain range, before them lay,
Stretching with untouched forests to the West,
The valley where their weary feet shall rest.
Night on the mountains! Through a sheltered nook,
Half gorge, half valley, flowed a mountain brook.
Beside it-the old monarchs of the wood--
A few huge oaks in lonely grandeur stood.
Around their aged roots the quiet stream
Lapping and eddying on did ever flow;
Through their green arches many a broken gleam
Of moonlight fell upon the grass below.
Here paused our way-farers-sheltered alike
From mountain winds and from the Indian's gaze;--
Some tend the unharnessed teams, while others strike
A hasty fire, that kindling in its leaves,
A moment to the earth in damp smoke cleaves,
Then shoots in tongues of flame into the haze,
Till all the woodland aisles-like leafy caves-
Start out distinct and warm toward the blaze.
Their tethered horses plentifully fed,
Their wagons ranged to form a barricade,
The evening meal is spread upon the earth;--
And soon are heard commands and jests and mirth,
Low-voiced-man's voice cannot be loud
When God is looking on him from His cloud,
And on His forests, whose green tops are stirred
By freshening winds, the angels of his Word.
Their hasty meal is o'er;-their nightly guard
Is set upon the neighboring hill;-ill starred
Is he, who thus in turn is doomed to keep
His sleepy watch above his comrades' sleep.
The rest with rifles at their pillows lie,
Their feet stretched towards the fire, yet blazing high;
And soon wrapped in their cloaks, the sky their dome,
In dreams are wandering to their future home.
Their wives and children from the midnight airs,
Rest 'neath the shelter of their covered cars.
But sleep comes slowly to the mother's eyes
Who woos it underneath these stranger skies.
For unknown dangers haunt these mountain tops
So strangely still. If but an acorn drops
On the dead leaves, she starts from coming rest,
And strains her infant closer to her breast.
And if the fitful fire their depth illumes,
Strange terrors move within the forest glooms.
The blessed slumber sought-long sought in vain---
Comes slowly through a calenture of dreams.
Half sleeping, half awake, she sees again
Her father's roof shine in the morning's gleams---
A girl again, she 's on her native hills,
Treading their wayside paths---her cup she fills
Out of a spring---her native spring---as cool
From the earth's heart it gushed up fresh and full
At the elms root---then on its pebbly way,
Through the long summer day,
Beside the school-door of her girlish years did play.
What wonder, while a coming time appears
Thronged with vague terrors to a woman's fears,
That half awake and half in slumber, fast
Flits by the long procession of the Past.---
Its trials, sorrows, and its dead revive
And from the entombing shadows start and live.
Again her first love dawns---and marriage ties
Are knit, and brightly open life's young skies.
But trouble comes to her that comes to all.
The staff of fortune breaks---sickness---the pall
Clasping the loved, haunt her half closing eyes;
Again upon her child's calm, marble sleep,
She looks---beholds the grave receive its trust---
The sacred dust---
Till the last summons o'er the dead to keep.
Again she stands beside the little grave,
Feels the sharp grief so impotent to save,
Knows that her heart, where'er her steps may lead,
Will feel that spot her home, where sleeps her dead.
But light from heaven streamed down on that dark hour,
To soothe and melt away its wintry power.-
Faith spake with voice divine from out the sod,
The grave was her best teacher of a heaven and God.
And now her weary dreams soar, soothed and calm,
As floating on an atmosphere of balm.
The broad, bright Future is unveiled, and mild
And still from its far height, looks down her child,
With all of heaven beaming in its bland,
Seraphic face-already of the band,
And mingling with them in their blest abode,
Whose watching angels ever look on God.
Here with her loved one and her God repose
Her thoughts as slumber shuts her eyelid's close.
And safe the sleepers rest-the watching care
Of God's own presence fills the darkness there.
Though dangers press around, his parent guard
Is nearer and from every harm shall ward.
Strong with the night's repose, the dawn shall wake
Them once again, their forward course to take.
But Hope still lures, that Patriarchs led of yore
From the Euphrates' banks to Jordan's shore.
And soon, although of no mechanic's guild,
Of logs their first rude cabin homes they build.
Not without fear---still haunts the forest walk,
The savage with his gun and tomahawk;
And the first settler of Ohio's shade,
Around his home must drive the palisade.
He ploughs---his rifle hanging on his back ;---
With watching eyes he treads the woodland track.---
Even wives and children learn at length to share
The sentry's weary task. But vain their care!
When sleep is heaviest on the eyelids, shrill,
Fierce yells, the dark surrounding forests fill.
Roused from their even dreams of peace they start
And rush to guard their fort with sinking heart.
And silently their wives come and retire
To load again their rifles as they fire,
Giving their own still courage to the few
Champions, that make their bulwark firm and true.
They fall before the portholes where they stood---
'Tis woman's ready hand must staunch their blood.
Such then were woman's tasks;---and she who feared
A rustling leaf---so delicately reared---
When perils round hung darkening, started forth
A revelation---a celestial birth---
Prayers in her beating heart---tears in her eye-
An angel helper to her husband nigh.
And many a Lady Arabella, bred
In peaceful lands to fear a stranger's tread,
With heart so timid---in this deadly throng,
Was like the battle-hardened borderer strong.
But vain the strife---the blazing arrows cling
In the dry roof---the deadly bullets sing---
With fiendish yells from the encircling shade
The Indians rush and climb the palisade.---
O'er bleeding forms---through eddying flames they glide,
Where the survivors, fronting side by side,
Take their last stand to die. They strive in vain,
O'erborne, beat down and mercilessly slain,
Or, mangled---bound---from their dead kindred torn---
To their grim victors' darkest haunts are borne.
But soon fresh bands of roving emigrants
Upon the smouldering ruins rear their tents.