The Indian Girl's Lament

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An Indian girl was sitting where
  Her lover, slain in battle, slept;
Her maiden veil, her own black hair,
  Came down o'er eyes that wept;
And wildly, in her woodland tongue,
This sad and simple lay she sung:

"I've pulled away the shrubs that grew
  Too close above thy sleeping head,
And broke the forest boughs that threw
  Their shadows o'er thy bed,
That, shining from the sweet south-west,
The sunbeams might rejoice thy rest.

"It was a weary, weary road
  That led thee to the pleasant coast,
Where thou, in his serene abode,
  Hast met thy father's ghost:
Where everlasting autumn lies
On yellow woods and sunny skies.

"Twas I the broidered mocsen made,
  That shod thee for that distant land;
'Twas I thy bow and arrows laid
  Beside thy still cold hand;
Thy bow in many a battle bent,
Thy arrows never vainly sent.

"With wampum belts I crossed thy breast,
  And wrapped thee in the bison's hide,
And laid the food that pleased thee best,
  In plenty, by thy side,
And decked thee bravely, as became
A warrior of illustrious name.

"Thou'rt happy now, for thou hast passed
  The long dark journey of the grave,
And in the land of light, at last,
  Hast joined the good and brave;
Amid the flushed and balmy air,
The bravest and the loveliest there.

"Yet, oft to thine own Indian maid
  Even there thy thoughts will earthward stray,--
To her who sits where thou wert laid,
  And weeps the hours away,
Yet almost can her grief forget,
To think that thou dost love her yet.

"And thou, by one of those still lakes
  That in a shining cluster lie,
On which the south wind scarcely breaks
  The image of the sky,
A bower for thee and me hast made
Beneath the many-coloured shade.

"And thou dost wait and watch to meet
  My spirit sent to join the blessed,
And, wondering what detains my feet
  From the bright land of rest,
Dost seem, in every sound, to hear
The rustling of my footsteps near."

© William Cullen Bryant