Behold the proud chieftain, whose indian brow
Is knit with a fearful intent.
His spirit untaught in compassion to bow,
Or a higher on earth than himself to allow,
On the blood of the white man is bent.
That chief is Powhattan! His barbarous throng
With savage decorum have met,
And in the dark council been solemn and long;
They're danced the rude war-dance; they've sung the wild song,
And SMITH, thy last moment is set!
The monarch has given the awful command,
The prisoner before him is led
To the stone, his death-pillow, amid the strong band
The weapon is up in a fearful, red hand,
And ready to fall on his head!
When lo! there darts forth from that terrible crowd
A female's young, beauteous form,
Like the flash that breaks out, throwing off its black shroud,
And leaps to the earth from the fold of a cloud,
Ere the thunder-peal sounds, in the storm.
But not, like the lightning, to kill or to scath,
Comes the bright POCAHONTAS! She flies,
Like pity's kind angel, with tears on her path,
To fall as a shield from her father's dread wrath,
On the victim who under it lies!
Her arms o'er the form of the prisoner are thrown;
Round his neck falls her long, jetty hair;
On his head lowly laid she has pillowed her own,
While her voice rends the air with its piteous tone,
As she shrieks—'Father, father, forbear!
'Spare! spare but his life! 't is thy daughter who cries!
Her head must receive thy first blow!
If now by the hand of Powhattan he dies,
The same shade for ever shall darken our eyes;
My blood o'er the white man shall flow!'
The sachem's proud spirit, which lately so wild
Came forth in the flashes of fire
That lit his stern eye, of its purpose beguiled,
Is melted and tamed by the tears of his child,
Who, weeping, looks up to her sire.
'Rise, child of Powhattan!' he cries, 'it is meet
That mercy should conquer in thee;
My own bird of beauty; thy wing was too fleet!
Thy glance is an arrow—thy voice is too sweet!
Rise up, for the white man is free!'
Now harmless the death-weapon drops to the ground
From the grasp of the chieftain's strong hand.
He lifts up his child, and the victim's unbound,
While sounds of strange gladness are passing around
Where the plumed, painted savages stand.
The soul of a princess indeed was enshrined
In her, who the forest-ground trod;
And since, by the faith of the Christian refined,
She has given her brow at the font to be signed
'REBECCA, a daughter of God.'