October’s leaf was sere;
The day was dark and drear.
Wild war was loosed in rage o’er our quiet country then;
When at Moravian town,
Where the little Thames flows down,
In the net of battle caught was Proctor and his men.
Caught in an evil plight,
When he’d rather march than fight,
Every bit of British pluck and resolution gone.
And sternly standing near,
As a British brigadier,
Stood Tecumthe, our ally, the forests’ bravest son.
A prince, a leader born,
His dark eye flashed with scorn,
He said: “My father, listen, there’s rumours from afar,
Of mishaps, and mistakes,
Of disasters on the lakes,
My father need not hide the mischances of the war.
“My braves have set their feet,
Where two great rivers meet;
We went upon the war-path; we raised the battle-song;
We met in deadly fight,
The Yengees in their might,
Till the waters of the Wabash dyed crimson flowed along.
“They ask us, in their pride,
To idly stand aside,
To be false to our allies, and neutral in this war;
They think that Indian men
Will never think again
Of wrongs by Yengee spoilers, how false their treaties are.
“Allies both firm and true,
For our Father’s sake to you,
Our Great Father round whose throne the mighty waters meet;
When din of battle’s high,
Only coward curs will fly;
It is not Shawnee braves show foes their flying feet,”
“This is insolence to me,”
Said Proctor bitterly.
“But a paltry leader,” said the brave red-skinned ally
“We stand in hopeless fray,
To meet defeat today;
A shadow falls around me, my fate is drawing nigh.”
High-hearted Indian chief
No thought of fear or grief
Stilled the swellings of his heart, tamed the lightning of his glance
Without lordship, without land,
“Lord alone of his right hand,”
Of a heart that never beat retreat when duty said advance.
He had looked on battle oft,
Now his eagle glance grew soft,
And who can tell what sights his prophetic vision saw
Events were drawing near,
And he was a mighty seer,
Even greater than the prophet, the grim Elskwatawa.
For, in a waking dream,
He saw forest, vale and stream,
Which, by force or fraud, the white race wrung from doomed red men.
“Old things are passed,” he said,
“No blood that can be shed,
Will ever give us back our broad hunting-grounds again”
“Over the burial mound,
Over the hunting-ground,
Over the forest wigwam the greedy white wave flows,
In treachery, or wrath,
They sweep us from their path,
Backward, and ever backward, beyond Sierra snows
“We tried to stem the wave,
We have been bold and brave,
We held the losing cause, the Great Spirit hid his face,
Our nation’s place is gone,
The white wave will roll on,
Until from sea to sea we have no abiding place
“Although we do not stand
To do battle for our land,
The allies that we fight for, though white men, do not lie,
Their foes are ours, stand fast,
This fight shall be my last,
‘Tis fitting, on the war-path, the Shawnee chief should die
“Where we have pitched our camp,
Red blood shall dye the swamp,
The battle to the swift, the victory to the strong,
But be it as it will,
My braves shall vanish still,
Slain by pale face customs, snared by their treacherous tongue”
He turned, where in their pride
Stood his warriors by his side,
For them to-morrow’s sun might shine, to-morrow’s breezes blow,
“But Tecumthe’s lot is cast,
This fight shall be his last,
And they will do my wish,” he said, “when I am lying low”
Wyandot’s chieftain grave,
Young and lithe, hold and brave,
Stood by Tecumthe, waiting the beginning of the fray;
Tecumthe silence broke,
And thus to him he spoke,
“My brother from this onset I’ll never come away.
“This scarf of crimson grand,
By brave Sir Isaac’s hand,
Was bound round me with praise, when his heart towards
me was stirred;
I belt it around you,
My brother brave and true,
Think about Tecumthe, and remember his last word.
“When on the red war-path,
War fiercely to the death,
Be pitiful and tender to the helpless and the fair,
I fought–have many slain,
But not a single stain
Of blood of maids or children dims the good sword I wear.
“Brother, a forest maid
Within my wigwam stayed,
She is called before me, far beyond the glowing west,
This battle lost or won,
You’ll take my little son,
Train him a Shawnee brave, let him be in deer skin drest.
“When grown a warrior strong,
To feel his nation’s wrong,
When he is fierce in battle, and wise in council fire,
Worthy my sword to wear,
Then with a father’s care,
Let thy hand belt upon him the good sword of his sire.
“Tell him, I lived and fought
For my nation and had not
A thought but for their good on resentment for their wrong,
Nor ever wished to have
Any gift the pale-face gave
Nor learned a single word of the fatal pale-face tongue
‘Tell him, he is the last
Of a race great in the past,
Before the foot of white men had stepped upon our strand
And if fate will not give
Any place where they may live
Let him die among his people and for his people’s land.
‘I strip this coat off here
Of a British Brigadier
It is a costly garment with gold lace grand and brave,
The Shawnee chief is best,
In shirt of deerskin drest,
Not in pale-face gift they’ll find me who lay me in the grave.
“I have lost all but life
To meet in mortal strife,
To kill many, that the white squaws weep as ours have done,
To lie among the dead,
With garments bloody red,
And go to happy hunting grounds beyond the setting sun.
‘This will be, Wyandot brave,
You’ll give to me a grave,
In dimness of the forest, in earth my mother’s breast,
Each tall tree a sentinel,
Will guard the secret well
Of where you laid Tecumthe down to his lasting rest’
After the fatal fight
The strife became a flight
They found the chief Tecumthe lying still among the slain
Never to fight again.
Ah! little recked he then
That dastard white men outraged his body to their shame.
After the headlong flight,
In the dark dead of night,
They came, from further outrage his loved remains to save
Within the forest deep
They laid him down to sleep;
And the forest guards the secret! no man knows his grave.
Our land, our pride and boast,
Spreads now from coast to coast,
Stands up a great Dominion among the ruling powers.
For us this chieftain fought,
An ally unbribed, unbought;
We guard his name and fame in this Canada of ours.
We have grown strong and bold,
Able to have and hold;
Our allies the red men are cared for with our care.
East or in the wild Nor-west,
In peace they hunt or rest;
No man their lands may covet because they’re broad and fair.
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Based on Keywords: squaws, high-hearted, brigadier, pale-face, hunting-grounds, mischances, hunting-ground, proctor, wabash, battle-song, swellings