Isaac McLellan

1806-1899 / the United States

The Haunted Wood

I ofttimes come to this lonely place,
And forget the stir of my restless race;
Forget the woes of human life,
The bitter pang and the constant strife,
The angry word and the cruel taunt,
The sight and the sound of guilt and want,
And the frequent tear by the widow shed,
When her infants ask in vain for bread.
All these I put from my mind aside,
And forget the offence of worldly pride.

It is said that the Spirits of buried men
Oft come to this wicked world again;
That the churchyard turf is often trod
By the unlaid tenants of tomb and sod,
That the midnight sea itself is swept,
By those who have long beneath it slept.
And they say of this old, mossy wood,
Whose hoary trunks have for ages stood,
That every knoll and dim-lit glade
Is haunted at night by its restless Shade.

It is told that an Indian King, whose name
Hath perished long from the scroll of fame,
And whose thousand warriors slumber low,
In equal rest, with the spear and bow,
Was wont to pursue the fallow deer,
And hold his feasts, and make merry here,
And seek his repose in the noontide heat,
By this noisy brook at my very feet-
And here, at the close of his sternest strife,
He finished his rude, and unquiet life.

It is said that on moonlight nights, the gleam
Of his battle Spear flits o'er this stream;
And they say there's a shiver along the grass
Where the restless feet of the Spectre pass,
And a rustle of leaves in the thicket's gloom
When he nods his dusky eagle plume.
And, methinks, I have heard his war-horn bray,
Like the call of waters far away;
And the arrow whistle along the glade
Where the chieftain's giant bones are laid.

And yonder, where those gray willows lave
Their silvery tassels beneath the wave,
By the hollow valley's lonely tide,
You may find the grave of a Suicide.
And 'tis said, at the noon of a dewy night,
When the hills are touch'd with the silver light
That a spirit leans o'er that lonely turf,
Like a snowy wreath of the ocean surf,
And a sound like a passionate mourner's cry,
Will often startle the passer by.
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