[Josephine.] ‘Osceola.’ Published in The Hudson River Chronicle (Sing-Sing, NY) on 4 April 1838, after the death of Osceola on 30 January of that year, during the Second Seminole War. The author, “Josephine,” is unidentified.
Chief of the pale arid lofty brow,
Thou eagle of thy race,
We miss thee in the forest now,
We miss thee in the chase.
Warrior true, why comest thou not
We look for thy return—
Still In this calm sequestered spot
Our council fires burn.
They burn, but not as when ye went
To seek the Pale Pace camp;
The fading brands are almost spent,
The air is chill and damp.
A gloom is on the Everglades,
On streamlet, flow’r, and tree;
Spirits mean sighing through the shades
A sad lament for thee.
A cloud is on our souls, 0 Chief!
We dream of thee in chains;
We see thee die in ling’ring grief,
Far from thy native plains.
We know our fears are false and vain—
The Pale Face chief is brave:
He’d scorn to fling so foul a stain
On the broad folds that wave
Triumphantly above his head,
His country’s pride and boast,
Left by Columbia’s martyred dead,
Pure as their own bright host.
Great Spirit! O watch o’er thy child!
Why hidest thou thy face?
Remember that thou once hast smiled
On our abandoned race.
Thus through the night the watching chief
Sighed to the list’ning air
A dirge of mingled hope and grief,
Of agony and prayer.
And, Osceola, where art thou—
Bird of the wild-wood free—
White chief, and sage, and prophet, bow
Beneath the council tree!
Where sentries pace with equal tread
The guard-room’s narrow round,
Drooping o’er hopes forever fled,
The captive chief lay bound.
Not many suns have sank to rest
Since that sad night of gloom;
Yet hast thou found on earth’s soft breast,
Brave Seminole, a tomb.
Thy lofty spirit loathed the chain
That fettered it to life;
And Heaven that weeps its children’s pain,
In mercy closed the strife.
Away beyond death’s darksome sea
The hunting grounds are fair,
And far from wrongs and tyranny,
Thy tribe shalt meet thee there.