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Christian Ballads

By A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.

New York: D. Appleton, 1865.

St Sacrament.


SUMMER shower had swept the woods;
But when, from all the scene,
Rolled off at length the thunder-clouds,
And streamed the sunset sheen;
I came where my postilion raised
His horsewhip for a wand,
And said, There's Horicon, good sir,
And here's the Bloody Pond!


And don't you see yon low gray wall,
I With grass and bushes grown
Well, that's Fort George's palisade,
That many a storm has known:
But here's the Bloody Pond, where sleeps
Full many a soldier tall;
The spring, they say, was never pure
Since that red burial.


'Twas rare to see! That vale beneath;
That lake so calm and cool!
But mournful was each lily-wreath
Upon the turbid pool:
And--on, postilion, let us haste
To greener banks, I cried,
Oh, stay me not where man has stained
With brother's blood the tide!


An hour--and though the Even-star
Was chasing down the sun,
My boat was on thine azure wave,
Sweet, holy Horicon!
And woman's voice cheered on our bark,
With soft bewildering song,
While fire-flies darting through the dark
Went lighting us along.


Anon, that bask was on the beach,
And soon, I stood alone
Upon thy mouldering walls, Fort George,
So old, and ivy-grown.
At once, old tales of massacre
Were crowding on my soul,
And ghosts of ancient sentinels
Paced up the rocky knoll.


The shadowy hour was dark enow
For fancy's wild campaign,
And moments were impassioned hours
Of battle and of pain;
Each brake and thistle seemed alive
With fearful shapes of fight,
And up the feather'd scalp-locks rose
Of many a tawny sprite.


The Mohawk war-whoop howled agen
I heard St. Denys' charge,
And then the volleyed musketry
Of England and St. George.
The vale, the rocks, the cradling hills,
From echoing rank to rank,
Rung back the warlike rhetoric
Of Huron and of Frank.


So, keep thy name, Lake George, said I,
And bear to latest day,
The memory of our primal age,
And England's early sway;
And when Columbia's flag shall here
Her starry glories toss,
Be witness how our fathers fought
Beneath St. George's cross.


An hour again--and shone the moon
Above the mountain gray,
And there the pearly Horicon
Leap'd up like fountain spray;
The rippled wavelets seemed to dance,
And starlight seemed to sing;
I never saw, in all my life,
So gay and bright a thing.


And nought, save lulling Katydid,
Presumed the hush to mar;
And then it was, I longed to hear
Some light canoe afar;
I listened for the paddle's dip,
And in the moon-path clear,
I wished some Indian bark might glide,
With all its shapes of fear.


The Indian tales of Horicon
Were in my spirit now,
And Sachems of the olden time,
With more than Roman brow;
And all the forest histories
That make our young romance,
As in a wizard's glass, they moved
O'er that blue lake's expanse.


And keep thy name, clear Horicon,
Thine Indian name, said I;
'Tis meet, if thine old lords are dead,
Their fame should never die:
So keep thy name, sweet Horicon,
And be, to latest days,
Thine old free-dwellers' monument,
Their glory and their praise.


But morn was up, the beamy morn,
That sapphire lake above,
O'er waters blue as amethyst,
And innocent as love;
And there 'twas glorious to cool
The glowing breast and limb,
For never did a river-nymph
In sweeter ripples swim.


All day my boat was on the lake,
My thoughts upon its shore;
And emerald islets, one by one,
My joyous footsteps bore:
And where, 'mid green and mossy nests,
The sparks of quartz outshine,
I pulled young flowerets from the rocks,
And oped the crystal mine.


But when the breezy even came,
Again, outstretched I lay,
Upon the weedy battlements
Of that old ruin gray.
And all alone, 'twas beautiful
To muse, reclining there,
And feel the chill, so desolate,
Of half autumnal air.


Afar, afar, I cast mine eye
Adown the winding view:
The lake, the distance, and the sky,
Were all a heavenly blue:
And distant THUNG rose glorious
With colours for his crown,
And girt with clouds all rainbow-like,
And robes of green and brown.


A holy stillness, and a calm,
O'er me and nature stole,
And like a babe the waters slept
Within their pebbled bowl:
The gales that tossed my tangled hair,
And stirred the fragrant fern,
They only kissed the water's breast,
And smoothed its brimming urn.


And I was dreaming, though awake,
Such thoughts as made me sigh,
When, hark! the alder-bushes break,
And falls a footstep nigh!
A man of olden years came up;
A brown old yeoman he,
And on, through thorn and reedy bank,
He pushed his way to me.


He climbed the rough old demilune.
With iron-studded shoe,
Upturning, at his every stride,
Old flints and bullets too.
And arrow-heads that told a tale
Were in each earthy clod
That rumbled down the ravelin,
And crumbled as he trod.


Now tell me, tell me, yeoman good,
One tale to bear away,
With relics for the well-beloved,
Of this old ruin gray;
With flowers I've gathered round the mole,
One legend would I twine;
And you may chance remember one
That was some kin of mine!


Cans tell of Cleveland, or Monroe,
That fought for George's sake;
Or know you of the young Montcalm,
Or Uncas--on the lake?
He called it Lake St. Sacrament,
That yeoman brown and brave,
And thus, half soldier and half hind,
His simple story gave:


My father was a Frenchman bold,
Came o'er the bitter sea,
And here he poured his red heart's blood
For Louis' fleur-de-lys:
And yonder did he bid me swear
To say, when he was gone,
He drinks the Holy Sacrament
Who drinks of Horicon.


And then a lake-drop on his lip,
A tear-drop in his eye,
He blest his boy, his king, his GOD,
And turned his face to die:
A moment--and St. George's flag,
And England's musket roar,
They rapt me from my soldier-sire,
And I beheld no more.


He drinks the Holy Sacrament
Who drinks this crystal wave,
That Sacrament baptized his death,
And was, they say, his grave:
Adieu, adieu, thou stranger youth,
But say, when I am gone,
This lake is Lake St. Sacrament,
And not Lake Horicon.


And down the quarry stumbled he,
Ere I could hold him back;
But sounds of crackling alder-bush
Betrayed his sturdy track.
I saw the cottage-smoke upwreathe
Beneath the mountain shade,
And there I knew that old yeoman
His hermitage had made.


And there, when I had followed him,
He told me more and more,
The magic and the witchery
Of that romantic shore.
'Tis many a year, he said, since here
There was no Christian soul;
The Indian only, or the deer,
To taste these waters stole.


The savage, in the heat of noon,
Came panting through the wood
To stain the silver-pebbled beach,
And wash away his blood:
And there, where those tall aspens stand
They fought a horrid fray;
The very leaves that shaded them
Are trembling to this day.


But years rolled on--the sun beheld
Those savage chiefs agen,
All gathered as at council fires,
Or leagued with peaceful men:
They listed in their multitudes,
To one, that midst them stood,
And reared the Cross--as painters draw
John Baptist in the Wood.


They listened to his wondrous words
Upon the pebbled strand;
And ay--they welcomed in their hearts,
The reign of GOD at hand.
With laud and anthem rung the grove;
And here, where howled their yell,
I've heard their Christian litanies,
And high TE DEUM swell.


And when the golden Easter came
Again they gathered there,
All eager for the Christian name,
And Christ's dear Cross to bear.
Oh! forest-aisles, ye trembled then,
Like fanes where organs roll,
To hear those savage-featured men
Outpour the Christian soul.


And in the wild-wood's walks they knelt
To own their sins and pray;
And in these holy water-floods,
They washed their sins away:
By Horicon, the Trinal GOD
Confessed them for His sons,
And here the HOLY SPIRIT sealed
His own begotten ones.


Oh! Abana and Pharpar old
Must yield to Iordan's flow;
But never this clear Horicon;
The Prophet said not so!
For sins more dire than leprosy
These waves have washed away,
And so they named clear Horicon,
St. Sacrament, for aye.


Then onward sped the missionaire
The wilderness to wake:
A voice was on the desert air,
For GOD a highway make!
The lifted Cross, from hill to hill,
Proclaimed the Gospel word,
But sweet St. Sacrament was still
The laver of the LORD.


And years on years went rolling by;
The Indian boy grew old;
But longed once more, ere he should die,
That laver to behold:
And panting from his pilgrimage
He came at heat of day;
The lake was calm as in his youth,
St. Sacrament, for aye.


Then fell the white man's tracks around
Upon this virgin sand:
And bowed thy glories, Horicon,
Before his faithless hand!
He sent these waters o'er the sea
In marble urns to shine,
And christened babes of royalty
In streams that christened mine.


Adieu, adieu t my stranger boy;
But say, when I am gone,
This lake is Lake St. Sacrament,
And not Lake Horicon:
And when some lip that charmeth thee
Shall ask of thee a lay,
Oh bid her call Lake Horicon,
St. Sacrament, for aye.


Then keep thy name, sweet Lake, said I,
Thine holy name alone!
I love St. George's memory,
And Indian honour flown;
But never heard I history
Like thine, old man, this day:
The lake is CHRIST'S for evermore,
St. Sacrament, for aye!

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