by: Theodore O'Hara (1820-1867)

      dirge for the brave old pioneer!
      Knight-errant of the wood!
      Calmly beneath the green sod here
      He rests from field and flood
      The war-whoop and the panther's screams
      No more his soul shall rouse,
      For well the aged hunter dreams
      Beside his good old spouse.
      A dirge for the brave old pioneer!
      Hushed now his rifle's peal;
      The dews of many a vanish'd year
      Are on his rusted steel;
      His horn and pouch lie moldering
      Upon the cabin-door;
      The elk rests by the salted spring,
      Nor flees the fierce wild boar.
      A dirge for the brave old pioneer!
      Old Druid of the West!
      His offering was the fleet wild deer,
      His shrine the mountain's crest.
      Within his wildwood temple's space
      An empire's towers nod,
      Where erst, alone of all his race,
      He knelt to Nature's God.
      A dirge for the brave old pioneer!
      Columbus of the land!
      Who guided freedom's proud career
      Beyond the conquer'd strand;
      And gave her pilgrim sons a home
      No monarch's step profanes,
      Free as the chainless winds that roam
      Upon its boundless plains.
      A dirge for the brave old pioneer!
      The muffled drum resound!
      A Warrior is slumb'ring here
      Beneath his battle-ground.
      For not alone with beast of prey
      The bloody strife he waged,
      Foremost where'er the deadly fray
      Of savage combat raged.
      A dirge for the brave old pioneer!
      A dirge for his old spouse!
      For her who blest his forest cheer,
      And kept his birchen house,
      Now soundly by her chieftain may
      The brave old dame sleep on,
      The red man's step is far away,
      The wolf's dread howl is gone.
      A dirge for the brave old pioneer!
      His pilgrimage is done;
      He hunts no more the grizzly bear
      About the setting sun.
      Weary at last of chase and life,
      He laid him here to rest,
      Nor recks he now what sport or strife
      Would tempt him further west.
      A dirge for the brave old pioneer!
      The patriarch of his tribe!
      He sleeps--no pompous pile marks where,
      No lines his deeds describe.
      They raised no stone about him here,
      Nor carved his deathless name--
      An empire is his sepulchre,
      His epitaph is Fame.

"The Old Pioneer" is reprinted from O'Hara and His Elegies. George W. Ranck. Baltimore: Turnbull Brothers, 1875.




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