Poet: Philip Morin Freneau
Dates: 2 January 1752 – 18 December 1832
Title of Poem: The Indian Burial Ground
In spite of all the learn’d have said;
I still my old opinion keep,
The posture, that we give the dead,
Points out the soul’s eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands —
The Indian, when from life releas’d
Again is seated with his friends,
And shares gain the joyous feast.
His imag’d birds, and painted bowl,
And ven’son, for a journey dress’d,
Bespeak the nature of the soul,
Activity, that knows no rest.
His bow, for action ready bent,
And arrows, with a head of stone,
Can only mean that life is spent,
And not the finer essence gone.
Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way.
No fraud upon the dead commit —
Observe the swelling turf, and say
They do not lie, but here they sit.
Here still lofty rock remains,
On which the curious eye may trace,
(Now wasted, half, by wearing rains)
The fancies of a older race.
Here still an aged elm aspires,
Beneath whose far — projecting shade
(And which the shepherd still admires
The children of the forest play’d!
There oft a restless Indian queen
(Pale Shebah, with her braided hair)
And many a barbarous form is seen
To chide the man that lingers there.
By midnight moons, o’er moistening dews,
In habit for the chase array’d,
The hunter still the deer pursues,
The hunter and the deer, a shade!
And long shall timorous fancy see
The painted chief, and pointed spear,
And reason’s self shall bow the knee
To shadows and delusions here.
Brief Biography: Often called the Poet of the American Revolution Philip Freneau was also a sea captain and newspaper editor. Hi poem ‘The House of the Night’ is one of the first romantic poems to be written and published in America. Freneau may not be as well-known as his contemporary American poets but he is noted for introducing themes and images that later writers became famous for.