TO THE DRIVING CLOUD
Gloomy and dark art thou, O chief of the mighty Omahas;
Gloomy and dark as the driving cloud, whose name thou hast taken!
Wrapt in thy scarlet blanket, I see thee stalk through the city’s
Narrow and populous streets, as once by the margin of rivers
Stalked those birds unknown, that have left us only their
What, in a few short years, will remain of thy race but the
How canst thou walk these streets, who hast trod the green turf
Of the prairies!
How canst thou breathe this air, who hast breathed the sweet air
Of the mountains!
Ah! ‘t is in vain that with lordly looks of disdain thou dost
Looks of disdain in return,, and question these walls and these
Claiming the soil for thy hunting-grounds, while down-trodden
Starve in the garrets of Europe, and cry from its caverns that
Have been created
Back, then, back to thy woods in the regions west of the Wabash!
There as a monarch thou reignest. In autumn the leaves of the
Pave the floors of thy palace-halls with gold, and in summer
Pine-trees waft through its chambers the odorous breath of their
There thou art strong and great, a hero, a tamer of horses!
There thou chasest the stately stag on the banks of the Elkhorn,
Or by the roar of the Running-Water, or where the Omaha
Calls thee, and leaps through the wild ravine like a brave of the
Hark! what murmurs arise from the heart of those mountainous
Is it the cry of the Foxes and Crows, or the mighty Behemoth,
Who, unharmed, on his tusks once caught the bolts of the thunder,
And now lurks in his lair to destroy the race of the red man?
Far more fatal to thee and thy race than the tread of Behemoth,
Lo! the big thunder-canoe, that steadily breasts the Missouri’s
Merciless current! and yonder, afar on the prairies, the
Gleam through the night; and the cloud of dust in the gray of the
Marks not the buffalo’s track, nor the Mandan’s dexterous
It is a caravan, whitening the desert where dwell the Camanches!
Ha! how the breath of these Saxons and Celts, like the blast of
Drifts evermore to the west the scanty smokes of thy wigwams!