The Death-Cry

Moonless the skies, unlit the forest way,
Black hangs the night o'er northern Canada.
Parting the silence comes the hoot of owls,
A stray fox barks—afar some strange dog howls,
In such forebodings crouches death—
A knife
Uplifted in the crisis of hot strife
Has drunk vermillion draughts, its hostile blow
Has stilled the hostile blood of some dark foe,
Noiseless the victor through the midnight creeps
Toward the forest stream which silent sleeps—
Leans he low down above the snake-like flood,
To tell his world that law is blood for blood,
Bold from his parted lips the death-cry leaps
Adown the waters, icily it sweeps,
Weird, strange and chilling, awfulest of cries
That on distant darkness floats—then dies,
The Mohawk listens! all is still as death,
Aye, death itself seems dead—once more that breath
Curdles the air with savage eloquence,
Vibrating through the forest black and dense,
One moment more of gloom, ghostlike and drear,
Then the red warrior's catlike, listening ear
Catches a seeming echo—a reply
From miles adown the stream—his wild death-cry
Has floated with the waters, and 'tis passed
From mouth to mouth, the deed is known at last.
Unmoved he hears the far off eerie wail,
Then turns to take again the midnight trail,
He parts the boughs—bends low his eagle plume
And merges in the depths of forest gloom.
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