Poems of John Brainard
John Brainard


Hic viridis tenera prætexit arundine ripas Mincius.

'T IS a sweet stream — and so, 't is true, are all
That undisturbed, save by the harmless brawl
Of mimic rapid or slight waterfall,
Pursue their way
By mossy bank, and darkly waving wood,
By rock, that since the deluge fixed has stood,
Showing to sun and moon their crisping flood
By night and day.
But yet, there's something in its humble rank,
Something in its pure wave and sloping bank,
Where the deer sported, and the young fawn drank
With unscared look;
There's much in its wild history, that teems
With all that's superstitious — and that seems
To match our fancy and eke out our dreams,
In that small brook.
Page  81
Havoc has been upon its peaceful plain,
And blood has dropped there, like the drops of rain;
The corn grows o'er the still graves of the slain —
And many a quiver,
Filled from the reeds that grew on yonder hill,
Has spent itself in carnage. Now 't is still,
And whistling ploughboys oft their runlets fill
From Salmon River.
Here, say old men, the Indian Magi made
Their spells by moonlight; or beneath the shade
That shrouds sequestered rock, or dark'ning glade,
Or tangled dell.
Here Philip came, and Miantonimo,
And asked about their fortunes long ago,
As Saul to Endor, that her witch might show
Old Samuel.
And here the black fox roved, that howled and shook
His thick tail to the hunters, by the brook
Where they pursued their game, and him mistook
For earthly fox;
Thinking to shoot him like a shaggy bear,
And his soft peltry, stripped and dressed, to wear,
Or lay a trap, and from his quiet lair
Transfer him to a box.
Page  82
Such are the tales they tell. 'T is hard to rhyme
About a little and unnoticed stream,
That few have heard of— but it is a theme
I chance to love;
And one day I may tune my rye-straw reed,
And whistle to the note of many a deed
Done on this river— which, if there be need,
I 'll try to prove.