Eliza Lee Follen


This is a little hill, on the shore, in the town of Quincy. It is shaped
like an arrow-head, as its original name, Masentusett, in the Indian language,
signifies; Mas meaning arrow-head, and Entusett, hill. From this spot Boston
and its vicinity, from the Blue Hills to the rocks of Nahant, rise upon the
view like a panorama. It was the abode of the Sachem when the English first
arrived. He was a friendly old man, and sold them corn and land. Soon after
their arrival, an epidemic appeared among his tribe; and, in a short time, nothing was left of them but the few remains
that are still found of their simple implements of war and agriculture, and the name
of this little hill, which some suppose, with a slight alteration, was given to this
State. [Follen's note]

Here, from this little hillock, in days long since gone by,
Glanced over hill and valley the Sachem's eagle eye;
His were the pathless forests, and his the hills so blue,
And on the restless ocean danced only his canoe.
Here stood the aged chieftain, rejoicing in his glory;
How deep the shade of sadness that rests upon his story!
For the white man came with power; like brethren they met;
But the Indian fires went out, and the Indian sun has set.
And the chieftain has departed; gone is his hunting-ground;
And the twanging of his bow-string is a forgotten sound.
Where dwelleth yesterday? and where is echo's cell?
Where has the rainbow vanished?---there does the Indian dwell.
But in the land of spirits the Indian has a place,
And there, 'midst saints and angels, he sees his Maker's face:
There from all earthly passions his heart may be refined,
And the mists that once enshrouded, be lifted from his mind.
And should his free-born spirit descend again to earth,
And here, unseen, revisit the spot that gave him birth,
Would not his altered nature rejoice with rapture high
At the changed and glorious prospect that now would meet his eye?
Where nodded pathless forests, there now are stately domes;
Where hungry wolves were prowling, are quiet, happy homes;
Where rose the savage war-whoop, is heard sweet village bells,
And many a gleaming spire, of faith in Jesus tells.
And he feels his soul is changed---'tis there a vision glows
Of more surpassing beauty than earthly scenes disclose;
For the heart that felt revenge, with boundless love is filled.
And the restless tide of passion to a holy calm is stilled.
Here to my mental vision the Indian chief appears,
And all my eager questions fancy believes he hears.
Oh speak! thou unseen being, and the mighty secrets tell
Of the land of deathless glories, where the departed dwell.
I cannot dread a spirit---for I would gladly see
The veil uplifted round us, and know that such things be.
The things we see are fleeting, like summer flowers decay---
The things unseen are real, and do not pass away.
The friends we love so dearly smile on us, and are gone,
And all is silent in their place, and we are left alone;
But the joy "that passeth show," and the love no arm can sever,
And all the treasures of their souls, shall be with us forever.

COMMENT: Follen strikes several themes here that appear in other early nineteenth
century American writing about Native Americans: (1) she makes no link between the
arrival of the colonists and the epidemic that decimates this tribe, (2) she situates
them in the legendary past rather than the living present, (3) she posthumously
Christianizes them, (4) she conflates their memorialized, spiritual presence in the
and with a Christian spiritual realm.