Indian Burying Ground

An Electronic Edition · Philip Freneau (1752-1832)

Original Source: Philip Freneau, "The Indian Burial Ground." In . Edited by Percy H. Boynton. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1918.

Copyright 2002. Thist text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided

Full Colophon Information


In spite of all the learned have said.
I still my old opinion keep;
The posture, that we give our dead,
Points out the soul’s eternal sleep.

Not so the ancients of these lands >–
The Indian, when from life released,
Again is seated with his friends,
And shares again the joyous feast. 

His imaged birds, and painted bowl,
And venison, for a journey dressed,
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 old ideas 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 a lofty rock remains,
On which the curious eye may trace
(Now wasted half, by wearing rains)
The fancies of a ruder race.

Here still an aged elm aspires,
Beneath whose far-projecting shade
(And which the shepherd still admires)
The children of the forest played! 

There oft a restless Indian queen
(Pale shebah, with her braided hair)
And many a barbarous form is seen
To chide the man who lingers there.4.

By midnight moons, o’er moistening dews;
In habit for the chase arrayed,
The hunter still the deer pursues,
The hunter and the deer, a shade!4.

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. 

Full Colophon Information

Genre: Poetry
Subjects: Early National Society and Life, Native Americans
Period: 1750-1800
Location: British America
Format: verse

The text of this document of originally published in 1788.

The text of the present edition was prepared from and proofed against Philip Freneau, "The Indian Burial Ground," in American Poetry. Edited by Percy H. Boynton (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1918). All preliminaries and notes have been omitted except those for which the author is responsible. All editorial notes have been omitted except those that indicate significant textual variations. Line and paragraph numbers contained in the source text have been retained. In cases where the source text displays no numbers, numbers are automatically generated. In the header, personal names have been regularized according to the Library of Congress authority files as "Last Name, First Name" for the REG attribute and "First Name Last Name" for the element value. Names have not been regularized in the body of the text.