Song of the Mississippi

This poem was written by Mariah's Great Grandfather,
Edgar Saunderson Kindley, The "Quaker Poet"

I stood by the Father of Waters,
as the tide went rippling along,
and I bent my ear to the murmuring sound
and tried to interpret the song:
The song of the forest primeval,
and the red man's birch canoe,
and the beautiful virgin landscape
with the broad stream wandering through
and kissing the grasses and lilies
where the wild deer came to drink
before the white man's footprint
was stamped apon its brink.

It sang of smiling prairies
upholstered thick with green
where the flowers in profusion
spread beauty 'round unseen,
and of forest old and seer
that never an axe had known
where peer saluted peer and bowed again
as the storm swept by with a moan.

And it sang the song of loneliness
and called the white man to come
and glide o'er the tranquil waters
and build his pioneer home
where the soil is rich and fertile
and the skies are soft and blue,
and to bring the iron horse hither
and the wilderness subdue.
And the cry of "Westward ho!"
was sounded throughout the nation
and along this great aorta
beat the pulse of emigration.

And the huntsman's rifle thundered,
and claimed all the grouse and the deer,
and the axe in the woodsman's hand
left a trail that is barren and drear.
And the forests were mowed like a meadow
and scattered with wasteful hand
as the white man's civilization
spread out o'er the virgin land.

And out upon the waters floated
the logs and raft after raft
sought harbor in a thousand ports
sped on by the boatsman's craft.
And the river, winding onward,
eddying, gurgling, surging towards the sea,
sang the direful song of times
that were and times that are to be.

And it told of the dead it had claimed,
gone down to sleep in its tide,
and it said "what an army I shall have
when they rise again, and stand at the river's side."
And it sang of the millions to come
that shall dwell on its beautiful shore
when all that are living today
shall gaze on its waters no more.

And it sang of boats floating o'er its surface
in pursuit of both pleasure and gain
and their voices shall sound forth its praises
from Itsaca to Lake Ponchartrain.

Oh, avaricious human throng!
surging on in toil and strife,
wasting God's most precious gifts,
profligate, even of life!
Shall we never prize the nectar
till the fountain has gone dry?
And ne'er see a man's good graces
till he takes to his bed to die?
We sound a brother's praises
when ne'er more we grasp his hand
and strive to restrain devastation
when there's nothing left on the land.
Laws to protect the game when it's
slaughtered and gone and forgotten,
laws to preserve the forest when the timber
it made with age is rotten.

But why shall we live in the future
or dream of the days that are by,
the past comes not again,
and, in future, all must die.
Let us wear a glad smile in the present
and encourage each other with cheer,
and say a kind word for our fellows
before they are laid on their biers.
And use, not abuse, God's bounties
that are spread in abundance for all,
and hold our hearts ever ready
to answer the Grand Master's call.

This song sang the river to me
as I stood by its ebbing tide,

(last two lines are missing
from the newspaper clipping)

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