A Grave in the Everglades

George E. Merrick

By the rise of a palm-grown highland
Far out in the Everglade,
In a mound on a jungle island,
Is a Seminole Warrior laid.
There in the midst of the prairie,
Desolate, forgotten, lone;
‘Neath a mound in a land most dreary
The land he had thought his own.

The live-oaks are growing around it;
And their roots are deep in the mound;
A palm that years ago found it
Reaches sixty feet up from the ground.
A grave in the midst of the prairie
With Palmetto-scrub overgrown;
On an isle in a land most dreary,
In the land he had thought his own.

Weighed down with a burden of sorrow
The Spanish moss drapes in dank gray,
And the sunbeams, filtering, borrow
The dullness of a storm darkened day.
On the isle where the cocoa-plum tosses
He lies, –forgotten and lone:
His grave overhung by the mosses
Of the live-oaks he had thought his own.

From His bed midst the hycacinth-canna
The ‘gator crawls out for his prey,
O’er the mound, through the bed of lantana
Where the sun-loving mocassins lay;
‘Mongst the kind of his long-ago quarry
But heedless of murmur or moan
He lies in the midst of the prairie
In the land he had thought his own.

Here the egret and flamingo, fleeing
From the invading and death-dealing foe,
Find escape for a dread time-being
O’er the bones of the one laid low;
For him, also, they had pressed and invaded,
And had reaped where he had sown,—
In those days e’er the warriors faded
From the land they had thought their own.

And the wind through the jungle passes
With a burden of infinite woe,—
That is whispered in the tall cane grasses
That along by the channels grow:
Breathings of a time when the prairie
Had been roamed by the Red men alone,
When they had hunted, unsuspecting unwary,
Through the land they had thought their own.

Of that time, of the harsh awaking,
Of their bitter unmerited wrong:
Of the steady insidious taking;
Of the struggle so hopeless and long.
And the wind sighs through the mosses
‘Bove the mound with palms overgrown:
Breathing a sob of people’s losses—
The loss of the land they had thought their own.

In the shade of a palm-grown highland,
In the mystical Everglade;
‘Neath a mound of hammock island,
Is a Seminole warrior laid.
In the midst of the Vista of grasses;
Desolate, forgotten, lone:
And the wind that continually passes,
Sweeps the land he had thought his own

The most powerful tribe in Florida, the Seminoles fought the USA in a series of wards from 1816 to 1858. They were forced southwards, and the last bands retreated into the Everglades. The Seminoles never officially surrendered.

Main Location:

Everglades, Florida, USA

Seminole on a punt in the South Florida Everglades