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

Not so the ancients of these lands —
The Indian, when from life releas’d
Again is seated with his friends,
And shares gain the joyous feast.

His imag’d birds, and painted bowl,
And ven’son, for a journey dress’d,
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 finer essence 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 lofty rock remains,
On which the curious eye may trace,
(Now wasted, half, by wearing rains)
The fancies of a older race.

Here still an aged elm aspires,
Beneath whose far — projecting shade
(And which the shepherd still admires
The children of the forest play’d!

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

By midnight moons, o’er moistening dews,
In habit for the chase array’d,
The hunter still the deer pursues,
The hunter and the deer, a shade!

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.

19 Comments

  1. rawan says:

    the indian byring ground

  2. Pernille says:

    I think, that in this poem, Philip Freneau describes how the Native Americans live in harmony with Nature, their attitude towards the essence of life, and how they become one with nature at their deathbed.
    With rhymes, metaphors and comparisons, he tells how the Indians are not savages, and that maybe we, the white people, or as he says “The learned”, could learn a lot of the Natives spiritual view on life and especially death. The learned, seemed to have misunderstood the Native Americans and their culture. According to the author the white man doesn’t seem to understand the country he arrived in, He’s a stranger in a strange country, and therefore he is having a hard time tolerating the Native Americans.

    According to Philip Freneau, the Native Americans become one with nature, and are not focused on all the material things in life. The Romanticism has its influence on this poem. It’s very positive with all the nature images he gives, and his positive look upon the Natives is also very positive.
    I believe that Philip Freneau wrote this poem to inspire the Americans to give the Natives, the Indians, the respect they deserved.

  3. Sofie, Natascha og Emma says:

    This poem is a poem full of beauty. It describes the nature in relation to the Native Americans. The ten stanzas with four lines each compares real life to life after death. Freneau is right about the Indians not being savages, and he is challenging the white, because the white people don’t respect the new country they have immigrated to. They think of the Indians as thier slaves, which they have no right to.
    After all, we think that the poem expresses Freneau’s opinion very well, which is niZe 😀 *lOl*

  4. Viktor & Mads Kisby says:

    We think it’s important to look at the time this poem was written in. America has just won the independence war and is now trying to nationalize itself by looking back at their past, like it was done all over the rest of the world, especially Europe. Countries were striving to gain nationhood. Historically, the rest of the world is going through the romance at this time, and in the literature they’re looking back at their ancestors in an idolizing shade, which was so common in this period of time. The Americans tries to do the same thing to gain nationalism.

  5. Jens, Mikkel and Helene says:

    We believe that this is a poem about the contrast of the white mans view on death and the Native Americans. The “learned” white man seeks a meaning with life, the essence, while the Indian culture is based on spirituality, and therefore celebrates death as a symbol of becoming one with nature.
    The author feels sorry for the misunderstanding between the Native Americans culture and the European non-tolerant culture. He says the white man is a stranger in nature, and does not understand neither the nature nor the Indians.
    We believe that the message Freneau is telling us, is that the Indians are not savages, but should be respected, and that we perhaps could learn something from their view on death. Where it is not something bad, but rather a “feast” with old friends.

    By Jens, Helene and Mikkel

  6. Jamal B says:

    When I’ve read this poem, I could see that Phillip tried to say, that the Indians were the ¨real¨ people. It was them who melt together with the nature.
    Phillip points out, that the Indians are the best hunters, and you should show them all respect.
    You can clearly see, that Phillips opnion in this poem; he’s with the indians, because he describes them very positive, and he compares them with something supercilious, e.g. the nature.
    you can also see that the poem has some devices from Romanticism, because he compares the Indians with the Nature and also his description of the indians; he decribes them like stone and birds, and it’s also typical of Romanticism.

  7. Mads, Tobias and Nikolaj says:

    Philip Freneau was one of the first to idolize the Native American, and thereby disagree with the main attitude and thoughts towards Indians, in the 18th century America. He does so in the poem “The Indian Burying ground”. In the poem he depicts the close band between nature and Indians. Furthermore the spirituality surrounding Indians and death is also a central theme. He uses a wide variety of metaphors and symbols, to clarify his message towards the reader. E.g.: “…Children of the forest.” and “His imaged birds, and painted bowl.”
    Therefore we believe that the poem, is written to inspire respect for the Indians, and has had significant influence on the later perception of Indians.

  8. Anne-Mette & Emilie says:

    We are of the opinion that Philip Freneau with this poem wants to tell us that Native Americans’ attitude towards life and death is the correct one, which is seen in stanza 10: And reason’s self shall bow the knee. By this he is saying that the truth, the white man is living by, has to knuckle under to the Native Americans way of life.
    He sees the Native Americans’ as a very spiritual people, and by pointing out the Native Americans as the superior thinkers in connection to life and death he dissociate himself from materialism. Even though he praises nature, which is materialistic, he actually praises the creation and life.
    In spite of the fact that he wrote the poem in 1788, which is in the early romanticism, we believe that because he dissociate himself from materialism, he is ahead of his time and actually talks about values which are appreciated and belong to late romanticism.

  9. Mads, Tobias and Nikolaj says:

    Philip Freneau was one of the first to idolize the Native American, and thereby disagree with the main attitude and thoughts towards Indians, in the 18th century America. He does so in the poem “The Indian Burying ground”. In the poem he depicts the close band between nature and Indians. Furthermore the spirituality surrounding Indians and death is also a central theme. He uses a wide variety of metaphors and symbols, to clarify his message towards the reader. E.g.: “…Children of the forest.” and “His imaged birds, and painted bowl.”
    Therefore we believe that the poem, is written to inspire respect for the Indians, and has had significant influence on the later perception of Indians.

  10. Ibrahim and Nawin says:

    Our first thought after reading the poem was that it described the conditions and the relationship between the Indians and the nature. But also a criticism of the white men’s behaviour in the Indian Territory. The nature meant a lot for the Indians and their idea and understanding of life, death and after death. This poem contents a lot of nationalistic and romantic aspects in the description of their land, people and culture.

  11. Marie-Louise and Kirstine says:

    The long poem written by Philip Freneau describes an Indian burying ground and it is obvious that Freneaus is fascinated by the Indians and their belief. Freneau sees the Indians as children of the forest – a people that live in harmony with nature and have found the essence of life. Further more Freneau distances himself from ‘the learned’ and the reason they represent. He doesn’t see as the Indians as savages as the learned do, so in that way you could say that he didn’t approve of the way the Indians were treated. Americans should respect the Indians and their way of thinking.

    The poem is bind together by rhythm, rhymes, and repetition of words and letters. Therefore the poem is interesting even though there is no progression. There is no action in the poem, because Freneau has focused on the description rather than action.

    The context of the poem is the early romanticism. It is quite obvious because he is fascinated by the Native Americans. Like many other romantic authors he is fascinated by their simple life in harmony with nature where magic is still present.

  12. Maria Cankovic says:

    Philip Freneau expresses his belief that the Indians are the ones who have already established a connection with the Supreme Force that gave birth to the life as we know it, and to the one which is mysteriosly hidden from us. Unlike civilized nations, that use this gift as a means to secure a stable and comfortable place in this world, the tribal communities keenly listen to and obey the nature’s inner voice which leads to the Designer of Everything. It is rather low and one should dedicate their whole life in order to hear it well.
    The Indians are the attentive listeners.
    The “civilized” people don’t bother so much- they live, laugh, love and sleep later. And for reaching the union with one’s true self there will be time…later…

  13. George says:

    Reading this poem I see that it is both a regret of treatment toward Native Americans, and an respect of there way of thinking toward the after life. Being a Native American myself, the word freedom has an entirely different meaning than what the average joe would think. Freneau expresses the longing for the freedom in this poem. With his words “Beseak the nature of the soul” He meant every mans will to be free. Do what makes the soul happy. With line 33-36, he tells what made the hunter happy. Freneau gives the respect to the Native American, as he speaks of the bruying grounds. He tells the stranger, do not disturb the mounds. In his way he says they are not asleep, rather, they are enjoying what made them happy….. FREEDOM !

  14. Gracie Mendoza says:

    Freneau’s “The Indian Burying Ground” expresses his primitivism that marked his nature poetry. Although reason assured Freneau that the dead did not walk again on this earth, he indulges his fancy in this poem and supposes that the sitting posture in which Indians bury their dead signifies their belief in life on earth again. He even postulates that we say one thing and act a different way, whereas the Indians’ actions spring from their beliefs. It is clear that Freneau admires the Indians, the noble savages by this time.

  15. MakSik says:

    It’s bull shit, because I don’t believe these words///
    But i respect Freneau

  16. Raquel says:

    I strongly believe that Freneau depicts some guilty feelings on the poem. He feels responsible – as an American- for the American Indians deads due to the colonization of the USA. Therefore, he contrasts life after death with the American Tribes that were exterminated some time before.
    Raquel.

  17. Sue Trentecoste says:

    This lovely poem refers to the idea that life after death on this loftly plane of ours is for some merely a quiet rest. For others, it is a testimony to the continuity of life and there is the expectation to live that life to its fullest upon our departure. The observer who may pass by such a grave bows in earnest to the one who does adhere to these universal principles.

  18. jocelyn g macalisang says:

    well, apparently,the poem is a conviction of wat europeans had done on the native indians. i am not saying that i am accusing the europeans, its just that maybe they have done something with america especially with the native indians that made a worse history… otherwise, i am wrong,,,,, this is all…..

    maxi

  19. edward says:

    aah seems kinda mean there beth but im sure what she meant was like man your spelling is getting so much better good job! you almost got the word right! high five!… im sure thats what she meant.. keep up the good work 😉

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