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From: Cherokee21 DelphiPlus Member Icon8/17/02 9:35 PM 
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 1449.1 
John Howard Payne, author of Home, Sweet Home (1792 - 1852)

Payne, John Howard . N. Y., 17921852. John Howard Payne, a dramatist and
actor of New York city, was born in 1792 and died in 1852. He is to be
remembered by the Cherokee for documenting many traditionals, beliefs
and ceremonies which otherwise would have been lost through our
Removals.

His drama of Clari, the Maid of Milan, contains the famous lyric, Home,
Sweet Home, his chief claim to remembrance. From 1841 till his death he
was United States consul at Tunis, his remains being removed from there
to Washington in 1883. His best plays include, Brutus; Virginius;
Charles II.

Payne journeyed into Alabama and Georgia in order to obtain more
subscriptions and gather information for his articles. Here he
experienced adventures with the Creek and Cherokee Native Americans that
would bring him posthumous fame and recognition, but also threaten his
life.

In a letter to his sister Lucy John Howard Payne gave a complete
description of probably the last Green Corn Dance enacted by the Creeks
east of the Mississippi River. He later compiled a fourteen-volume
history of Cherokee political history, religious history, myths and
legends. Both of these works have proved invaluable to subsequent
ethnographers of Native American culture.

However, Payne was also destined to suffer greatly due to his contact
with the Cherokee Indians. Beginning in the decade of the 1830's the
United States had begun a systematic removal of the Cherokees from their
native lands. Payne, who had become acquainted with Chief John Ross,
wrote passionately of the injustices that had been inflicted upon the
Cherokees, translated various Cherokee documents and began complying
material in order to write a history of the Cherokee Nation. For his
efforts he was arrested by the Georgia Militia in Red Clay in 1835,
jailed for fourteen days, and nearly lost his life in the process. The
Cherokees were eventually moved off their native lands despite protests
and memorials written largely by Payne for the Cherokee leader, John
Ross.

Enjoy this later poem of John Howard Payne:

The Lament of the Cherokee

0, soft fills the dew, on the twilight descending,
And night over the distant forest is bending,
And night over the distant forest is bending,
Like the storm spirit, dark, o'er the tremulous main.
But midnight enshrouded my lone heart in its dwelling,
A tumult of woe in my bosom is swelling,
And a tear unbefitting the warrior is telling,
That hope has abandoned the brave Cherokee.

Can a tree that is torn from its root by the fountain,
The pride of the valley; green, spreading and fair,
Can it flourish, removed to the rock of the mountain,
Unwarmed by the sun and unwatered by care?

Though vesper be kind, her sweet dews in bestowing,
No life giving brook in its shadows is flowing,
And when the chill winds of the desert are blowing,
So droops the transplanted and lone Cherokee.

Sacred graves of my sires, and I left you forever,
How melted my heart when I bade you adieu,
Shall joy light the face of the Indian? Ah, never,
While memory sad has the power to renew.

As flies the fleet deer when the blood hound is started,
So fled winged hope from the poor broken hearted,
Oh, could she have turned ere forever departing,
And beckoned with smiles to her sad Cherokee.

Is it the low wind through the wet willows rushing,
That fills with wild numbers my listening ear?
Or is it some hermit rill in the solitude gushing,
The strange playing minstrel, whose music I hear?

'Tis the voice of my father, slow, solemnly stealing,
I see his dim form by yon meteor, kneeling,
To the God of the White Man, the Christian, appealing,
He prays for the foe of the dark Cherokee.

Great Spirit of Good, whose abode is in Heaven,
Whose wampum of peace is the bow in the sky,
Wilt thou give to the wants of the clamorous ravens,
Yet turn a deaf ear to my piteous cry?

O'er the ruins of home, o'er my heart's desolation,
No more shalt thou hear my unblest lamentation,
For death's dark encounter, I make preparation, He hears the last groan
of the wild Cherokee.

By John Howard Payne, author of Home, Sweet Home.

*Note: Cultural information may vary from clan to clan, location to
location, family to family, and from differing opinions and experiences.
Information provided here are not 'etched in stone'

 
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