John O'Leary


We Owe Them all that We Possess’: ‘Native’ Songs and Laments Nineteenth-century settlers, both British and American, wrote a considerable amount of verse about the indigenous peoples they, or earlier settlers, had encountered in the course of colonisation. Critical discussion has focused mainly on the major works they produced — pre-eminently on Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha (1855), which is accorded a literary as well as historical significance.1 Much nineteenth-century verse about indigenous peoples was, however, of the casual or occasional kind, published, often pseudonymously, in newspapers, magazines and pamphlets, by poets of greater or lesser obscurity.2 This body of poetry has received, generally speaking, little critical analysis, yet it constitutes an intriguing index of nineteenth-century settler attitudes towards indigenes. It is certainly worthy of further discussion.



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