Marianne Moore: Poetry

September 7, 2011

Daniel Boone in “Virginia Britannia”

“[a rose stem] As thick as Daniel Boone’s grape / vine”

“Virginia Britannica”

Life and Letters Today (December 1935) 66-70, ll. 44-45.

The legends that grew up around Daniel Boone include one about his escape from Indians by means of a grapevine swing. Moore could have encountered this tale in many books, but one published for American children when she was eight is as likely as any:

From the book

     He made long journeys alone in the woods. One day he looked back through the trees and saw four Indians. They were fol-low-ing Boone’s tracks. They did not see him. He turned this way and that. But the Indians still fol-lowed his tracks.

     He went over a little hill. Here he found a wild grape-vine. It was a very long vine, reaching to the top of a high tree. There are many such vines in the Southern woods. Children cut such vines off near the roots. Then they use them for swings.

     Boone had swung on grape-vines when he was a boy. He now thought of a way to break his tracks. He cut the wild grape-vine off near the root. Then he took hold of it. He sprang out into the air with all his might. The great swing carried him far out as it swung. Then he let go. He fell to the ground, and then he ran away in a different di-rec-tion from that in which he had been going.

     When the Indians came to the place, they could not find his tracks. They could not tell which way he had gone. He got to his cabin in safety. [Hyphenation in the original]

–Edward Eggleston, Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans, New York: American Book Company, 1895, p. 78.

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