Did King Philip Curse The Bridgewater Triangle? The Likely Origin of The Legend


Image source: Native Village.org.
One of the most popular theories on why the Bridgewater Triangle powerhouses so much paranormal activity is that Chief Metacom, otherwise known as King Philip, cursed the land that the war that would be named after him was fought on. Specifically, the area that stretches from Narragansett Bay to Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Many books on the Bridgewater Triangle almost state this curse theory as fact. But where did the legend come from? If King Philip HAD cursed the land upon his death, would he really announce it? Certainly the great chief didn't go into a soliloquy upon his grotesque death about how he would curse the land! Can you imagine? "Wait, before you cut my head off where it will be spiked for 25 years on display and dismember my body and hang it in the trees...I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY! I WILL CURSE YOU AND A LAND THAT SOMEDAY WILL BE KNOWN AS THE BRIDGEWATER TRIANGLE. Okay, you may now continue your butchery." 

The concept of an Indian cursing land is a highly unlikely one. To the Wampanoag, land and the tribe were ONE. To curse one would certainly curse the other. This curse of King Philip legend came from the imagination of poet John Greenleaf Whittier in his 1831 classic, "Legends of New England." Specifically, from this passage on from a poem entitled, "Metacom."

Yet, Brother, from this awful hour The dying curse of Metacom Shall linger with abiding power Upon the spoilers of my home. The fearful veil of things to come, By Kitchtan's hand is lifted from The shadows of the embryo years; And I can see more clearly through Than ever visioned Powwah did, For all the future comes unbid Yet welcome to my tranced view, As battle-yell to warrior-ears! From stream and lake and hunting-hill, Our tribes may vanish like a dream, And even my dark curse may seem Like idle winds when Heaven is still—No bodeful harbinger of ill, But, fiercer than the downright thunder, When yawns the mountain-rock asunder, And riven pine and knotted oak Are reeling to the fearful stroke, That curse shall work its master's will! The bed of yon blue mountain stream shall pour a darker tide than rain—The sea shall catch its blood-red stain, And broadly on its banks shall gleam The steel of those who should be brothers Yea—those whom one fond parent nursed Shall meet in strife, like fiends accursed—And trample down the once loved form, While yet with breathing passion warm, As fiercely as they would another's!"

Here is the poem in it's entirety:

MetacomByJohn Greenleaf Whittier

 [Metacom, or Philip, the chief of the Wampanoags, was the most powerful and sagacious Sachem who ever made war upon the English. He had all the qualities of a high statesman—a noble monarch, and a courageous warrior. The rude majesty of untamed and unchastened nature was never more boldly developed than in the character of Metacom. He had the elements of a giant mind—the unformed chaos of a world of intellect. He perilled his all in one fast enterprise—in one mighty effort to shake off the White Vampyre which was draining the life-blood of his people; and had his enemies been any other than the stern settlers of New-England, they must assuredly have fallen. The War of King Philip forms a dark page in the history of New-England.—It is red with blood,—with the blood of the strong man and the meek and beseeching woman, and the fair-haired child, and the cradled infant.] 


RED as the banner which enshrouds The warrior-dead, when strife is done,A broken mass of crimson clouds Hung over the departed sun. The shadow of the western hill Crept swiftly down, and darkly still, As if a sullen wave of night Were rushing on the pale twilight—The forest-openings grew more dim, As glimpses of the arching blue And waking stars came softly through The rifts of many a giant limb. Above the wet and tangled swamp White vapors gathered thick and damp, And through their cloudy-curtaining Flapped many a brown and dusky wing—Pinions that fan the moonless dun, But fold them at the rising sun!


Beneath the closing veil of night, And leafy bough and curling fog, With his few warriors ranged in sight—Scarred relics of his latest fight—Rested the fiery Wampanoag. He leaned upon his loaded gun, Warm with its recent work of death, And, save the struggling of his breath That, slow and hard, and long-suppressed,Shook the damp folds around his breast. An eye, that was unused to scan The sterner moods of that dark man. Had deemed his tall and silent form, With hidden passion fierce and warm, With that fixed eye, as still and dark As clouds which veil their lightning spark—That of some forest-champion, Whom sudden death had passed upon—A giant frozen into stone! Son of the throned Sachem!—Thou, The sternest of the forest kings,—Shall the scorned pale-one trample now, Unambushed on thy mountain's brow, Yea, drive his vile and hated plough Among thy nation's holy things, Crushing the warrior-skeleton In scorn beneath his armed heel, And not a hand be left to deal A kindred vengeance fiercely back, And cross in blood the Spoiler's track!

He started,—for a sudden shot came booming through the forest-trees—The thunder of the fierce Yengeese: It passed away, and injured not; But, to the Sachem's brow it brought The token of his lion thought. He stood erect—his dark eye burned, As if to meteor-brightness turned; And o'er his forehead passed the frown Of an archangel stricken down, Ruined and lost, yet chainless still—Weakened of power but strong of will! It passed—a sudden tremor came Like ague o'er his giant frame,—It was not terror—he had stood For hours, with death in grim attendance, 
When moccasins grew stiff with blood, And through the clearing's midnight flame, Dark, as a storm, the Pequod came, His red, right arm their strong dependence—When thrilling through the forest gloom The onset-cry of "Metacom!" Rang on the red and smoky air!—No—it was agony which passed Upon his soul—the strong man's last And fearful struggle with despair.


He turned him to his trustiest one—The old and war-tried Annawon—"Brother!"—The favored warrior stood In hushed and listening attitude—"This night the Vision-Spirit hath Unrolled the scroll of fate before me; And ere the sunrise cometh, Death Will wave his dusky pinion o'er me! Nay, start not—well I know thy faith—Thy weapon now may keep its sheath; But, when the bodeful morning breaks, And the green forest widely wakes, Unto the roar of Yengeese thunder, Then trusted brother, be it thine To burst upon the foeman's line, 
And rend his serried strength asunder. Perchance thyself and yet a few Of faithful ones may struggle through, And, rallying on the wooded plain, Strike deep for vengeance once again, And offer up in Yengeese blood An offering to the Indian's God."
Another shot—a sharp, quick yell—And then the stifled groan of pain, Told that another red man fell,—And blazed a sudden light again Across that kingly brow and eye, Like lightning on a clouded sky,—And a low growl, like that which thrills The hunter of the Eastern hills, Burst through clenched teeth and rigid lip—And, when the Monarch spoke again His deep voice shook beneath its rein, As wrath and grief held fellowship.
"Brother! methought when as but now I pondered on my nation's wrong, With sadness on his shadowy brow My father's spirit passed along! He pointed to the far south-west,
Where sunset's gold was growing dim, And seemed to beckon me to him, And to the forests of the blest!—My father loved the Yengeese, when They were but children, shelterless,For his great spirit at distress Melted to woman's tenderness—Nor was it given him to know That, children whom he cherished then, Would rise at length, like armed men, To work his people's overthrow. Yet thus it is;—the God, before Whose awful shrine the pale ones bow, Hath frowned upon, and given o'er The red man to the stranger now!—A few more moons—and there will beNo gathering to the council tree—The scorched earth—the blackened log—The naked bones of warriors slain, Be the sole relics which remain Of the once mighty Wampanoag! The forests of our hunting-land, With all their old and solemn green, Will bow before the Spoiler's axe—The plough displace the hunter's tracks,The morning star sat dimly on The lighted eastern horizon—The deadly glare of levelled gun Came streaking through the twilight haze And naked to its reddest blaze, A hundred warriors sprang in view—One dark red arm was tossed on high—One giant shout came hoarsely through The clangour and the charging cry, Just as across the scattering gloom, Red as the naked hand of Doom, The Yengeese volley hurtled by—The arm—the voice of Metacom!—One piercing shriek—one vengeful yell, Sent like an arrow to the sky, Told when the hunter-monarch fell!



And the tall Yengeese altar stand Where the Great Spirit's shrine hath been

Yet, brother, from this awful hour The dying curse of Metacom Shall linger with abiding power Upon the spoilers of my home. The fearful veil of things to come, By Kitchtan's hand is lifted from The shadows of the embryo years; And I can see more clearly through Than ever visioned Powwah did, For all the future comes unbid Yet welcome to my tranced view, As battle-yell to warrior-ears! From stream and lake and hunting-hill, Our tribes may vanish like a dream, And even my dark curse may seem Like idle winds when Heaven is still—No bodeful harbinger of ill, But, fiercer than the downright thunder, When yawns the mountain-rock asunder, And riven pine and knotted oak Are reeling to the fearful stroke, That curse shall work its master's will! The bed of yon blue mountain stream shall pour a darker tide than rain—The sea shall catch its blood-red stain, And broadly on its banks shall gleam The steel of those who should be brothers Yea—those whom one fond parent nursed Shall meet in strife, like fiends accursed—And trample down the once loved form, While yet with breathing passion warm, As fiercely as they would another's!"