Prairie

22 06 2013

summerscape

 

These are the gardens of the Desert, these
    The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
    For which the speech of England has no name,
    The Prairies. I behold them for the first,
    And my heart swells, while the dilated sight
    Takes in the encircling vastness. Lo! they stretch
    In airy undulations, far away,
    As if the ocean, in his gentlest swell,
    Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed,
    And motionless for ever. Motionless? 
    No, they are all unchained again. The clouds
    Sweep over with their shadows, and, beneath,
    The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye;
    Dark hollows seem to glide along and chase
    The sunny ridges. Breezes of the South!
    Who toss the golden and the flame-like flowers,
    And pass the prairie-hawk that, poised on high,
    Flaps his broad wings, yet moves not, ye have played
    Among the palms of Mexico and vines
    Of Texas, and have crisped the limpid brooks
    That from the fountains of Sonora glide
    Into the calm Pacific, have ye fanned
    A nobler or a lovelier scene than this?
    Man hath no part in all this glorious work:
    The hand that built the firmament hath heaved
    And smoothed these verdant swells, and sown their slopes
    With herbage, planted them with island groves,
    And hedged them round with forests. Fitting floor
    For this magnificent temple of the sky,
    With flowers whose glory and whose multitude
    Rival the constellations! The great heavens
    Seem to stoop down upon the scene in love, 
    A nearer vault, and of a tenderer blue,
    Than that which bends above the eastern hills…

 

prairie bouquet 1

 

 

Still this great solitude is quick with life.
    Myriads of insects, gaudy as the flowers
    They flutter over, gentle quadrupeds,
    And birds, that scarce have learned the fear of man,
    Are here, and sliding reptiles of the ground,
    Startlingly beautiful. The graceful deer
    Bounds to the wood at my approach. The bee,
    A more adventurous colonist than man,
    With whom he came across the eastern deep,
    Fills the savannas with his murmurings,
    And hides his sweets, as in the golden age,
    Within the hollow oak. I listen long
    To his domestic hum, and think I hear
    The sound of that advancing multitude
    Which soon shall fill these deserts. From the ground
    Comes up the laugh of children, the soft voice
    Of maidens, and the sweet and solemn hymn
    Of Sabbath worshippers. The low of herds
    Blends with the rustling of the heavy grain
    Over the dark-brown furrows. All at once
    A fresher wind sweeps by, and breaks my dream,
    And I am in the wilderness alone.

 

prairie tableau

 

 

William Cullen Bryant

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