10 September 2012

Nebraska Prairies - A Perspective

O what a scene! so pure and green,
And boundless to the roving eye;
Untilled, untouched, wild and serene,
And arched by such a glorious sky;
The clouds swell out in silver waves,
Around the deep ethereal blue;
And some, like shores of cliffs and eaves,
Jut from the North in dusky hue.
In loveliest variation spread,
The fresh green prairies glow around;
Some rambling hills the valleys lead,
And some the plains like bulwarks bound.
Two months ago swift prairie flame
O'er all with golden circles swept;
And cleaner than the flocks or game
It grazed to where the waters crept.
Then vernal showers gently fell
To wash the scorched and darkened earth,
And call from every hill and dell
The waiting shoots of herbage forth.
Till now, like richest emerald, glow
Around me valley, plain and hill,
And silk-green trees, and plums like snow,
Escort the gently journeying rill.
Young flowers their dewy eyes upturn,
To woo the angel stars by night;
But droop to hide, when day-beams burn,
Their bashful beauty from the sight.
In other flowery coverts deep
The doe conceals her speckled fawn;
And prairie hens their chirplings keep,
Till circling hawks above are gone.
Soon 'midst the waves of summer green
The brown fat deer and antelope
Shall in the watered dells be seen
Beneath the shade-tree's dusky cope.
Blest in the bounties of each day,
And from man's dominion rude,
All live their happy lives away,
In nature's own sweet solitude.
What unrecorded ages past
Lie hid in silent mystery here!
What future states their shadows cast
Beyond the Indian's wild career!
For hark! that whistle, shrill and clear!
Those puffs from fiery throats and heart!
All nature shrinks with silent fear
When comes you harbinger of art.
The locomotive, in its course,
With sun-like eye, and mane of steam,
Drags civilization on by force,
And wakes wild centuries from their dreams.
What change few brief years have wrought
Within this western wilderness!
Developed with the speed of thought,
To lovely farms and villages.
In towns the railways knot, that speed
To all parts safe, in hours more few,
Than once the traveler, armed for need
In weeks the tardy oxen drew.
Neat buggies whirl their lords along
Where buffaloes thundered o'er the plain;
And field-larks from their joyous song,
O'er fields and miles of waving grain.
May 29, 1874. Nebraska prairies. Jefferson City (Missouri) State Journal 2(23): 6. Written for the State Journal.