Posted by: Oklahoma Sun | February 23, 2010

Laramie Trail.

Laramie Trail.


Joseph Mills Hanson. The Poet’s Pack, 1921.

 

ACROSS the crests of the naked hills,
Smooth-swept by the winds of God,
It cleaves its way like a shaft of gray
Close-bound by the prairie sod.
It stretches flat from the sluggish Platte
To the lands of forest shade;
The clean trail, the lean trail,
The trail the troopers made.
 
It draws aside with a wary curve
From the lurking, dark ravine,
It launches fair as a lance in air
O’er the raw-ribbed ridge between;
With never a wait it plunges straight
Through river or reed-grown brook;
The deep trail, the steep trail,
The trail the squadrons took.
 
They carved it well, those men of old,
Stern lords of the border war,
They wrought it out with their sabres stout
And marked it with their gore.
They made it stand as an iron band
Along the wild frontier;
The strong trail, the long trail,
The trail of force and fear.
 
For the stirring note of the bugle’s throat
Ye may hark today in vain,
For the track is scarred by the gang-plow’s shard
And gulfed in the growing grain.
But wait tonight for the moonrise white;
Perchance ye may see them tread
The lost trail, the ghost trail,
The trail of the gallant dead.
 
‘Twixt cloud and cloud o’er the pallid moon
From the nether dark they glide,
And the grasses sigh as they rustle by
Their phantom steeds astride.
By four and four as they rode of yore
And well they know the way;
The dim trail, the grim trail,
The trail of toil and fray.
 
With tattered guidons spectral thin
Above their swaying ranks,
With carbines swung and sabres slung
And the gray dust on their flanks
They march again as they marched it then
When the red men dogged their track,
The gloom trail, the doom trail,
The trail they came not back.
 
They pass, like a flutter of drifting fog,
As the hostile tribes have passed,
As the wild-wing’d birds and the bison herds
And the unfenced prairies vast,
And those who gain by their strife and pain
Forget, in the land they won,
The red trail, the dead trail,
The trail of duty done.
 
But to him who loves heroic deeds
The far-flung path still bides,
The bullet sings and the war-whoop rings
And the stalwart trooper rides,
For they were the sort from Snelling Fort
Who traveled fearlessly
The bold trail, the old trail,
The trail to Laramie.
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