Posted by: Oklahoma Sun | December 8, 2010

Prairie Born.

Prairie Born.


Robert J.C. Stead. Songs of the Prairie, 1912.

 

WE have heard the night wind howling as we lay alone in bed;
We have heard the grey goose honking as he journeyed overhead;
We have smelt the smoke-wraith flying in the hot October wind,
And have fought the fiery demon that came roaring down behind;
We have seen the spent snow sifting through the key-hole of the door,
And the frost-line crawling, crawling, like a snake, along the floor;
We have felt the storm-fiend wrestle with the rafters in his might,
And the baffled blizzard shrieking through the turmoil of the night.
 
We have felt the April breezes warm along the plashy plains;
We have mind-marked to the cadence of the falling April rains;
We have heard the crash of water where the snow-fed rivers run,
Seen a thousand silver lakelets lying shining in the sun;
We have known the resurrection of the Springtime in the land,
Heard the voice of Nature calling and the words of her command,
Felt the thrill of springtime twilight and the vague, unfashioned thought
That the season’s birthday musters from the hopes we had forgot.
 
We have heard the cattle lowing in the silent summer nights;
We have smelt the smudge-fire fragrance—we have seen the smudge-fire lights—
We have heard the wild duck grumbling to his mate along the bank;
Heard the thirsty horses snorting in the stream from which they drank;
Heard the voice of Youth and Laughter in the long, slow-gloaming night;
Seen the arched electric splendor of the Great North’s livid light;
Read the reason of existence—felt the touch that was divine—
And in eyes that glowed responsive saw the End of God’s design.
 
We have smelt the curing wheat fields and the scent of new-mown hay;
We have heard the binders clatter through the dusty autumn day;
We have seen the golden stubble gleaming through the misty rain;
We have seen the plow-streaks widen as they turned it down again;
We have heard the threshers humming in the cool September night;
We have seen their dark procession by the straw piles’ eerie light;
We have heard the freight trains groaning, slipping, grinding, on the rail,
And the idle trace chains jingle as they jogged along the trail.
 
We have felt the cold of winter—cursed by those who know it not—
We have braved the blizzard’s vengeance, dared its most deceptive plot;
We have learned that hardy races grow from hardy circumstance,
And we face a dozen dangers to attend a country dance;
Though our means are nothing lavish we have always time for play,
And our social life commences at the closing of the day;
We have time for thought and culture, time for friendliness and friend,
And we catch a broader vision as our aspirations blend.
 
We have hopes to others foreign, aims they cannot understand,
We, the “heirs of all the ages,” we, the first fruits of the land;
Though we think with fond affection of the shores our fathers knew,
And we honor all our brothers—for a brother’s heart is true—
Though we stand with them for progress, peace, and unity, and power,
Though we die with them, if need be, in our nation’s darkest hour—
Still the prairies call us, call us, when all other voices fail,
And the call we knew in childhood is the call that must prevail.
 
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