THE COLUMBIA RIVER a Poem
THE COLUMBIA RIVER
O GRAND Columbia, River of the West;
O noble stream, for ages flowing on
Thro' shores unknown to civilized man!
Thy rough head-waters rise 'mid rocky mounts,
Where torrents of the melting snow down pour
From crag and cliff and rugged mountain peak,
Winding thro' desert plains and savage wastes;
Where springs no rustling grass or leafy shrub,
And yet anon it runs its joyous way,
Thro' pleasant valleys and soft, flowery plains,
'Mid bending groves and prairies measureless.
Far o'er those plains the Indian horseman rides,
Lashing his steed in desperate pursuit
Of the wild buffalo and bounding deer,
Or the fleet antelope that scours the plain.
Free is the hunter of the plains and mounts,
A gallant rider, tall, athletic, brave;
His only food the great game of the wilds;
Ready for feast or battle; prompt to meet
A hostile tribe with war-club and with spear.
But the poor dwellers at Columbia's mouth—
The seashore Chinooks—are a peaceful race,
Idling inert their sluggish lives away,
Their food the salmon-shoals or herbs and roots.
There at the river's mouth spread shallow bays,
With rocky shores all fring'd with marshy isles,
Where droop the willow groves and poplar woods.
Ofttimes those rocky cliffs give place to plains
Where wave majestic groves of pluming pines.
Far up the great Columbian valley spreads,
'Twixt ridges parallel of soaring mounts,
And thro' its heart a bounteous river flows,
Slow wandering, from regions unexplor'd.
Far up Columbia's upper stream sweet airs,
Soft, temperate breezes, blow withgentle sweep;
While vigorous winters, sultry summer heats,
Across the eastern ridge of rocky mounts
Prevail, where snows eternal crown the peaks.
Yet o'er the western valleys and the plains
Serener clime is found, and nightly dews
And humid fogs make verdant all the realm.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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