THE FLIGHT OF THE BUFFALO a Poem
THE FLIGHT OF THE BUFFALO
WHERE vast and far the rustling grass burns with its russet stain,
O'er prairies lone, beyond the throne, of Rocky Mountain chain,
The lowing herds, the league-long herds, of bisons roam the wild,
By streams serene, by meadows green, and where great cliffs are pil'd;
By willowy nook of crystal brook, along each ice-cold brink,
The wallowing crowd, with bellowiugs loud, the gelid nectar drink;
The juicy seeds, the tufted meads, delight their browsing ranks,
Where scarlet flowers and tangled bowers, drape all the bloomy banks.
In sluggish ease, beneath the trees, they pass the idle days,
While gleams the flood and glows the wood in early autumn's haze;
But when the breath of wintry death from pallid Northland blows,
And drift from out celestial domes the flaky, fluttering snows,
Then wide across those prairie-worlds, by hillock, crag, and lake,
Their armies vast, defiling past, their long migrations take;
In lengthen'd line, those savage kine, impetuously pour,
As torrent swift, with wrack and drift, sweeps by a sullen shore.
The hoar-frost white spreads wasteful blight o'er smiling nature's face,
And thin and dry the grasses sigh, wide o'er the pasture's space;
So, over hill, through pool and rill, the crowding squadrons flow,
With heavy tramp, like routed camp, when storm'd by raging foe.
On either flank, with clang and clank, each patriarchal sire,
With lashing tail and coat of mail and eyeball's flaming fire,
With forehead large, like iron targe, and horn like steely lance;
With flowing manes, like hurricanes lead on the grand advance.
But hark ! a yell! those fiends of hell, the Indian tribes, are out
The desert steed of matchless breed is galloping on their route;
With braudish'd spear, in fierce career, the impish riders wheel,
The bow is strung, the lance is flung—the cruel, crashing steel.
The pistol rings, the bullet sings, demoniac whoopings swell;
Those Arabs of the prairies exult with shriek and yell.
Vain all the flight, vain all the fight, the vengeful charges vain;
The bulls are down and corses brown incarnadine the plain.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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