PRAIRIE-CHICKEN SHOOTING a Poem
far the warm September days
Flush o'er the prairies with their blaze,-
September, with its memories
Of healthful breeze and genial skies;
For now is nature in her prime,
The glorious September time,
When torrid heats of summer glare
Are temper'd in the liberal air,
And in its latest days there blows
The first breath of the northern snows.
The year yet wears its robe of green,
Nor fading, yellow leaf is seen ;
The orchards have not cast aside
Their emerald dress of summer pride,
The wayside flowers of hedge and lane
Are tinted by no frosty stain ;
Yet all the harvest fields lie bare
Where late the golden wheat-shocks were,
And oat and rye are gather'd in
To fill the granaries' crowded bin;
So there the greedy grouse-flocks feed,
Luxurious, on the juicy seed.
In yellow stubble-fields they hide,
Scarce by the gunner's eye descried,
Till the keen scent of pointer true
Detects those coveys hid from view,
And then on clashing, startled wing
They rise, and frighten'd, upward spring;
But quick the pealing shot is heard,
And bleeding, lifeless, drops the bird.
Years since I roam'd thy broad domain,
0 Illinois, thy grassy plain,
Roam'd in September's perfect day
Thro' endless pastures far away.
Though vanish'd long hath many a year
Since then I trod those stubbles sere,
Since by Fox River's pleasant shore,
Or where Rock River's currents pour,
1 wander'd, watchful for the sight
Of teal and wood-duck in their flight;
But ah! the blissful joy to tread
Where'er my devious footsteps led!
To seek tiie grouse-packs in their lair
And end their little lives in air;
In weedy coverts to arouse
The shy, the strong-wing'd speckled grouse;
To seek them out at blush of morn,
Ere they forsook the ripen'd corn,
To seek in coverts of the swale
The russet bevies of the quail,
To seek in boggy marsh and swamp
The woodcock's solitary camp.
When winter snows lie white and deep
In many a drifted, shapeless heap,
Those prairie fowl, no longer found
In fields, their autumn feeding-ground,
In shivering, gather'd legions seek
The tree-top branches, bare and bleak,
Or cluster in long rows where wide
The fence-rails welcome rest supplied;
And there, close hidden, in his blind,
The fowler ample spoil would find.
Though years have whiten'd with their snow,
—Time's blossoms—wilher'd cheek and brow,
Yet still in memory's magic glass
Those blissful scenes unfading pass,
Nor may they fade, as fades the past,
Till life is reuder'd up at last.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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