ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPORTS a Poem
ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPORTS
‘MID airy summits of the Rocky Mounts,
'Mid craggy ridges inaccessible
To hunter's foot or daring trapper's tread,
Far in the worlds of everlasting snows,
Leaps from rock to rock, from cliff to cliff,
The short-horu'd, fleecy mountain-goat,
Roams at free-will the desert solitudes.
Well may this wild, swift-footed creature hold
His refuge and his home amid the wastes,
Haply secure from lurking Indian's shaft
Or rifle of the hunter of the deer;
For, in those savage realms, 'tis perilous
For step of hunter to invade the waste,
To scale the jutting cliffs, to plunge
In dark ravines and gulches of the hills,
To cross untrampled hillocks of the snows,
Where, 'neath the brittle crust, some hidden chasm
May plunge th' unwary foot in endless death.
And here the wild flocks rove; they crop the grass,—
The short, sweet grasses of the mountain-slopes,
Kept ever verdant by dissolving drifts;
And there, in cavern'd arch or grotto dim,
They drink the crystal brook, and rest at night.
Though ever watchful, perch'd on some bleak cliff,
Where only the bald-eagle sweeps his vans,
With no low bush or stunted tree to yield
A covert to the hunter, yet unseen
The stalking trapper scales the stony height,
And daring soldier from the frontier fort
Climbs the steep cliff, and creeps from rock to rock,
And from some grassy rampart fires the shot.
There, too, among the valleys far below,
That with their flowery slopes and hanging woods
And winding rivers fringe the mountain base,
The prong-horn'd, slender antelope is found;
A wondrous creature, fleet as flight of bird,
He sweeps the boundless pastures with a speed
That mocks the fastest horse, the swiftest hound,
And yet he falls a victim to the arts
And arms of the all-conquering hunter.
The Indian and the trapper seek his haunts;
And soldier who has dar'd the dangerous march,
And all the perils of the wilderness,
Follows, with patient toil, his devious tracks.
There, too, that dreaded monarch of the wild,
The fierce, despotic, sanguinary bear—
The mighty grizzly bear—has made his haunt;
So fierce in aspect, so immense in size,
Cruel in rage, majestic in his tread,—
He rules, the undisputed lord of all,
The wild king of the waste, defying man! '
The Indian fears him, and to lay him low
Is his grand triumph and his life-long boast;
Yet the white hunter meets him face to face,
And with th' unerring rifle wins the fight.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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