The purpling twilight’s melting blue
Is fading with its transient hue;
The red cloud that erewhile’ did float
The heavenly vault like painted boat,
Now with a denser shadow creeps
Across the darkening upper deeps.
The glow that late the river’s tide
With its encrimson’d blushes dyed,
Hath vanish’d, and the rushing flood,
Flows gloomy past the bordering wood;
Now to their roosts wild turkeys stray,
And ambush’d hunters seek their prey.
This wandering, shy, secluded bird,
This roamer of the forest-ground,
Thro’ all the Western wilderness,
In dense, embowering haunt is found.
In all the groves that shade the shores
Of Mississippi’s swelling flood,
And where the grand Missouri pours,
Thro’ every dim and tangled wood,
In multitudes immense they roam
Afar from human step and home.
So shy that scarce the hunter’s gun
May harm them, bursting on the wing;
So fleet that scarce pursuing steed
Its rider within shot may bring;
But only may he lie in wait,
Like bandit watching for his game,
And lure the victims to their fate ---
The whistling ball, the rifle-flame.
Seek them where gloomy shadows fall
Beneath the forests grim and tall,
In the deep alder-brakes, or where
The dark pines lift their spears in the air,
And there where slow a streamlet creeps,
Or swift through bushy raving sweeps,
Hid in the ferns that droop around,
Your call deceptive, cautious sound;
Soon will you hear the answering note
From the embowering thickets float,
Soon will you see the noble game
Step forth – Then steady be your aim!
All stratagems, all cunning wiles,
The settlers fail not employ;
For when the springing maize-field smiles,
Their flocks the tender ears destroy;
Then trench is dug, and train is led
Of sprinkled corn along the trail,
And where treacherous feast is spread
The flock is swept with volleying hail.
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