Imagini ale paginilor

prepared by nature; a splendid specimen of massy architecture, and the distant view of villages, are alone wanting to render the similitude complete.

In the summer, the prairie is covered with long, coarse grass, which soon assumes a golden hue, and waves in the wind like a ripe harvest. Those who have not a personal knowledge of the subject, would be deceived by the accounts which are published of the hight of the grass. It is seldom so tall as travelers have represented, nor does it attain its highest growth in the richest soil. In the low, wet prairies, where the substratum of clay lies near the surface, the center or main stem of this grass, which bears the seed, acquires great thickness, and shoots up to the hight of eight or nine feet, throwing out a few, long, coarse leaves or blades, and the traveler often finds it higher than his head, as he rides through it on horseback. The first coat of grass is mingled with small flowers, the violet, the bloom of the strawberry, and others of the most minute and delicate texture. As the grass increases in size, these disappear, and others, taller and more gaudy, display their brilliant colors upon the green surface, and still later, a larger and coarser succession rises with the rising tide of verdure. The whole of the surface of these beautiful plains, is clad throughout the season of verdure, with every imaginable variety of color, "from grave to gay." It is impossible to conceive a more infinite diversity, or a richer profusion of hues, or to detect any predominating tint, except the green, which forms the beautiful ground, and relieves the exquisite brilliancy of all the others.

In the winter, the prairies present a gloomy and desolate scene. The fire has passed over them, and consumed every vegetable substance, leaving the soil bare, and the surface perfectly black. That gracefully waving outline, which was so attractive to the eye when clad in green, is now disrobed of all its ornaments; its fragrance, its notes of joy, and the graces of its landscape, have all vanished, and the bosom of the cold earth, scorched and discolored, is alone visible. The wind sighs mournfully over the black plain; but there is no object to be moved by its influence; not a tree to wave its long arms in the blast, nor a reed to bend its fragile stem; not a leaf, nor even a blade of grass to tremble in the breeze.

There is nothing to be seen but the cold, dead earth and the bare mound, which move not; and the traveler with a singular sensation, almost of awe, feels the blast rushing over him, while not an object visible to the eye, is seen to stir. Accustomed as the mind is to associate with the action of the wind its operation upon surrounding objects, and to see nature bowing and trembling, and the fragments of matter mounting upon the wind, as the storm passes, there is a novel effect produced on the mind of one who feels the current of air rolling heavily over him, while nothing moves around.




THESE are the gardens of the desert, these
The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
For which the speech of England has no name;
The Prairies. I behold them for the first,
And my heart swells, while the dilated sight
Takes in the encircling vastness. Lo! they stretch
In airy undulations, far away,

As if the ocean, in his gentlest swell,

Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed,
And motionless for ever. Motionless?
No, they are all unchained again. The clouds
Sweep over with their shadows, and, beneath,
The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye;
Dark hollows seem to glide along, and chase
The sunny ridges.

Breezes of the South!

Who toss the golden and the flame-like flowers,

And pass the prairie-hawk, that, poised on high,
Flaps his broad wings, yet moves not! ye have played

Among the palms of Mexico, and vines

Of Texas, and have crisped the limpid brooks

That from the fountains of Sonora glide

Into the calm Pacific; have ye fanned

A nobler or a lovlier scene than this?

Man hath no part in all this glorious work:

The hand that built the firmament hath heaved

And smoothed these verdant swells, and sown their slopes

With herbage, planted them with island

groves, And hedged them round with forests. Fitting floor For this magnificent temple of the sky,

With flowers whose glory and whose multitude
Rival the constellations! The great heavens
Seem to stoop down upon the scene in love;
A nearer vault, and of a tenderer blue,
Than that which bends above the eastern hills.

As o'er the verdant waste I guide my steed,
Among the high, rank grass that sweeps his sides,
The hollow beating of his footsteps seems

A sacrilegious sound. I think of those
Upon whose rest he tramples. Are they here,
The dead of other days? And did the dust
Of these fair solitudes once stir with life,

And burn with passion? Let the mighty mounds
'That overlook the rivers, or that rise

In the dim forest, crowded with old oaks,

A race that long has passed away

Built them; a disciplined and populous race

Heaped, with long toil, the earth, while yet the Greek Was hewing the Pentelicus to forms

Of symmetry, and rearing on its rock

The glittering Parthenon. These ample fields
Nourished their harvests, here their herds were fed,
When haply by their stalls the bison lowed,
And bowed his maned shoulder to the yoke.
All day this desert murmured with their toils,
Till twilight blushed, and lovers walked, and wooed
In a forgotten language, and old tunes,

From instruments of unremembered form,
Give the soft winds a voice.

The red man came,

The roaming hunter tribes, warlike and fierce,
And the mound-builders vanished from the earth.
The solitude of centuries untold

Has settled where they dwelt. The prairie-wolf
Hunts in their meadows, and his fresh-dug den
Yawns by my path. The gopher mines the ground
Where stood their swarming cities. All is gone;
All,-save the piles of earth that hold their bones;
The platforms where they worshiped unknown gods;

The barriers which they builded from the soil
To keep the foe at bay, till o'er the walls
The wild beleaguerers broke, and, one by one,

The strongholds of the plain were forced, and heaped
With corpses.

The brown vultures of the wood

Flocked to those vast uncovered sepulchers,

And sat, unscared and silent, at their feast.
Haply, some solitary fugitive,

Lurking in marsh and forest, till the sense
Of desolation and of fear became

Bitterer than death, yielded himself to die.
Man's better nature triumphed. Kindly words
Welcomed and soothed him; the rude conquerors
Seated the captive with their chiefs; he chose
A bride among their maidens, and, at length,
Seemed to forget-yet ne'er forgot the wife
Of his first love, and her sweet little ones
Butchered, amid their shrieks, with all his race.

Thus change the forms of being. Thus arise
Races of living things, glorious in strength,
And perish, as the quickening breath of God
Fills them, or is withdrawn. The red man, too,
Has left the blooming wilds he ranged so long,
And, nearer to the Rocky Mountains, sought
A wider hunting-ground. The beaver builds
No longer by these streams, but far away,
On waters whose blue surface ne'er gave back
The white man's face; among Missouri's springs,
And pools whose issues swell the Oregon,

He rears his little Venice. In these plains
The bison feeds no more.

Twice twenty leagues
Beyond remotest smoke of hunter's camp,
Roams the majestic brute, in herds that shake
The earth with thundering steps; yet here I meet
His ancient footprints stamped beside the pool.

Still this great solitude is quick with life.
Myriads of insects, gaudy as the flowers

They flutter over, gentle quadrupeds,

And birds that scarce have learned the fear of man.
Are here, and sliding reptiles of the ground,
Startlingly beautiful. The graceful deer
Bounds to the wood at my approach. The bee,

A more adventurous colonist than man,
With whom he came across the eastern deep,
Fills the savannas with his murmurings,
And hides his sweets, as in the golden age,
Within the hollow oak. I listen long
To his domestic hum, and think I hear
The sound of that advancing multitude

Which soon shall fill the deserts. From the ground
Comes up the laugh of children, the soft voice
Of maidens, and the sweet and solemn hymn
Of Sabbath worshipers. The low of herds
Blends with the rustling of the heavy grain
Over the dark-brown furrows. All at once
A fresher wind sweeps by, and breaks my dream,
And I am in the wilderness alone.




WHATEVER leads our minds habitually to the Author of the universe; whatever mingles the voice of nature with the revelation of the Gospel; whatever teaches us to see, in all the changes of the world, the varied goodness of Him, in whom


we live, and move, and have our being," brings us nearer to the spirit of the Savior of mankind. But it is not only as encouraging a sincere devotion, that these reflections are favorable to Christianity; there is something moreover peculiarly allied to its spirit in such observations of external nature.

When our Savior prepared himself for his temptation, his agony, and death, he retired to the wilderness of Judea, to inhale, we may venture to believe, a holier spirit amid its solitary scenes, and to approach to a nearer communion with his Father amid the sublimest of his works. It is with similar feelings, and to worship the same Father, that the Christian is permitted to enter the temple of nature; and, by the spirit of his religion, there is a language infused into the objects which she presents, unknown to the worshiper of former times.

To all, indeed, the same objects appear, the same sun shines, the same heavens are open; but to the Christian alone it is permitted to know the Author of these things; to see his spirit

« ÎnapoiContinuă »