In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

VI the shooting of the cup Bull-roaring March1 had swept across the land, And now the evangelic goose and crane, Forerunners of the messianic2 Rain, Went crying through the wilderness aloft. Fog hid the sun, and yet the snow grew soft. The monochrome of sky and poplar bough, Drab tracery on drab, was stippled3 now With swelling buds; and slushy water ran Upon the ice-bound river that began To stir and groan as one about to wake. Now, while they waited for the ice to break, The trappers fashioned bull-boats—willow wrought To bowl-like frames, and over these drawn taut Green bison hides with bison sinew sewn. And much they talked about the Yellowstone: How fared their comrades yonder since the fall? And would they marvel at the goodly haul Of beaver pelts these crazy craft should bring?4 And what of Ashley starting north that spring With yet another hundred? Did his prows Already nose the flood?—Ah, cherry boughs About St. Louis now were loud with bees And white with bloom; and wading to the knees, The cattle browsed along the fresh green sloughs! Yes, even now the leaning cordelle crews With word from home (so far away, alas!) Led north the marching armies of the grass, As ’twere the heart of Summertime they towed! So while they shaped the willow frames and sewed The bison hides, the trappers’ hearts were light. They talked no longer now about the fight. That story, shaped and fitted part by part, Unwittingly was rounded into art, And, being art, already it was old. When this bleak time should seem the age of gold, These men, grown gray and garrulous,5 might tell Of wondrous doings on the Musselshell— How Carpenter, the mighty, fought, and how Great Fink went down. But spring was coming now, And who’s for backward looking in the spring? Yet one might see that Mike still felt the sting Of that defeat; for often he would brood, Himself the center of a solitude Wherein the friendly chatter of the band Was like a wind that makes a lonely land Seem lonelier. And much it grieved Talbeau To see a haughty6 comrade humbled so; And, even more, he feared what wounded pride Might bring to pass, before their boats could ride The dawnward reaches of the April floods And leave behind the village of the Bloods; For now it seemed a curse was on the place. Talbeau was like a man who views a race With all to lose: so slowly crept the spring, So surely crawled some formless fatal thing, He knew not what it was. But should it win, 59 The Shooting of the Cup Life could not be again as it had been And spring would scarcely matter any more. The daybreak often found him at the shore, A ghostly figure in the muggy light, Intent to see what progress over night The shackled river made against the chain.7 And then at last, one night, a dream of rain Came vividly upon him. How it poured! A witch’s garden8 was the murk9 that roared With bursting purple bloom. ’Twas April weather, And he and Mike and Bill were boys together Beneath the sounding10 shingle roof at home. He smelled the odor of the drinking loam11 Still rolling mellow from the recent share;12 And he could feel the meadow greening there Beyond the apple orchard. Then he ’woke And raised the flap. A wraith of thunder-smoke Was trailing off along the prairie’s rim. Half dreaming yet, the landscape puzzled him. What made the orchard seem so tall and lean? And surely yonder meadow had been green A moment since! What made it tawny13 now? And yonder where the billows14 of the plow Should glisten fat and sleek—? The drowsy spell Dropped off and left him on the Musselshell Beneath the old familiar load of care. He looked aloft. The stars had faded there. The sky was cloudless. No, one lonely fleece Serenely floated in the spacious peace And from the distance caught prophetic light. 60 the song of three friends In truth he had heard thunder in the night And dashing rain; for all the land was soaked, And where the withered drifts had lingered, smoked The naked soil. But since the storm was gone, How strange that still low thunder mumbled on— An unresolving cadence marred at whiles By dull explosions! Now for miles and miles...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.