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The Song of Hugh Glass To Sigurd, scarcely three When you are old enough to know The joys of kite and boat and bow And other suchlike splendid things That boyhood’s rounded decade brings, I shall not give you tropes and rhymes; But, rising to those rousing times, I shall ply well the craft I know Of shaping kite and boat and bow, For you shall teach me once again The goodly art of being ten. Meanwhile, as on a rainy day When ’tis not possible to play, The while you do your best to grow I ply the other craft I know And strive to build for you the mood Of daring and of fortitude With fitted word and shapen phrase, Against those later wonder-days When first you glimpse the world of men Beyond the bleaker side of ten. I graybeard and goldhair The year was eighteen hundred twenty three.1 ’Twas when the guns that blustered at the Ree Had ceased to brag, and ten score martial clowns2 Retreated from the unwhipped3 river towns, Amid the scornful laughter of the Sioux. A withering blast the arid South still blew, And creeks ran thin beneath the glaring sky; For ’twas a month ere honking geese would fly Southward before the Great White Hunter’s face:4 And many generations of their race, As bow-flung arrows, now have fallen spent. It happened then that Major Henry5 went With eighty trappers up the dwindling Grand,6 Bound through the weird, unfriending barren-land For where the Big Horn7 meets the Yellowstone;8 And old9 Hugh Glass went with them. Large of bone, Deep-chested, that his great heart might have play, Gray-bearded, gray of eye and crowned with gray Was Glass. It seemed he never had been young; And, for the grudging habit of his tongue, None knew the place or season of his birth.10 Slowly he ’woke to anger or to mirth; Yet none laughed louder when the rare mood fell, And hate in him was like a still, white hell, A thing of doom not lightly reconciled. What memory he kept of wife or child Was never told; for when his comrades sat About the evening fire with pipe and chat, Exchanging talk of home and gentler days, Old Hugh stared long upon the pictured blaze, And what he saw went upward in the smoke. But once, as with an inner lightning stroke, The veil was rent,11 and briefly men discerned What pent-up fires of selfless passion burned Beneath the still gray smoldering of him. There was a rakehell12 lad, called Little Jim, Jamie or Petit Jacques; for scarce began The downy beard to mark him for a man. Blue-eyed was he and femininely fair. A maiden might have coveted his hair That trapped the sunlight in its tangled skein:13 So, tardily, outflowered the wild blond strain That gutted Rome grown overfat in sloth.14 A Ganymedes haunted by a Goth15 Was Jamie. When the restive16 ghost was laid, He seemed some fancy-ridden child who played At manliness ’mid all those bearded men. The sternest heart was drawn to Jamie then. But his one mood ne’er linked two hours together. To schedule Jamie’s way, as prairie weather, Was to get fact by wedding doubt and whim;17 For very slightly slept that ghost in him. No cloudy brooding went before his wrath That, like a thunder-squall,18 recked19 not its path, 106 the song of hugh glass But raged upon what happened in its way. Some called him brave who saw him on that day When Ashley stormed a bluff town of the Ree, And all save beardless Jamie turned to flee For shelter from that steep, lead-harrowed20 slope. Yet, hardly courage, but blind rage agrope Inspired the foolish deed. ’Twas then old Hugh Tore off the gray mask, and the heart shone through. For, halting in a dry, flood-guttered draw, The trappers rallied, looked aloft and saw That travesty21 of war against the sky. Out of a breathless hush, the old man’s cry Leaped shivering, an anguished cry and wild As of some mother fearing for her child, And up the steep he went with mighty bounds. Long afterward the story went the rounds, How old Glass fought that day. With gun for club, Grim as a grizzly fighting for a cub, He laid about him, cleared the way, and so, Supported...

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