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III the crawl Straight away Beneath the flare of dawn, the Ree land lay, And through it ran the short trail to the goal. Thereon a grim turnpikeman1 waited toll: But ’twas so doomed that southering geese should flee Nine times, ere yet the vengeance of the Ree Should make their foe the haunter of a tale.2 Midway to safety on the northern trail The scoriac3 region of a hell burned black Forbade the crawler. And for all his lack, Hugh had no heart to journey with the suns: No suppliant4 unto those faithless ones5 Should bid for pity at the Big Horn’s mouth.6 The greater odds for safety in the South Allured him; so he felt the midday sun Blaze down the coulee7 of a little run That dwindled upward to the watershed Whereon the feeders8 of the Moreau head— Scarce more than deep-carved runes9 of vernal10 rain. The trailing leg was like a galling chain,11 And bound him to a doubt that would not pass. Defiant clumps of thirst-embittered grass That bit parched earth with bared and fang-like roots; Dwarf thickets, jealous for their stunted fruits, Harsh-tempered by their disinheritance— These symbolized the enmity12 of Chance For him who, with his fate unreconciled, Equipped for travel as a weanling13 child, Essayed14 the journey of a mighty man. Like agitated oil the heat-waves ran And made the scabrous15 gulch appear to shake As some reflected landscape in a lake Where laggard breezes move. A taunting reek Rose from the grudging seepage of the creek, Whereof Hugh drank and drank, and still would drink. And where the mottled16 shadow dripped as ink From scanty thickets on the yellow glare, The crawler faltered with no heart to dare Again the torture of that toil, until The master-thought of vengeance ’woke the will To goad him forth. And when the sun quiesced17 Amid ironic heavens in the West— The region of false friends—Hugh gained a rise Whence to the fading cincture18 of the skies A purpling panorama swept away. Scarce farther than a shout might carry, lay The place of his betrayal. He could see The yellow blotch of earth where treachery Had digged his grave. O futile wrath and toil! Tucked in beneath yon coverlet of soil, Turned back for him, how soundly had he slept! Fool, fool! to struggle when he might have crept So short a space, yet farther than the flight Of swiftest dreaming through the longest night, Into the quiet house of no false friend. 135 The Crawl Alas for those who seek a journey’s end— They have it ever with them like a ghost: Nor shall they find, who deem they seek it most, But crave the end of human ends—as Hugh. Now swoopingly the world of dream broke through The figured wall of sense. It seemed he ran As wind above the creeping ways of man, And came upon the place of his desire, Where burned, far-luring as a beacon-fire, The face of Jamie. But the vengeful stroke Bit air. The darkness lifted like a smoke— And it was early morning. Gazing far, From where the West yet kept a pallid19 star To thinner sky where dawn was wearing through, Hugh shrank with dread, reluctant to renew The war with that serene antagonist. More fearsome than a smashing iron fist Seemed that vast negativity of might; Until the frustrate20 vision of the night Came moonwise on the gloom of his despair. And lo, the foe was naught but yielding air, A vacancy to fill with his intent! So from his spacious bed he ’rose and went Three-footed; and the vision goaded him. All morning southward to the bare sky rim The rugged coulee zigzagged, mounting slow; And ever as it ’rose, the lean creek’s flow Dwindled and dwindled steadily, until At last a scooped-out basin would not fill; And thenceforth ’twas a way of mocking dust. 136 the song of hugh glass But, in that Hugh still kept the driving lust For vengeance, this new circumstance of fate Served but to brew more venom for his hate, And nerved him to avail the most with least. Ere noon the crawler chanced upon a feast Of bread-root21 sunning in a favored draw. A sentry gopher from his stronghold saw Some three-legged beast, bear-like, yet not a bear, With quite misguided fury digging where No hapless...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781496207388
Print ISBN
9781496206374
MARC Record
OCLC
1039702821
Pages
726
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-13
Language
English
Open Access
N
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