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V jamie The Country of the Crows, Through which the Big Horn and the Rosebud run,1 Sees over mountain peaks the setting sun; And southward from the Yellowstone flung wide, It broadens ever to the morning side And has the Powder on its vague frontier. About the subtle changing of the year, Ere even favored valleys felt the stir Of Spring, and yet expectancy of her Was like a pleasant rumor all repeat Yet none may prove, the sound of horses’ feet Went eastward through the silence of that land. For then it was there rode a little band Of trappers out of Henry’s Post, to bear Dispatches down to Atkinson, and there To furnish out a keelboat for the Horn. And four went lightly, but the fifth seemed worn As with a heavy heart; for that was he Who should have died but did not. Silently He heard the careless parley of his men, And thought of how the Spring should come again, That garish2 strumpet3 with her world-old lure, To waken hope where nothing may endure, To quicken love where loving is betrayed. Yet now and then some dream of Jamie made Slow music in him for a little while; And they who rode beside him saw a smile Glimmer upon that ruined face of gray, As on a winter fog the groping day Pours glory through a momentary rift. Yet never did the gloom that bound him, lift; He seemed as one who feeds upon his heart And finds, despite the bitter and the smart, A little sweetness and is glad for that. Now up the Powder, striking for the Platte4 Across the bleak divide the horsemen went; Attained that river where its course is bent From north to east: and spurring on apace Along the wintry valley, reached the place Where from the west flows in the Laramie. Thence, fearing to encounter with the Ree, They headed eastward through the barren land To where, fleet-footed down a track of sand, The Niobrara races for the morn— A gaunt-loined runner. Here at length was born Upon the southern slopes the baby Spring, A timid, fretful, ill-begotten thing, A-suckle at the Winter’s withered paps:5 Not such as when announced by thunder-claps And ringed with swords of lightning, she would ride, The haughty victrix6 and the mystic bride, Clad splendidly as never Sheba’s Queen, 193 Jamie Before her marching multitudes of green In many-bannered triumph!7 Grudging, slow, Amid the fraying fringes of the snow The bunch-grass sprouted; and the air was chill. Along the northern slopes ’twas winter still, And no root dreamed what Triumph-over-Death Was nurtured now in some bleak Nazareth Beyond the crest to sunward.8 On they spurred Through vacancies that waited for the bird, And everywhere the Odic Presence9 dwelt. The Southwest blew, the snow began to melt; And when they reached the valley of the Snake,10 The Niobrara’s ice began to break, And all night long and all day long it made A sound as of a random cannonade11 With rifles snarling down a skirmish line.12 The geese went over. Every tree and vine Was dotted thick with leaf-buds when they saw The little river of Keyapaha13 Grown mighty for the moment. Then they came, One evening when all thickets were aflame With pale green witch-fires14 and the windflowers15 blew, To where the headlong Niobrara threw His speed against the swoln Missouri’s flank And hurled him roaring to the further bank— A giant staggered by a pigmy’s sling.16 Thence, plunging ever deeper into Spring, Across the greening prairie east by south They rode, and, just above the Platte’s wide mouth, Came, weary with the trail, to Atkinson. 194 the song of hugh glass There all the vernal wonder-work was done: No care-free heart might find aught lacking there. The dove’s call wandered in the drowsy air; A love-dream brooded in the lucent haze. Priapic revellers,17 the shrieking jays Held mystic worship in the secret shade. Woodpeckers briskly plied their noisy trade Along the tree-boles,18 and their scarlet hoods Flashed flame-like in the smoky cottonwoods. What lacked? Not sweetness in the sun-lulled breeze; The plum bloom murmurous with bumblebees Was drifted deep in every draw and slough. Not color; witcheries of gold and blue The dandelion and the violet Wove in...


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