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The Song of the Indian Wars To Alice, three years old When I began the gift I bear It seemed you weren’t anywhere; But being younger now I know How even fifty moons ago The apple bloom began to seek The proper tinting for a cheek; The skies, aware of thrilling news, Displayed the loveliest of blues For whoso fashions eyes to choose. And all that prehistoric spring Experimental grace of wing And tentatively shapen forms, From crocuses to thunderstorms And happy sound and sunny glow Rehearsed you fifty moons ago. Why, even I was toiling too Upon a little gift for you! And now that we are wise and three, And I love you and you love me, We know the whole conspiracy! I the sowing of the dragon At last the four year storm of fratricide1 Had ceased at Appomattox,2 and the tide Of war-bit myriads, like a turning sea’s, Recoiled upon the deep realities That yield no foam to any squall of change.3 Now many a hearth of home had gotten strange To eyes that knew sky-painting flares of war.4 So much that once repaid the striving for No longer mattered.5 Yonder road that ran At hazard once beyond the ways of Man By haunted vale and space-enchanted hill, Had never dreamed of aught6 but Jones’s Mill7 — A dull pedestrian! The spring, where erst8 The peering plowboy sensed a larger thirst, Had shoaled9 from awe, so long the man had drunk At deeper floods. How yonder field had shrunk That billowed once mysteriously far To where the cow-lot nursed the evening star And neighbored with the drowsing moon and sun! For O what winds of wrath had boomed and run Across what vaster fields of moaning grain— Rich seedings, nurtured by a ghastly rain To woeful harvest!10 So the world went small. But ’mid the wreck of things remembered tall An epidemic rumor murmured now. Men leaned upon the handles of the plow To hear and dream; and through the harrow-smoke The weird voice muttered and the vision broke Of distant, princely acres unpossessed.11 Again the bugles of the Race blew west That once the Tigris and Euphrates heard.12 In unsuspected deeps of being stirred The ancient and compelling Aryan13 urge. A homing of the homeless, surge on surge, The valley roads ran wagons, and the hills Through lane and by-way fed with trickling rills14 The man-stream mighty with a mystic thaw.15 All summer now the Mississippi saw What long ago the Hellespont16 beheld. The shrewd, prophetic eyes that peered of eld17 Across the Danube,18 visioned naked plains Beyond the bleak Missouri, clad with grains, Jewelled with orchard, grove and greening garth— Serene abundance centered in a hearth To nurture lusty children. On they swirled, The driving breed, the takers of the world, The makers and the bringers of the law. Now up along the bottoms of the Kaw19 The drifting reek of wheel and hoof arose. The kiotes talked about it and the crows Along the lone Republican; and still The bison saw it on the Smoky Hill 314 the song of the indian wars And Solomon;20 while yonder on the Platte Ten thousand wagons scarred the sandy flat Between the green grass season and the brown.21 A name sufficed to make the camp a town,22 A whim23 unmade. In spaces wide as air, And late as empty, now the virile share Quickened24 the virgin meadow-lands of God; And lo, begotten of the selfsame sod, The house and harvest!25 So the Cadmian breed, The wedders of the vision and the deed Went forth to sow the dragon-seed again. But there were those—and they were also men26 — Who saw the end of sacred things and dear In all this wild beginning; saw with fear Ancestral pastures gutted by the plow, The bison harried ceaselessly, and how They dwindled moon by moon; with pious dread Beheld the holy places of their dead The mock of aliens. Sioux, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa and Crow In many a council pondered what befell The prairie world. Along the Musselshell,27 The Tongue, the Niobrara, all they said Upon the Platte, the Arkansaw, the Red Was echoed word by peril-laden word. Along the Pope Agie28 and the Horn they heard The clank of hammers and the clang of rails Where hordes of white men conjured...


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MARC Record
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