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XIV the death of crazy horse And now ’twas done. Spring1 found the waiting fort at Robinson A half-moon ere the Little Powder knew; And, doubting still that Crazy Horse might do When tempted by the herald geese a-wing To join the green rebellion of the spring, The whole frontier was troubled. April came, And once again his undefeated name Rode every wind. Ingeniously the West Wrought verities2 from what the East had guessed Of what the North knew. Eagerly deceived, The waiting South progressively believed The wilder story.3 April wore away; Fleet couriers, arriving day by day With but the farthing mintage of the fact,4 Bought credit slowly in that no one lacked The easy gold of marvelous surmise. For, gazing northward where the secret skies Were moody with a coming long deferred, Whoever spoke of Crazy Horse, still heard Ten thousand hoofs. But yonder, with the crow And kiote to applaud his pomp of woe, The last great Sioux rode down to his defeat. And now his people huddled in the sleet Where Dog Creek and the Little Powder met, With faces ever sharper for the whet Of hunger, silent in the driving rains, They straggled out across the blackened plains Where Inyan Kara, mystically old, Drew back a cloudy curtain to behold, Serene with Time’s indifference to men. And now they tarried on the North Cheyenne5 To graze their feeble ponies, for the news Of April there had wakened in the sloughs A glimmering of pity long denied. Nor would their trail across the bare divide Grow dimmer with the summer, for the bleach Of dwindled herds—so hard it was to reach The South Cheyenne. O sad it was to hear How all the pent-up music of the year Surged northward there the way it used to do! In vain the catbird6 scolded at the Sioux; The timid pewee queried them in vain; Nor might they harken to the whooping crane Nor heed the high geese calling them to come. Unwelcome waifs7 of winter, drab and dumb, Where ecstasy of sap and thrill of wing Made shift to flaunt some color or to sing The birth of joy, they toiled a weary way. And giddy April sobered into May Before they topped the summit looking down Upon the valley of the soldier’s town At Robinson.8 Then eerily began Among the lean-jowled warriors in the van The chant of peace, a supplicating wail 476 the song of the indian wars That spread along the clutter of the trail Until the last bent straggler sang alone; And camp dogs, hunger-bitten to the bone, Accused the heavens with a doleful sound; But, silent still, with noses to the ground, The laden ponies toiled to cheat the crows, And famine, like a wag, had made of those A grisly jest. So Crazy Horse came in With twice a thousand beggars.9 And the din Died out, though here and there a dog still howled, For now the mighty one, whom Fate had fouled, Dismounted, faced the silent double row Of soldiers haughty with the glint and glow Of steel and brass. A little while he stood As though bewildered in a haunted wood Of men and rifles all astare with eyes. They saw a giant shrunken to the size Of any sergeant. Now he met the glare Of Dull Knife and his warriors waiting there With fingers itching at the trigger-guard.10 How many comrade faces, strangely hard, Were turned upon him! Ruefully he smiled, The doubtful supplication of a child Caught guilty; loosed his bonnet from his head And cast it down. “I come for peace,” he said; “Now let my people eat.” And that was all.11 The summer ripened. Presages12 of fall Now wanted nothing but the goose’s flight. The goldenrods had made their torches bright 477 The Death of Crazy Horse Against the ghostly imminence13 of frost. And one, long brooding on a birthright lost, Remembered and remembered.14 O the time When all the prairie world was white with rime15 Of mornings, and the lodge smoke towered straight To meet the sunlight, coming over late For happy hunting! O the days, the days When winds kept silence in the far blue haze To hear the deep-grassed valleys running full With fatling cows, and thunders of the bull Across the hills! Nights given to the feast When big round moons came smiling up...

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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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