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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


By Ernest McGaffey (b. 1861)

[Born in London, Ohio, 1861. Uncollected Poems. 1885–89.]

OVER the long, rich, billowy grass, up and down are the footsteps flying,

Of viewless winds that pass and leave no token of their flight;

With never a tree to mar the stretch of the prairie around me lying,

A dark-green sea, whose rolling waves the sun has tipped with light.

The iron-weed sways on the wind-swept ridge, the wild rose blooms in the hollow,

A hawk wheels round in circling sweep through trackless paths on high,

And over the grass the breezes go and the tremulous echoes follow,

Filling the crannies of eddying winds from earth to sky.

Horizon-ward and far to the west, like the smoke of a distant steamer

Mounting slowly up the skies, on the steps of a hidden stair,

Vague, so vague, as vague and dim as the dream of an idle dreamer.

A curling cloud-wraith, spiral formed, is rising through the air.

Sun and wind, and the far-off sky; the sun that shines and the wind that passes;

The life that is, and beyond the clouds the life that is to be—

Dreams; all dreams; that come and go, as the wind’s light foot-prints over the grasses,

What is my life but a drop of rain that falls in a shoreless sea?