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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Western States: Prairies, The

A Prairie Ride

By Margaret Stewart Sibley

ACROSS the prairie, toward the west,

We rode at day’s declining:

What radiant pictures we beheld,

In heavenly ether shining!

How blends the purple, rosy light,

And melts into the golden,

Across the azure, crimson bars,

Like some escutcheon olden.

The prairie seems a grassy lake

Where countless islets cluster;

Green sumac clumps, that wear not yet

The autumn’s scarlet lustre.


The varied tints of budding leaves,

The long, cool shadows lying

Across the grass, weird shapes of clouds

Before the breezes flying;

The plaintive call of whippoorwill,

The mourning dove’s complaining,

The doleful tale the katydid

Repeats, no answer gaining;

Each sight, each sound our souls possess

With sense of summer’s being;

And Nature wears her choicest dress

For those with eyes for seeing!

The splendor fades, the amber pales

To neutral tint uncertain,

And swiftly, fold on fold, descends

The evening’s sombre curtain.

But still our good steeds gallop on

O’er phloxes and verbenas;

The quiet holds us like a charm,

No word is said between us.

Sweet stars above, sweet flowers beneath,

Shine in the twilight faintly,

While rising in the dusky east

The moon glows white and saintly.

We turn our horses’ heads for home,

Beneath the wind’s cool kisses:

Will life or earth e’er yield again

A joy as pure as this is?