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

Introductory to Western States


By Albert Pike (1809–1891)

Sunset in Arkansas

SUNSET again! Behind the massy green

Of the continuous oaks the sun hath fallen,

And his last rays have struggled through, between

The leaf-robed branches, as hopes intervene

Amid grave cares. The western sky is wallen

With shadowy mountains, built upon the marge

Of the horizon, from eve’s purple sheen,

And thin, gray clouds, that insolently lean

Their silver cones upon the crimson verge

Of the high zenith, while their unseen base

Is rocked by lightning. It will show its eye

When dusky Night comes. Eastward, you can trace

No stain, no spot of cloud upon a sky,

Pure as an angel’s brow.

The winds have folded up their swift wings now,

And, all asleep, high up in their cloud-cradles lie.

Beneath the trees, the dusky, purple glooms

Are growing deeper, more material,

In windless solitude. The young flower-blooms

Richly exhale their thin, invisible plumes

Of odor, which they yield not at the call

Of the hot sun. The birds all sleep within

Unshaken nests; save the gray owl, that booms

His plaintive cry, like one that mourns strange dooms;

And the sad whippoorwill, with lonely din.

There is a deep, calm beauty all around,

A heavy, massive, melancholy look,

A unison of lonely sight and sound,

Which touch us, till the soul can hardly brook

Its own sad feelings here.

They do not wring from the full heart a tear,

But give us heavy thoughts, like reading a sad book.