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

Western States: Rocky Mountains, The

Lines Written on the Rocky Mountains

By Albert Pike (1809–1891)

THE DEEP, transparent sky is full

Of many thousand glittering lights,—

Unnumbered stars that calmly rule

The dark dominions of the night.

The mild, bright moon has upward risen,

Out of the gray and boundless plain,

And all around the white snows glisten,

Where frost and ice and silence reign,—

While ages roll away, and they unchanged remain.

These mountains, piercing the blue sky

With their eternal cones of ice;

The torrents dashing from on high,

O’er rock and crag and precipice;

Change not, but still remain as ever,

Unwasting, deathless, and sublime,

And will remain while lightnings quiver,

Or stars the hoary summits climb,

Or rolls the thunder-chariot of eternal Time.

It is not so with all,—I change,

And waste as with a living death,

Like one that hath become a strange,

Unwelcome guest, and lingereth

Among the memories of the past,

Where he is a forgotten name;

For Time hath greater power to blast

The hopes, the feelings, and the fame,

To make the passions fierce, or their first strength to tame.

The wind comes rushing swift by me,

Pouring its coolness on my brow;

Such was I once,—as proudly free,

And yet, alas! how altered now!

Yet, while I gaze upon yon plain,

These mountains, this eternal sky,

The scenes of boyhood come again,

And pass before the vacant eye,

Still wearing something of their ancient brilliancy.

Yet why complain?—for what is wrong,

False friends, cold-heartedness, deceit,

And life already made too long,

To one who walks with bleeding feet

Over its paths?—it will but make

Death sweeter when it comes at last,—

And though the trampled heart may ache,

Its agony of pain is past,

And calmness gathers there, while life is ebbing fast.

Perhaps, when I have passed away,

Like the sad echo of a dream,

There may be some one found to say

A word that might like sorrow seem.

That I would have,—one saddened tear,

One kindly and regretting thought,—

Grant me but that!—and even here,

Here, in this lone, unpeopled spot,

To breathe away this life of pain, I murmur not.