Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Night on the Arkansas

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

Western States: Arkansas, the River

Night on the Arkansas

By Albert Pike (1809–1891)


NIGHT comes upon the Arkansas, with long stride.

Its dark and turbid waters roll along,

Bearing wrecked trees and drift, deep, red, and wide;

The heavy forest sleeps on either side,

To the water’s edge low-stooping; and among

The patient stars the moon her lamp has hung,

Fed with the spirit of the buried sun.

No blue waves dance the stream’s dark mass upon,

Glittering like Beauty’s sparkling, starry tears;

No crest of foam, crowning the river dun,

Its misty ridge of frozen light uprears;

One sole relief in the great void appears:

A dark blue ridge, set sharp against the sky,

Beyond the forest’s utmost boundary.