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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

On Recrossing the Rocky Mountains in Winter after Many Years

By John Charles Frémont (1813–1890)

LONG years ago I wandered here,

In the midsummer of the year,—

Life’s summer too;

A score of horsemen here we rode,

The mountain world its glories showed,

All fair to view.

These scenes in glowing colors drest,

Mirrored the life within my breast,

Its world of hopes;

The whispering woods and fragrant breeze

That stirred the grass in verdant seas

On billowy slopes,

And glistening crag in sunlit sky,

Mid snowy clouds piled mountains high,

Were joys to me;

My path was o’er the prairie wide,

Or here on grander mountain-side,

To choose, all free.

The rose that waved in morning air,

And spread its dewy fragrance there

In careless bloom,

Gave to my heart its ruddiest hue,

O’er my glad life its color threw

And sweet perfume.

Now changed the scene and changed the eyes,

That here once looked on glowing skies,

Where summer smiled;

These riven trees, this wind-swept plain,

Now show the winter’s dread domain,

Its fury wild.

The rocks rise black from storm-packed snow,

All checked the river’s pleasant flow,

Vanished the bloom;

These dreary wastes of frozen plain

Reflect my bosom’s life again,

Now lonesome gloom.

The buoyant hopes and busy life

Have ended all in hateful strife,

And thwarted aim.

The world’s rude contact killed the rose,

No more its radiant color shows

False roads to fame.

Backward, amidst the twilight glow

Some lingering spots yet brightly show

On hard roads won,

Where still some grand peaks mark the way

Touched by the light of parting day

And memory’s sun.

But here thick clouds the mountains hide,

The dim horizon bleak and wide

No pathway shows,

And rising gusts, and darkening sky,

Tell of the night that cometh, nigh,

The brief day’s close.