John Hay

John Hay

October 8, 1838 - July 1, 1905


The Prairie

by John Hay

The skies are blue above my head,
The prairie green below,
And flickering o'er the tufted grass
The shifting shadows go,
Vague-sailing, where the feathery clouds
Fleck white the tranquil skies,
Black javelins darting where aloft
The whirring pheasant flies.

A glimmering plain in drowsy trance
The dim horizon bounds,
Where all the air is resonant
With sleepy summer sounds, --
The life that sings among the flowers,
The lisping of the breeze,
The hot cicala's sultry cry,
The murmurous dream of bees.

The butterfly -- a flying flower --
Wheels swift in flashing rings,
And flutters round his quiet kin,
With brave flame-mottled wings.
The wild Pinks burst in crimson fire,
The Phlox' bright clusters shine,
And Prairie-Cups are swinging free
To spill their airy wine.

And lavishly beneath the sun,
In liberal splendor rolled,
The Fennel fills the dipping plain
With floods of flowery gold;
And widely weaves the Iron-Weed
A woof of purple dyes
Where Autumn's royal feet may tread
When bankrupt Summer flies.

In verdurous tumult far away
The prairie-billows gleam,
Upon their crests in blessing rests
The noontide's gracious beam.
Low quivering vapors steaming dim
The level splendors break
Where languid Lilies deck the rim
Of some land-circled lake.

Far in the East like low-hung clouds
The waving woodlands lie;
Far in the West the glowing plain
Melts warmly in the sky.
No accent wounds the reverent air,
No footprint dints the sod, --
Lone in the light the prairie lies,
Rapt in a dream of God.

Illinois, 1858


Copyright 1897
Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston
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