Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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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
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,        5
        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        10
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;        15
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        20
        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,        25
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.        30
 
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,        35
        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,        40
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,        45
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        50
        No pathway shows,
And rising gusts, and darkening sky,
Tell of the night that cometh, nigh,
        The brief day’s close.
 
 
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