THE SONG OF THE COLORADO
From the heart of the mighty mountains strong-souled for my fate I came,
My far-drawn track to a nameless sea through a land without a name ;
And the earth rose up to hold me, to bid me linger and stay ;
And the brawn and bone of my mother's race were set to bar my way.
Yet I stayed not, I could not linger; my soul was tense to the call
The wet winds sing when the long waves leap and beat on the far sea wall.
I stayed not, I could not linger; patient, resistless, alone,
I hewed the trail of my destiny deep in the hindering stone.
How narrow that first dim pathway — yet deepening hour by hour!
Years, ages, eons, spent and forgot, while I gathered me might and power
To answer the call that led me, to carve my road to the sea,
Till my flood swept out with that greater tide as tireless and tameless and free.
From the far, wild land that bore me, I drew my blood as wild —
I, born of the glacier's glory, born of the uplands piled
Like stairs to the door of heaven, that the Maker of All might go
Down from His place with honor, to look on the world and know
That the sun and the wind and the waters, and the white ice cold and still...
Were moving aright in the plan He had made, shaping His wish and will.
When the spirit of worship was on me, turning alone, apart, I stayed
And carved me temples deep in the mountain's heart.
Wide-domed and vast and silent, meet for the God I knew,
With shrines that were shadowed and solemn and altars of richest hue;
And out of my ceaseless striving I wrought a victor's hymn,
Flung up to the stars in greeting from my far track deep and dim.
For the earth was put behind me; I reckoned no more with them
That come or go at her bidding, and cling to her garment's hem.
Apart in my rock-hewn pathway, where the great cliffs shut me in,
The storm-swept clouds were my brethren, and the stars were my kind and kin.
Tireless, alone, unstaying, I went as one who goes
On some high and strong adventure that only his own heart knows.
Tireless, alone, unstaying, I went in my chosen road —
I trafficked with no man's burden — I bent me to no man's load.
On my tawny, sinuous shoulders no salt-gray ships swung in ;
I washed no feet of cities, like a slave whipped out and in ;
My will was the law of my moving in the land that my strife had made —
As a man in the house he has builded, master and unafraid.
O ye that would hedge and bind me —
remember whence I came !
I, that was, and was mighty,
ere your race had breath or name !
Play with your dreams in the sunshine —
delve and toil and plot —
Yet I keep the way of my will to the sea,
when ye and your race are not !
By Sharlot Hall 1906. Written while aboard a steamer on the Colorado River.
Excerpted from "Cactus & Pine," Copyright 1911.