On Hearing a Description of a Prairie

Oh! could I see as thou hast seen,
   The garden of the west,
When Spring in all her loveliness
   Fair nature’s face has dressed.

The rolling prairie, vast and wild!
   It hath a charm for me—
Its tall grass waving to the breeze,
   Like billows on the sea.

Say, hast thou chased the bounding deer
   When smiled the rosy morn?
Or hast thou listened to the sound
   Of the merry hunter’s horn?

Once could the noble red-man call
   That prairie wild his home;—   
His cabin now in ruins laid,
   He must an exile roam,

And thou at twilight’s pensive hour,
   Perchance hast seen him weep;—
Tread lightly o’er the hallowed spot,
   For there his kindred sleep.

I envy not the opulent
   His proud and lordly dome;
Far happier is the pioneer
   Who seeks a prairie home;—   

Where no discordant notes are heard,
   But all is harmony;
Where soars aloft unfettered thought,
   And the heart beats light and free.


Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)
More Poems by Frances Jane Crosby Van Alstyne