“I’ll take this plot,” the Devil
“For I like your description well,
Yes, I’ll take this place and I’ll mould a race
That will be a credit to hell.”
Then he whistled an imp from the uttermost part
And they dropped as the comets whirled
Past the white baked stars, past Venus and Mars
To the unfinished part of the world.
He landed at last on Denali’s crest
And he gazed on his acres wide—
Barren and bleak, from each mountain peak
And swamp to the Arctic’s tide.
The Devil grinned as he stood and gazed
Said he, “This is just what I need,
It’s the place of my plan, for the downfall of man
Where I’ll change his ambition to greed.”
Then he summoned the legions of hell to his side
Named an arch imp to straw boss each crew.
Tho they gibbered and cursed, each one did the worst
With the jobs Satan gave them to do.
They tumbled the mountains high up, and on end,
Piled glaciers where streams ought to be,
And swamp land was placed in the desolate waste
That stretched from the hills to the sea.
They shook down all hell for a climate to fit,
But they couldn’t get suited in hell,
So they took the worst parts and with devilish arts
They built one that suited them well.
They laid out muck swamps where the water lies dead
Bred mosquitoes and moose flies and gnats
Put the brown bear that kills on the barren brown hills
And with quill pigs infested the flats.
They shut off the sun for full half of the year,
Made each glacier a blizzard blown trap,
They strung out volcanoes half way to Japan
Each one with a hair trigger cap.
They planned for the coast line a system of storms
Each equipped with a ninety mile breath
And then spread o’er it all the fog that men call
The North Coast mantle of death.
Then knowing full well that man would not go
To a Land so forlorn to behold,
He salted the hillsides and some of the streams
With nuggets and traces of gold.
He tinted the hills with a green copper ledge
And covered the valleys with game,
All this for a lure, then the Devil felt sure
That the white man would fall for the same.
* * * * *
The lure of the little known places
Still calls, as it called to your sires;
The longing for wide open spaces,
The perfume of evening camp fires;
The hunting for treasure unfound yet
The knocking at fortune’s own gate;
The doing of deeds for the joy that it breeds
Were all used by the Devil as bait.
The summers besprinkled with sunshine,
The hillsides a riot of bloom
With meadows a color shot grandeur
And valleys as still as a tomb.
With mountains of cloud-encased beauty
Or with stars shining down on it all
It’s the trails we don’t know that call us to go
And no wonder man heeded the call.