His morning race has fully run;
A waving hand
Signals above the brief command
That sight and sense will understand,—
And open swings the desert land!
A shot! A hundred, thousand more
The grassy meadows echo o’er;
A shout! From countless throats a shout,
On rolling wings leaps madly out;
A yell, a raging roar, that flies
On bounding winds o’er hill and glen,
And ’round the land electrifies
A thousand living miles of men!
A mammoth stir,
A sudden dash,
Swift whip and spur
And wheels on wheels that totter crash!
They’re off! They’re off!
In mad array!
No stop nor stay!
The hurried charge they ride to-day
Would shame and scoff
The Tartar, Turk and Romanoff!
The race is on;
The host is gone;
The thronging legions madly ride
O’er hill and dale,
With hurried pace unsatisfied.
In fierce assail
Where none may fail;
And only phantoms dimly blent
Tell where the mounted armies went,
Like shifting shadows, faint and dim,
Or ghostly spectors, gaunt and grim,
Beyond the far horizon’s rim!
Behold! Adown the valleys bright,
The last, lone straggler fades from sight,
And only hasty hoof-beats say
What thousands rode the race to-day;
What hosts, with hearts that build and bless,
Found homes amid the wilderness!
Crowds! Crowds! Crowds!
Suddenly here as if come from the clouds
That faded away as they came;
Mad acres of people aflame
With thirst for a morsel of land;
Wild hunters of fortune, whose game
Is ever escaping the hand;
Vast, countless, uncountable throngs
With restless, unrestable feet,
That hurry the ways, full of agonized wrongs,
For the conquest of happiness sweet;
Wild seas of ambition whose waves of desire
On their obstacles mighty continually beat,
Where neither the shore nor the ocean is fixed;
Like thunderous songs of a choir,
Whose murmurs in music repeat;
And confusion and chaos are terribly mingled and mixed.
Dust! Dust! Dust!
Borne in the arms of the gathering gust,
And whirled on the wings of the wind,
The eyes feel the blight of the blind,
And horror comes into the heart;
For nature is far more unkind
Than the thousands that struggle apart.
Dark, wild, inescapable dust,
In fiercest, untamable clouds,
That men into misery helplessly thrust,
And bury in agony-shrouds;
A simoom of sorrow whose pestilent breath
To the strong and the weak, to the young and the old,
Brings despair that is reckless of possible gain,
And the awfullest anguish of death;
Till the soul in its rage uncontrolled,
Droops low in the horrible sickness and sorrow of pain.