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Poem by Phoebe Cary
The Prairie on Fire
The long grass burned brown In the summer's fierce heat, Snaps brittle and dry 'Neath the traveller's feet, As over the prairie, Through all the long day, His white, tent-like wagon Moves slow on its way. Safe and dnug with the goods Are the little ones stowed, And the big boys trudge on By the team in the road; While his sweet, patient wife, With the babe on her breast, Sees their new home in fancy, And longs for its rest. But hark! in the distance That dull, trampling tread; And see how the sky Has grown suddenly red! What has lighted the west At the hour of noon? It is not the sunset, it is not the moon! The horses are rearing And snorting with fear, And over the prairie Come flying the deer With hot smoking haunches, And eyes rolling back, As if the fierce hunter Were hard on their track. The mother clasps closer The babe on her arm, While the children cling close to her In wildest alarm; And the father speaks low As the red light mounts higher: "We are lost! we are lost! 'Tis the prairie on fire!" The boys, terror-stricken, Stand still, all but one: He sees in a moment The thing to be done. He has lighted the grass, The quick flames leap in the air; And the pathway before them Lies blackened and bare. How the fire-fiend behind Rushes on in his power; But nothing is left For his wrath to devour. On the scarred, smoking earth They stand safe, every one, While the flames in the distance Sweep harmlessly on. Then reverently under The wide sky they kneel, With spirits too thankful To speak what they feel; But the father in silence Is blessing his boy, While the mother and children Are weeping for joy.
Phoebe Cary's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org