The Plains of Arizona

Joaquin Miller

The rainbows all lie crumpled on these hills,
The red dawns scattered on their colored sills;
These hills have caught the lightning in its flight,
Caught colors from the skies of day and night
And shine with shattered stars and suns they hold
Dyed yellow, red and purple, blue and gold.
Red roses seem within their marble blown
A painted garden chiselled in the stone;
The rose and violet trickling through their veins
Where they drop their bright curtain to the plains
A ramp of rock and granite, jeweled and brightening
Like some great colored wall of lightning! THOU white and dried-up sea! so old!
So strewn with wealth, so sown with gold!
Yes, thou art old and hoary white
THOU white and dried-up sea! so old!
So strewn with wealth, so sown with gold!
Yes, thou art old and hoary white
With time, and ruin of all things;
And on thy lonesome borders night
Sits brooding o'er with drooping wings.
The winds that tossed thy waves, and blew
Across thy breast the flowing sail,
And cheered the hearts of cheering crew
From further seas, no more prevail.
Thy white-walled cities all lie prone,
With but a pyramid, a stone,
Set head and foot in sands to tell
The tired stranger where they fell.
The patient ox that bended low
His neck, and drew slow up and down
Thy thousand freights through rock-built town,
Is now the free-born buffalo.
No longer of the timid fold,
The mountain sheep leaps free and bold
His high-built summit, and looks down
From battlements of buried town.
Thine ancient steeds know not the rein,
They lord the land, they come, they go
At will; they laugh at man, they blow
A cloud of black steeds on the plain.
Thy monuments lie buried now,
The ashes whiten on thy brow,
The winds, the waves have drawn away,
The very wild man dreads to stay.
Oh! thou art very old. I lay,
Made dumb with awe and wonderment,
Beneath a palm within my tent,
With idle and discouraged hands,
Not many days agone, on sands
Of awful, silent Africa.
Long gazing on her mighty shades,
I did recall a semblence there
Of thee. I mused where story fades
From her dark brow and found her fair.
And yet my dried-up desert sea
Was populous with blowing sail.
And set with city, white-walled town,
All manned with armies bright with mail,
Ere yet that awful Sphinx sat down
To gaze into eternity,
Or Egypt knew her natal hour,
Or Africa had name or power.

Main Location:

Arizona, USA