|Walt Whitman (18191892). Prose Works. 1892.|
|I. Specimen Days|
|192. The Prairies and Great Plains in Poetry|
GRAND as the thought that doubtless the child is already born who will see a hundred millions of people, the most prosperous and advancd of the world, inhabiting these Prairies, the great Plains, and the valley of the Mississippi, I could not help thinking it would be grander still to see all those inimitable American areas fused in the alembic of a perfect poem, or other esthetic work, entirely western, fresh and limitlessaltogether our own, without a trace or taste of Europes soil, reminiscence, technical letter or spirit. My days and nights, as I travel herewhat an exhilaration!not the air alone, and the sense of vastness, but every local sight and feature. Everywhere something characteristicthe cactuses, pinks, buffalo grass, wild sagethe receding perspective, and the far circle-line of the horizon all times of day, especially forenoonthe clear, pure, cool, rarefied nutriment for the lungs, previously quite unknownthe black patches and streaks left by surface-conflagrationsthe deep-ploughd furrow of the fire-guardthe slanting snow-racks built all along to shield the railroad from winter driftsthe prairie-dogs and the herds of antelopethe curious dry riversoccasionally a dug-out or corralFort Riley and Fort Wallacethose towns of the northern plains, (like ships on the sea,) Eagle-Tail, Coyote, Cheyenne, Agate, Monotony, Kit Carsonwith ever the anthill and the buffalo-wallowever the herds of cattle and the cow-boys (cow-punchers) to me a strangely interesting class, bright-eyed as hawks, with their swarthy complexions and their broad-brimmd hatsapparently always on horseback, with loose arms slightly raised and swinging as they ride.
(After traveling Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado.)