Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
Western States: Chicago, Ill.
John Boyle O’Reilly (1884–1890)
Chicago, October 9, 1871

GAUNT in the midst of the prairie,
      She who was once so fair;
Charred and rent are her garments,
Heavy and dark like cerements;
      Silent, but round her the air        5
Plaintively wails, “Miserere!”
Proud like a beautiful maiden,
      Art-like from forehead to feet,
Was she till pressed like a leman
Close to the breast of the demon,        10
      Lusting for one so sweet,
So were her shoulders laden.
Friends she had, rich in her treasures:
      Shall the old taunt be true,—
Fallen, they turn their cold faces,        15
Seeking new wealth-gilded places,
      Saying we never knew
Aught of her smiles or her pleasures?
Silent she stands on the prairie,
      Wrapped in her fire-scathed sheet:        20
Around her, thank God! is the Nation,
Weeping for her desolation,
      Pouring its gold at her feet,
Answering her “Miserere!”

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