Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Songs of the Plains
By Glenn Ward Dresbach
 
I
THERE’S no hiding here in the glare of the desert—
  If your coat is sham the sun shines through.
Here with the lonely things and the silence
  There is no crowd for saving you.
 
When hearts love here the love lasts longer,        5
  And hate leaves here a heavy scar.
But we, with the desert’s beauty of distance,
  Are always dreaming of places far!
 
If you have come to start a kingdom—
  Our eyes have looked on Rome and Tyre!        10
But if you come with dreams for baggage,
  Sit with us by the cedar fire!
 
II
The sultry sudden darkness,
  Like some black mantle thrown
From shoulders of a giant        15
  On children left alone,
Falls over us; and, stilled with fear,
In dark we see, in silence hear!
 
Then rain!—a sudden pounding
  Of unformed maddened things,        20
Pounding, splashing—stubborn
  As vultures’ heavy wings
That pound the air, too sure to hate,
In hunger, and move low, and wait!
 
III
Four old trees stand tall on a hill.
        25
Wind swirls around them, never still;
And their heads together bow and sway
As if in talk of a game they play.
Sometimes they laugh and sometimes sigh;
And there beneath a low gray sky        30
I’ve seen them drop their leaves when thins
The gold and crimson, as near dawn
Wise gamblers drop their cards upon
The table, saying kindly, “Why
Quarrel with a game that no one wins!”        35
 
IV
The wood was so old that I thought
  I’d hear it saying its prayers
In the aisles like cloisters wrought;
  But I came on it, unawares,
Chuckling—like old men mellow grown—        40
Talking of youth on a hill alone!
 
V
The birds love you too,
  Calling, “Sweet, sweet, sweet!”
In the windy lane
  Where the tree-tops meet.        45
 
But I love you best,
  Since my lips let pass
No song lest I miss
  Your steps on the grass.
 
VI
I’ll go where willows quicken
        50
  Their dances in the glow
Of morning, and the wild brooks
  Make music down below;
For I am weary seeking
  The things I may not know.        55
 
And I shall feel the silver
  Of willow leaves, and hold
A drop of water winking
  With rainbows yet unsold.
What more may all the world find        60
  Now all its dreams are old!
 
 
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