Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
Prairie Summer
By Amanda Theodocia Jones (1835–1914)
 
[Born in Bloomfield, Ontario Co., N. Y., 1835. Died in New York, N. Y., 1914. From “A Prairie Idyl, and Other Poems.” 1882.]

BEGAN a crazy wind to blow;
  Loomed up a black and massy cloud;
Fell down the volumed floods that flow
  With volleying thunders near and loud,
      With lightnings broad and blinding.        5
A week of flying lights and darks,
  Then all was clear; from copse and corn
Flew grosbeaks, red-birds, whistling larks,
  And thrushes voiced like peris lorn,
      Themselves of Heaven reminding.        10
 
Deep trails my hasty hands had torn,
  Where, under fairy-tasselled rues,
Low vines their scarlet fruits had borne,
  That neither men nor gods refuse,—
      Delicious, spicy, sating.        15
As there through meadow red-tops sere
  I toiled, my fragile friends to greet,
Out sang the birds: “Good cheer! good cheer!”—
  “This way!”—“Pure purity!”—“So sweet!”—
      “See! see! a-waiting—waiting!”        20
 
I saw: Each way the rolling wheat,
  The wild-flower wilderness between,
Therein the sun-emblazoning sheet,
  Four ways the thickets darkly green,
      The vaporous drifts and dazzles;        25
Swift lace-wings flittering high and low,
  Sheen, gauzy scarves a-sag with dew,
Blown phloxes flaked like falling snow,
  Wide spiderworts in umbels blue,
      Wild bergamots and basils;        30
 
And oh, the lilies! melted through
  With ocherous pigments of the sun!
Translucent flowers of marvellous hue,
  Red, amber, orange, all in one,—
      Their brown-black anthers bursting        35
To scatter out their powdered gold:
  One half with upward looks attent,
As holy secrets might be told,
  One half with turbans earthward bent,
      For Eden’s rivers thirsting.        40
 
And now the winds a-tiptoe went,
  As loath to trouble Summer calms;
The air was dense with sifted scent,
  Dispersed from fervid mints and balms
      Whose pungent fumes betrayed them.        45
The brooks, on yielding sedges flung,
  Half-slept—babe-soft their pulses beat;
Wee humming-birds, green-burnished, swung
  Now here, now there, to find the sweet,
      As if a billow swayed them.        50
 
Loud-whirring hawk-moths, large and fleet,
  Went honey-mad; the dipters small
Caught wings, they bathed in airy heat;
  I saw the mottled minnows all,—
      So had the pool diminished.        55
No Sybarite ever banqueted
  As those bird-rioters young and old:
The red-wing’s story, while he fed,
  A thousand times he partly told,
      But never fairly finished.        60
 
Some catch the reeling oriole trolled,
  Broke off his black and gold to trim;
Quarrelled the blue-jay fiery-bold,—
  Or feast or fight all one to him,
      True knight at drink or duel;        65
New wine of berries black and red
  The noisy cat-bird sipped and sipped;
The king-bird bragged of battles dread,
  How he the stealthy hawk had whipped—
      That armed marauder cruel.        70
 
While so they sallied, darted, dipped,
  Slow feathered seeds began to sail;
Gray milk-weed pods their flosses slipped,—
  More blithely blew the buoying gale,
      And sent them whitely flying.        75
Rose up new creatures every hour
  From brittle-walled chrysalides;
The yellow wings on every flower
  With ringèd wasps and bumble-bees
      Shone, Danae’s gold outvying.        80
 
 
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