Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
The Giant Cactus of Arizona
By Harriet Monroe
From “Poems of Travel”

THE CACTUS in the desert stands
    Like time’s inviolate sentinel,
Watching the sun-washed waste of sands
    Lest they their ancient secrets tell.
And the lost love of mournful lands        5
    It knows alone and guards too well.
Wiser than Sphynx or pyramid,
    It points a stark hand at the sky,
And all the stars alight or hid
    It counts as they go rolling by;        10
And mysteries the gods forbid
    Darken its heavy memory.
I asked how old the world was—yea,
    And why yon ruddy mountain grew
Out of hell’s fire. By night nor day        15
    It answered not, though all it knew,
But lifted, as it stopped my way,
    Its wrinkled fingers toward the blue.
Inscrutable and stern and still
    It waits the everlasting doom.        20
Races and years may do their will—
    Lo, it will rise above their tomb,
Till the drugged earth has drunk her fill
    Of sun, and falls asleep in gloom.

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