Oh, ho! for the West, the boundless west.
Where pastures and creeds are broad,
And the breeze is a tonic that thrills the breast,
Blown straight from the hills of God.
The East is a land of dead men's bones,
Laid tier on mouldering tier,
And the damp, malarial wind that moans
Is the breath of those dead men near.
And its slow, pale people seem merely wraiths,
That have strayed away from the tomb,
Clutching their cold ancestral faiths,
And wrapped in the garments of gloom.
And mountains rise up to restrict the sight,
As its creeds restrict the soul;
But away and over the frowning height
Those billowy pastures roll.
And there the people are flesh and blood,
Sinew and muscle and brain,
And the strong life-tide is a crimson flood,
Thrilling through nerve and vein.
They ride for miles o'er meadows of green,
They follow the trail of the kine,
And scarcely a tomb by the way is seen,
And the air they drink is like wine.
Brown of feature and bold of heart.
They ride in the face of the blast;
And Nature is dearer to them than Art,
And the Present more than the Past.
They do not sit down by the tombs of the dead;
They live in the world of to-day:
For the Present is here, and the Past has died,
And the Future is on the way.
Then ho ! for the West--land fair and broad,
The land where thought is free:
Where people live close to nature 's God--
Oh, that is the land for me!
Emma [sic Ella] Wheeler Wilcox.
The Observer and Gazette [Fayetteville, NC] 12 Aug. 1886: 4.
Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.
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