On Rocky Mountain cliff and ridge,
Along the shelving Western slopes,
Or in green valleys at their base,
Where range the graceful antelopes,
The wild goat gallops o'er the space,
Cropping the juicy grass at will,
Or tasting the cold mountain rill.
So wild and wary, fleet of foot
Surpassing speed of hound or horse,
That scarce the skill and arms of man
Avail to check their headlong course.
Where the Columbia River turns
Its North Fork, near the water's head,
Their gather'd numbers love to graze,
Far over the gray summits spread.
And ofttimes to that solitude
Come trapper and frontiersmen rude;
And then for days the cliffs resound
With gun-report and hunters' cheer,
The baying of the eager hound,
The gallop down recesses drear.
There, then, o'er granite ridge and peak,
O'er gorge and gulch and mossy rock,
The hunters clamber, climb, and cling,
Pursuing the wild mountain flock,
And at the day-close, spent with toil,
Return o'erladen with the spoil.