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The Last Buffalo

by Isaac McLellan

Last of his royal race!
He wanders lonely, o'er the trackless waste,
Pausing the rolling river's tide to taste,
In the broad desert space.

Gone is that multitude,
That rang'd the grassy, limitless domain,
Cropping the sumptuous herbage of the plain,
Their sweet, luxuriant food.

Great monarch of the field!
His shaggy head moved grandly at the front,
Triumphant ever in the battle's front,
Scorning to fly or yield.

By Alleghany's chain,
Where the gray summits of the mountains pile,
In the green vales 'neath rocky Mount's defile,
The bisons rang'd each plain.

Years since, long-vanish'd years,
These giant herds swept o'er the pastures wide,
By Mississippi's shore, Missouri's tide,
Speeding their grand careers.

What terrors they had known!
When rag'd o'er prairies the consuming fire,
When wood and plain, one vast funereal pyre,
With grassy blaze were strown!

Sw1ft the wild cattle fled,
When flam'd afar red Con flagration's sword,
Speeding to lakelet marge or river ford,
In tumults dread.

How frantic was their speed,
When Indian tribesmen came with bloody hand,
The Blackfoot warriors and the Sioux band,
On galloping, desert steed!

How frantic was the race,
While pitiless the whistling arrows sped,
The lassos thrown, the spears with carnage red,
In fierce, relentless chase!

How terrible their lot,
When the train'd soldier from some frontier post
With deadly rifle charg'd the flying host
With sabre and with shot!

Those great herds pass'd away!
Like leaves autumnal scatter'd o'er the plains;
Not a poor remnant of them here remains,
In plain or forest-way.

Crippled and daz'd, alone,
Staggering and reeling, bleeding at each pore,
Last of his race, a sovereign now no more,
He gasps his dying moan!