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Poems About Oregon

Table of Contents

  1. To the Oregon Robin by John Burroughs
  2. The Old Maps to Oregon by Thomas Hornsby Ferril
  3. The Oregon Trail by Arthur Guiterman

  1. To the Oregon Robin

    by John Burroughs

    O varied thrush! O robin strange!
    Behold my mute surprise.
    Thy form and flight I long have known,
    But not this new disguise.

    I do not know thy slaty coat,
    Thy vest with darker zone;
    I'm puzzled by thy recluse ways
    And song in monotone.

    I left thee 'mid my orchard's bloom,
    When May had crowned the year;
    Thy nest was on the apple-bough,
    Where rose thy carol clear.

    Thou lurest now through fragrant shades,
    Where hoary spruces grow;
    Where floor of moss infolds the foot,
    Like depths of fallen snow.

    I follow fast or pause alert,
    To spy out thy retreat;
    Or see thee perched on tree or shrub,
    Where field and forest meet.

    Thy voice is like a hermit's reed
    That solitude beguiles;
    Again 't is like a silver bell
    Atune in forest aisles.

    Throw off, throw off this masquerade
    And don thy ruddy vest,
    And let me find thee, as of old,
    Beside thy orchard nest.

  2. The Old Maps to Oregon

    by Thomas Hornsby Ferril

    Their maps, when they had maps, were charted well
    With names stretching two hundred miles or more,
    For timid wives to read the night before
    The latch-string on the front door slowly fell,
    Leaving them, just a moment, staring hard
    Against the door, as if a door could close
    Tighter the last time than the doors of those
    Who had no prairie wagons in the yard.

    Altho the scrawny legends overlapped
    The wilderness with bitter high deceit,
    Such wives at dusk could still smile when they came
    Within a smile or two of what was mapped,
    Dreaming of harbor, while thick oxen feet
    Drummed toward some empty place that had a name.

  3. The Oregon Trail

    by Arthur Guiterman

    Two hundred wagons, rolling out to Oregon,
    Breaking through the gopher holes, lurching wide and free,
    Crawling up the mountain pass, jolting, grumbling, rumbling on,
    Two hundred wagons, rolling to the sea.

    From East and South and North they flock, to muster, row on row,
    A fleet of tenscore prairie ships beside Missouri's flow.
    The bullwhips crack, the oxen strain, the canvas-hooded files
    Are off upon the long, long trail of sixteen hundred miles.

    The women hold the guiding lines; beside the rocking steers
    With goad and ready rifle walk the bearded pioneers
    Through clouds of dust beneath the sun, through floods of sweeping rain
    Cross the Kansas prairie land, across Nebraska's plain.

    Two hundred wagons, rolling out to Oregon,
    Curved round the campfire flame at halt when day is done,
    Rest awhile beneath the stars, yoke again and lumber on,
    Two hundred wagons, rolling with the sun.

    Among the barren buttes they wind beneath the jealous view
    Of Blackfoot, Pawnee, Omaha, Arapahoe, and Sioux.
    No savage threat may check their course, no river deep and wide;
    They swim the Platte, they ford the Snake, they cross the Great Divide.
    They march as once from India's vales through Asia's mountain door
    With shield and spear on Europe's plain their fathers marched before.
    They march where leap the antelope and storm the buffalo
    Still westward as their fathers marched ten thousand years ago.

    Two hundred wagons, rolling out to Oregon,
    Creeping down the dark defile below the mountain crest,
    Surging through the brawling stream, lunging, plunging, forging on,
    Two hundred wagons, rolling toward the West.

    Now toils the dusty caravan with swinging wagon-poles
    Where Walla Walla pours along, where broad Columbia rolls.
    The long-haired trapper's face grows dark and scowls the painted brave;
    Where now the beaver builds his dam the wheat and rye shall wave.
    The British trader shakes his head and weighs his nation's loss,
    For where those hardy settlers come the Stars and Stripes will toss.
    Then block the wheels, unyoke the steers; the prize is his who dares;
    The cabins rise, the fields are sown, and Oregon is theirs!

    They will take, they will hold,
    By the spade in the mold,
    By the seed in the soil,
    By the sweat and the toil,
    By the plow in the loam,
    By the school and the home!

    Two hundred wagons, rolling out to Oregon,
    Two hundred wagons, ranging free and far,
    Two hundred wagons, rumbling, grumbling, rolling on,
    Two hundred wagons, following a star!

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