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The Camp-Fire

by Ruby Archer

In a gulch among the mountains,
Red and golden creeps the flicker,
All impatient to be monarch
Of the quivering pine-tree branches.
Now the wind between the boulders
Shrieks incentive to the flame-king,
And with mighty roar and crackling
And with flourishing of smoke-flags,
Leaps the fire to meet the moonlight.—
Fire of earth and fire of heaven
Mingle weirdly, mingle wildly,
As the motives in men's bosoms—
Heavenly hopes and earthly longings.
From the shadows on the hillside
Comes the whinnying of horses,
Where we left them deep in grasses
To the quiet peace of roving.
Gladly crowd we to the circle
Of the eerie flaming branches.
Who so joyous or contented
As our merry little party
Horseback faring o'er the mountains?
We are glad with every valley
Smiling faintly in the moonlight.
We are full of conquering triumph
In the pride of every summit.
But the camp-fire 'mong the boulders,
Flinging high its burning banner,
Laughing gleeful to the moonlight,—
Sings the spirit of our freedom,
Sings our liberty incarnate,
All our full warm love of living!

In the years when recollection
Fills the senses with contentment,
And we yearn no more for doing,
But to memory turn us musing,—
Surely we that knew the camp-fire
And that night among the mountains,
Shall delight in this recalling,
Shall delight and say that never
Have we known a scene more wondrous,
Awe-compelling, joy-commanding,
Than that moonlight and that midnight
In the mountains, by the camp-fire.

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