The Rough Rider and Other Poems

by Bliss Carman


 

THE GOLDEN WEST


 

IN the golden dawn of the world,
When man emerged
From the mysterious East,
With the breath of life in his mouth,
And the tell-tale trace
5
Of the red clay still on his face.

He turned with inquisitive gaze,
A child of the light,
To follow the track of the sun
Through the void far blue,

10
Seeing it sink to rest
In a glorious golden West.

Then an unassuageable urge
Awoke in his blood,
The brooding spirit of Earth

15
Whispered a word in his heart,
And man went forth on the trail,
Knowing he should not fail.

 

II

 

And the slow centuries
Measured his toilsome march,
20
While ever his face was set
To lands that lie beyond
The going down of the sun,
Where endeavor’s requital is won.

From Egypt and Greece and Tyre,

25
From Assyria and Rome,
With color and pomp and joy,
Laughter and chants and war,
Moved the great caravan
Of wandering man.
30

Conquering mountain and sea,
Spreading through forest and plain,
Crossing the outer flood,—
The rim of the ancient world,—
He passed over new domain
35
Like the hosts of sweeping rain.

Traversing prairie and wood,
Waterway, desert, and range,
At last by the ultimate shore
Of the ageless sea

40
His pack-trains come to rest
In our golden West.

 

III

 

Here have the most high Ones,
The Overlords of the world,
The Archangels of man,
45
Brought their earth children at last,
To the happy land prepared
For those who have labored and dared.

O men and women born
Of the teeming and holy earth,

50
And led through the myriad years
By the impulse and vision divine,
Behold now what shall be done
With the heritage we have won?

Here with an empire to use,

55
Wealth beyond Solomon’s dream,
And the balm and respite of peace,
In a garden of the world,
What is the news or the plan
Of Twentieth Century man?
60

 

IV

 

I heard the Sierras reply,
Rank after rank as they rose
Through the golden and violet light,
"The destined days are at hand,
When my children shall arise
65
And assume the heroic guise

"From the beginning designed
For the seraphs, and sons of earth.
They shall put off envy and fear,
And skulking merciless greed,

70
And be girded against all ills
With the vigor and poise of the hills.

"Here on this border of time
Where mighty morrows are born,
Emerging from ages of dream

75
And the dust of unreason and strife,
They shall grow wise and humane
With a gladness virile and sane.

"Primal in beauty and pride,
Christian in kindness and calm,

80
Modern in knowledge and skill,
Sons of the morning, arise—
Earth’s awaited and best—
From the golden West!"