The Prairie On Fire Poem by Phoebe Cary

The Prairie On Fire

The long grass burned brown
In the summer's fierce heat,
Snaps brittle and dry
'Neath the traveller's feet,
As over the prairie,
Through all the long day,
His white, tent-like wagon
Moves slow on its way.

Safe and dnug with the goods
Are the little ones stowed,
And the big boys trudge on
By the team in the road;
While his sweet, patient wife,
With the babe on her breast,
Sees their new home in fancy,
And longs for its rest.

But hark! in the distance
That dull, trampling tread;
And see how the sky
Has grown suddenly red!
What has lighted the west
At the hour of noon?
It is not the sunset,
it is not the moon!

The horses are rearing
And snorting with fear,
And over the prairie
Come flying the deer
With hot smoking haunches,
And eyes rolling back,
As if the fierce hunter
Were hard on their track.

The mother clasps closer
The babe on her arm,
While the children cling close to her
In wildest alarm;
And the father speaks low
As the red light mounts higher:
'We are lost! we are lost!
'Tis the prairie on fire!'

The boys, terror-stricken,
Stand still, all but one:
He sees in a moment
The thing to be done.
He has lighted the grass,
The quick flames leap in the air;
And the pathway before them
Lies blackened and bare.

How the fire-fiend behind
Rushes on in his power;
But nothing is left
For his wrath to devour.
On the scarred, smoking earth
They stand safe, every one,
While the flames in the distance
Sweep harmlessly on.

Then reverently under
The wide sky they kneel,
With spirits too thankful
To speak what they feel;
But the father in silence
Is blessing his boy,
While the mother and children
Are weeping for joy.

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