The Pass Of The Sierra

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier

All night above their rocky bed
They saw the stars march slow;
The wild Sierra overhead,
The desert's death below.
The Indian from his lodge of bark,
The gray bear from his den,
Beyond their camp-fire's wall of dark,
Glared on the mountain men.
Still upward turned, with anxious strain,
Their leader's sleepless eye,
Where splinters of the mountain chain
Stood black against the sky.
The night waned slow: at last, a glow,
A gleam of sudden fire,
Shot up behind the walls of snow,
And tipped each icy spire.
"Up, men!" he cried, "yon rocky cone,
To-day, please God, we'll pass,
And look from Winter's frozen throne
On Summer's flowers and grass!"
They set their faces to the blast,
They trod the eternal snow,
And faint, worn, bleeding, hailed at last
The promised land below.
Behind, they saw the snow-cloud tossed
By many an icy horn;
Before, warm valleys, wood-embossed,
And green with vines and corn.
They left the Winter at their backs
To flap his baffled wing,
And downward, with the cataracts,
Leaped to the lap of Spring.
Strong leader of that mountain band,
Another task remains,
To break from Slavery's desert land
A path to Freedom's plains.
The winds are wild, the way is drear,
Yet, flashing through the night,
Lo! icy ridge and rocky spear
Blaze out in morning light!
Rise up, Frémont! and go before;
The Hour must have its Man;
Put on the hunting-shirt once more,
And lead in Freedom's van

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