Cale Young Rice

(1872-1943 / United States)

The Chant of the Colorado


(At the Grand Canyon)

My brother, man, shapes him a plan
   And builds him a house in a day,
But I have toiled through a million years
   For a home to last alway.
I have flooded the sands and washed them down,
   I have cut through gneiss and granite.
No toiler of earth has wrought as I,
   Since God's first breath began it.
High mountain-buttes I have chiselled, to shade
   My wanderings to the sea.
With the wind's aid, and the cloud's aid,
Unweary and mighty and unafraid,
   I have bodied eternity.

My brother, man, builds for a span:
   His life is a moment's breath.
But I have hewn for a million years,
   Nor a moment dreamt of death.
By moons and stars I have measured my task --
   And some from the skies have perished:
But ever I cut and flashed and foamed,
   As ever my aim I cherished:
My aim to quarry the heart of earth,
   Till, in the rock's red rise,
Its age and birth, through an awful girth
Of strata, should show the wonder-worth
   Of patience to all eyes.

My brother, man, builds as he can,
   And beauty he adds for his joy,
But all the hues of sublimity
   My pinnacled walls employ.
Slow shadows iris them all day long,
   And silvery veils, soul-stilling,
The moon drops down their precipices,
   Soft with a spectral thrilling.
For all immutable dreams that sway
   With beauty the earth and air,
Are ever at play, by night and day,
My house of eternity to array
   In visions ever fair.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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