Bryant, William Cullen. "The Prairies".
The speaker contemplates the prairies which are as fresh as in the state before Adam had sinned. They are unchained; and man has no part in this glorious work.
The speaker treads the dust of an old extinct race buried in the burial mounds. In his mind, he develops images from that peoples' lives, their work, their fields, their forgotten language, and old songs. When the red men of hunter tribes came, the mound builders perished. Nothing is left of them, except for the piles of earth for their graves and the barriers which they built to prevent the enemy to invade. Yet the walls were forced and there was a slaughter. Maybe some solitary fugitive was then accepted kindly by the conquerors to live with them and seemed to forget his slaughtered kins, but he did not.
The forms of being are constantly changing. The red man was conquered by the white man. Now the prairies are a still solitude, yet not deprived of life: there is variety of insects, flowers, birds, reptiles, deer, etc. The speakers fancies he hears the sounds of approaching people: laugh of children, voices of young girls, etc., but a fresh wind breaks his dream and he finds himself alone in the wilderness.
AuthorBryant, William Cullen. (1794 - 1878).
Full Title"The Prairies".
Bryant, William Cullen. "The Prairies". In: The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. NY: Norton, 1989.