Song of the Sand Storm

I am the pitiless Sand Storm,
The whelp of a tameless breed-
My dam the desert, my sire the air;
I stealthily come from my shadowy lair,
And away, and away I speed!

I lie in the sun on the mesa
Outstretching my yellow length;
I drowse and I purr in a tigerish way,
Then suddenly leap on my terrified prey
With more than a tiger's strength!

I scar the cliffs in my fury,
Effacing their ancient runes;
I polish the skeleton bones that lie
Unnoted, unburied- and scurrying by,
Heap higher the gray sand dunes.

The arrogant sentinel mountains
Make challenge- yet little I reck;
And vainly the obdurate cactus sets
In my pathway a million bayonets-
It never my course can check.

The pace of the caravan quickens
At the thought of my wild caprice;
And the thunder rouses and beats his drums
To tell the world that the Sand Storm comes-
And the songs and the laughter cease!

The cool rain poured in sudden haste
Upon the thirsty sod,
And life throughout an arid waste
Rejoices, thanking God.

Each wild and lonely desert flower
Is royally arrayed,
As if in one brief, stormy hour
The world were newly made.

Where vagrant breezes stray and waft
The mesquite's sweet perfume,
The green saguaro's fluted shaft
Lifts high a richer bloom.

The palo verde blossoms glow
Like jets of yellow fire,
And every bird we love and know
Pipes in the tuneful choir.

The fair Altruria of the bees,
Beneath the orange boughs,
Hears whispered friendships of the trees
As sweet as lovers' vows.

Wee desert folk from strife forbear-
Their deadly conflicts cease,
As if responsive to the prayer
For Universal Peace.

No more on thorns the linnet hangs-
Slain by the cruel shrike;
The coiled crotalus sheathes his fangs,
And does not care to strike.

Here blooms the world like Aaron's rod,
New verdure clothes the plain-
The wondrous miracle of God
That follows a desert rain!

Fair is the sky, for the cloud-rack is lifted-
Bright will the day be, though dark was the morn;
Warm was the morn, but the strong wind has shifted
Into the north- where the blizzards are born.
White coward mercury goes down to zero-
Darting about flies a veteran jay,
Braving the breeze, like a blue-coated hero-
Seeking his supper, I venture to say.

Neighbors pass hurriedly, mantled and muffled-
Great coats, and seal-skins, to keep out the storm-
Plump little quail, with their plumage beruffled,
Search in the hedge for a nook that is warm.
That latest blast from the boreal bellows,
Drifted some snow-birds the garden below;
Always their coming, the wise-acres tell us,
Tokens cold weather, and flurries of snow.

Warm sheltered corners the cattle have chosen,
Shivers the pine in its evergreen leaves;
Pools by the roadside in wrinkles are frozen-
Bayonet icicles hang from the eaves.
Five English sparrows, defying the weather,
There in the pathway a conference hold;
Ho! merry midgets in doublets of feathers!
Why do you rally out there in the cold?

Little you care for the riot and rattle-
Little you heed- let the mercury fall!
Brave little fighters, go on with your battle-
Here is a friend who will welcome you all!
Fly to my window- I'll feed every comer-
Hail to the comrades that constancy show
Loving and loyal, in winter and summer-
With us, alike, in the heat and the snow!

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