Sunday, April 24, 2011

Prairie Sunrise ...

The famed artist Maynard Dixon is best known for his paintings of the American Southwest, but his work was also influenced by a 1917 visit to northwestern Montana. Sponsored by the Great Northern Railway, Dixon's Montana trip included time in Glacier Park, as well as the Blackfeet Indian reservation nearby. In the years that followed Dixon translated his Montana memories into a number of paintings and several poems, including an evocative but slightly over-the-top verse called "Prairie Sunrise":
Ascendent over the world grows the saffron dawn.
Still and dim is the prairie, -- dark is the sod,
And dewy the cool curling blades of the buffalo grass,
And low and faint in the glow the smoke-spirits rise,
Revealing the camp; and here by a mute-solid boulder
An empty buffalo skull, deep-staring and old;
Little birds twitter and flit in the rusty-stemmed willows,
As over the rim comes tremendous ascending day --
The day! The marvelous day, exalting and vast! --
And there as the sun flares up, life-lit in its glory
The red-naked Indian rides, free-chanting his trail song.


  1. "As over the rim comes tremendous ascending day--"

    That's perhaps the most perfect description of a prairie sunrise that I've ever read. And it has to be sort of over-the-top, really, because...well, prairie sunrises are inexplicably huge!

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. The wonders of a prairie sunrise are extremely difficult to describe, indeed ... to appreciate it, you really just have to be there! This verse does as good a job as any I've seen, though.

    And I'm very glad you stopped by! I'm sorry I've been so derelict about this lately ... work has been frantic, but hopefully I can still get back to a regular posting schedule here soon.

  3. (I've been derelict this last month at the Chronicles, too...ah, well...)
    Your blog reminds me of the interesting, good things that we are living in the midst of; January in Eastern Montana is an easy time to get morose and dark, so when your blog pops up and makes me smile, I appreciate it like you can't know!