'Mid scenes magnificently grand
In forest-ground and mountain-land,
Savage and solitary lord
Of dark ravine and pasture broad,
The grizzly bear, beyond the dome
Of Rocky Mountains, holds its home.
Far o'er that world of icy peaks,
Of herbless crag and precipice,
Where scarce a stunted shrub may throw
Its pennon o'er the void abyss,
Higher than vulture wing sweeps the woods,
Or eagle from his eyrie soars,
The she bear rears her tawny brood,
Pacing the ledges' granite floors.
More fierce than tiger of Bengal
Or lion of the Afric coast;
For one will fly the step of man,
Cowering, in tangled coverts lost;
The other slink away at shout
Of savage chief and rabble rout.
But this grand monarch hath no dread
Of mortal art or human power;
For, arm'd with claws of crooked steel,
And fangs like tushes of the boar,
It faces with terrific growls
Whatever live invades its den--
Whether a single foe that prowls
Around, or multitude of men.
Yet some brave hunters of the wild,
Alone and single-handed, dare
To seek him in his darkling den,
Defy him in his cavern lair,
Arm'd only with his rifle true,
Valiant of heart and firm of nerve,
He tracks him through defiles sublime
To where the cave-mouth opes its curve,
Well knowing that the brute doth dwell
All winter in that secret cell.
Stern, then, he strips him for the fight,
Careful prepares his pitch torchlight;
Looks to his weapon, sure its load
Is certain on his dreadful road
(For life and limb are on the cast;
One failure, and it is his last);
Then creeps as into yawning grave,
Down the dark pathway of the cave.
With steady progress on he goes,
The red torch flashing out its glare;
He sees each dripping rock and crag;
And the black outline of the bear.
The brute, arous'd from drowsy rest,
Toward the flaming beacon stalks,
Sniffling, amaz'd, the tainted air
As onward to his fate he walks;
Speed true, good ball! for if it fail,
No human valor may avail!
The brute so close hath near'd the flame,
His breath may fan the hunter's cheek.
But not a tremor shakes his frame,
No pallid damps a tremor speak;
But, sure the aim, the deadly ball
Rends its swift way through eye and brain;
The hero in that dismal hall
Rejoices o'er the monster slain.