Twilight silently, softly falls,
Touching valley and grove with misty wand,
Kissing the sky goodnight at the west;
From far-off peaks of the mountain-land.
All nature slumbers in perfect rest,
Sweet sleep the earth enfolds.
Night lures to soft Elysian dreams,
And far and wide dominion holds;
No sound invades save distant wail
Of coyote from the upland steep,
Or gentle tinkle of a brook
In rocky butte or cañon deep.
And here in this Sweet-Water vale,
How pleasant the passing years should flow;
A vale engirdled by Rocky Peak,
A grand, majestic show!
Far off the Big Horn Mountains swell,
Where gallant Custer fought and fell,
Where buffalo-grass and wild grease-wood
Have redden'd oft with human blood.
Here on these measureless green plains,
The wild deer stretch away at speed.
The prong-horn'd antelopes abound,
The lordly elk herds range and feed;
But, ah, the buffalo that swept
These wastes a score of years ago,
These grazing-grounds of pastures vast,
Have vanish'd like last year's snow!
No more the whooping Indian spurs
In frantic gallop on their trail;
No more the hunter-troops pursue
The fleeing herds in gulch and vale;
No more their bellowing onsets sound,
As in fierce combat they engage;
No more with hoof they spurn the ground,
Tossing their iron horns in rage.
So here for ages was the scene,
The battle-ground of savage strife,
Long ere the emigrants had come
To brave the battle-axe and knife.
Here o'er these grassy meads they swept,
Hunting the bison and the deer;
Rejoicing in the war and chase,
In forays of their fierce career,
With war club, arrow-shaft, and spear.