A Desert Memory

By Bertrand N. O. Walker

Lonely, open, vast and free,
The dark’ning desert lies;
The wind sweeps o’er it fiercely,
And the yellow sand flies.
The tortuous trail is hidden,
Ere the sand-storm has passed
With all its wild, mad shriekings,
Borne shrilly on its blast.

Are they fiends or are they demons
That wail weirdly as they go,
Those hoarse and dismal cadences,
From out their depths of woe?
Will they linger and enfold
The lone trav’ler in their spell,

Weave ‘round him incantations,
Brewed and bro’t forth from their hell?
Bewilder him and turn him
From the rugged, hidden trail,
Make him wander far and falter,
And tremblingly quail
At the desert and the loneliness
So fearful and so grim,
That to his fervid fancy,
Wraps in darkness only him?

The wind has spent its fierce wild wail,
    The dark storm-pall has shifted,
Forth on his sight the stars gleam pale
    In the purpling haze uplifted.

And down the steep trail, as he lists,
    He hears soft music stealing;
It trembling falls through filmy mists,
    From rock-walls faint echoes pealing.

Whence comes this mystic night-song
With its rhythm wild and free,
With is pleading and entreaty
Pouring forth upon the sea
Of darkness, vast and silent,
Like a tiny ray of hope
That oft-times comes to comfort
When in sorrow’s depths we grope?

‘Tis the An-gu, the Kat-ci-na,
‘Tis the Hopi’s song of prayer,

That in darkness wards off danger,
When ’tis breathed in the air;
Over desert, butte, and mesa,
It is borne out on the night,
Dispelling fear and danger,
Driving evil swift a-flight.

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