Sunset at the Mouth of the Columbia

by Frances Fuller Victor

There sinks the sun; like cavalier of old,

Servant of crafty Spain,

He flaunts his banner, barred with blood and gold,

Wide o'er the western main,

A thousand spear heads glint beyond the trees

In columns bright and long:

While kindling fancy hears upon the breeze

The swell and shout of song.

And yet, not here Spain's gay, adventurous host,

Dipped sword or planted cross;

The treasures guarded by this rock-bound coast,

Counted them gain nor loss.

The blue Columbia, sired by the eternal hills,

And wedded with the sea;

O'er golden sands, tithes from a thousand rills,

Rolled in lone majesty—

Through deep ravine, through burning, barren plain,

Through wild and rocky strait,

Through forest dark, and mountain rent in twain,

Toward the sunset gate.

While curious eyes, keen with the lust of gold,

Caught not the informing gleam;

These mighty breakers age on age have rolled

To meet this mighty stream.

Age after age these noble hills have kept,

The same majestic lines:

Age after age the horizon's edge been swept

By fringe of pointed pines.

Summers and Winters circling came and went,

Bringing no change of scene;

Unresting, and unhasting, and unspent,

Dwelt nature here serene.

Till God's own time to plant of Freedom's seed,

In this selected soil;

Denied forever unto blood and greed;

But blest to honest toil.

There sinks the sun. Gay Cavalier! no more

His banners trail the sea,

And all his legions shining on the shore

Fade into mystery.

The swelling tide laps on the shingly beach,

Like any starving thing;

And hungry breakers, white with wrath, upreach,

In vain clamoring.

The shadows fall; just level with mine eye

Sweet Hesper stands and shines,

And shines beneath an arc of golden sky,

Pinked round with pointed pines.

A noble scene! all breadth, deep tone and power,

Suggesting glorious themes;

Shaming the idler who would fill the hour

With unsubstantial dreams.

Be mine the dreams prophetic, shadowing forth

The things that yet shall be,

When through this gate the treasures of the North

Flow outward to the sea.