The Yosemite

Waiting to-night for the moon to rise
O'er the cliffs that narrow Yosemite's skies;
Waiting for darkness to melt away
In the silver light of a midnight day;

Waiting, like one in a waking dream,
I stand alone by the rushing stream.
Alone, in a temple vast and grand,
With spire and turret on every hand;

A world's cathedral, with walls sublime,
Chiselled and carved by the hand of Time;
And over all heaven's crowning dome,
Whence gleam the beacon-lights of home.

The spectral shadows dissolve; and now
The moonlight halos El Capitan's brow;
And the lesser stars grow pale and dim
Along the sheer-cut mountain rim;
Till, touched with magic, the gray walls stand
Like phantom mountains on either band.

Yet I know they are real, for I see the spray
Of Yosemite Fall in the moonlight play,
Swaying and trembling, a radiant glow
From the sky above to the vale below;
Like the ladder of old to Jacob given—
A line of light from earth to heaven.

And there comes to my soul a vision dear,
As of shining spirits hovering near;
And I feel the sweet and wondrous power
Of a presence that fills the midnight hour;
And I know that Bethel is everywhere,
For prayer is the foot of the angel stair.

A light divine, a holy rest,
Floods all the valley and fills my breast;
The very mountains are hushed in sleep
From Eagle Point to Sentinel Keep;
And a life-long lesson is taught me to-night,
When shrouded in shadow, to wait for the light.

Waiting at dawn for the morn to break
By the crystal waters of Mirror Lake;
Waiting to see the mountains gray
Clearly defined in the light of day;
Reflected and throned in glory here,
A lakelet that seems but the valley's tear.

Waiting; but look! the South Dome bright
Is floating now in a sea of light;
And Cloud's Rest, glistening with caps of snow,
Inverted stands in the vale below,
With tow'ring peaks and cliffs on high,
Hanging to meet another sky.

O crystal gem in setting rare!
O soul-like mirror in middle air!
O forest heart of eternal love!
Earth-born, but pure as heaven above,
This Sabbath morn we find in thee
The poet's dream of purity.

The hours pass by; I am waiting now
On Glacier Point's o'erhanging brow;
Waiting to see the picture pass,
Like the fleeting show of a wizard-glass;
Waiting; and still the vision seems
Woven of light and colored with dreams.

But the cloud-capped towers, and pillars gray,
Securely stand in the light of day;
The Temple wall is firm and sure;
The worshippers pass, but it shall endure,
And will, while loud Yosemite calls
To bright Nevada and Vernal Falls.

O grand and majestic organ choir,
With deep-toned voices that never tire!
O anthem written in notes that glow
On the rainbow bars of Po-ho-no!
O sweet “Te Denm” forever sung,
With spray, like incense, heavenward swung!—

Thy music my soul with rapture thrills,
And there comes to my lips “The templed hills;
Thy rocks and rills,” a nation's song,
From valley to mountain borne along;
My country's temple, built for thee,
Crowned with the Cap of Liberty!

O country reaching from shore to shore!
O fairest land the wide world o'er!
Columbia dear, whose mountains rise
From fertile valleys to sunny skies,
Stand firm and sure, and bold and free,
As thy granite-walled Yosemite.
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