WE trekked our way to the desert,
My soul and I, alone:
We passed beyond the world of men,
And all men call their own,
And came where never yet were laws
On parchment writ or stone.
Mid vast and barren stretches
Where Age speaks not to Age,
Where ne'er doth spring a living thing
Save the everlasting sage,
I felt as the savage coyote, free—
With a freedom naught could cage.
No milestones mark the desert:
Though seasons come and go,
Where the arid sands unmeasured lie
None through the hour-glass flow;
The desert has no memory—
Nor can of promise know.
Unfettered mid the silence,
Escaped from rule and law,
The desert, like a sea-floor vast,
Exultantly I saw;
Yet distant heights that pierced the blue,
Still troubled me with awe;
And when, turned from the mountains,
I passed beyond the brush
Where a sea-floor without weed or shell
Burns breathless in the hush,
There came mirage my sense to mock
With grasses sweet and lush.
Thirst, not as that for water,—
A thirst ne'er felt before,—
Parched gradual in the soul of me
Till I could bear no more;
Earth seemed to cry: "Now whither fly
From the dearth you struggled for?"
Reluctant, slow returning
The common lot to share,
With a new and strange emotion—
Half longing, half despair,
I said: "For man is no escape:
Here bides the Law, as there!"