1A startled stag, the blue-grey Night,
2Leaps down beyond black pines.
3Behind--a length of yellow light--
4The hunter's arrow shines:
5His moccasins are stained with red,
6He bends upon his knee,
7From covering peaks his shafts are sped,
8The blue mists plume his mighty head,--
9Well may the swift Night flee!
10The pale, pale Moon, a snow-white doe,
11Bounds by his dappled flank:
12They beat the stars down as they go,
13Like wood-bells growing rank.
14The winds lift dewlaps from the ground,
15Leap from the quaking reeds;
16Their hoarse bays shake the forests round,
17With keen cries on the track they bound,--
18Swift, swift the dark stag speeds!
19Away! his white doe, far behind,
20Lies wounded on the plain;
21Yells at his flank the nimblest wind,
22His large tears fall in rain;
23Like lily-pads, small clouds grow white
24About his darkling way;
25From his bald nest upon the height
26The red-eyed eagle sees his flight;
27He falters, turns, the antlered Night,--
28The dark stag stands at bay!
29His feet are in the waves of space;
30His antlers broad and dun
31He lowers; he turns his velvet face
32To front the hunter, Sun;
33He stamps the lilied clouds, and high
34His branches fill the west.
35The lean stork sails across the sky,
36The shy loon shrieks to see him die,
37The winds leap at his breast.
38Roar the rent lakes as thro' the wave
39Their silver warriors plunge,
40As vaults from core of crystal cave
41The strong, fierce muskallunge;
42Red torches of the sumach glare,
43Fall's council-fires are lit;
44The bittern, squaw-like, scolds the air;
45The wild duck splashes loudly where
46The rustling rice-spears knit.
47Shaft after shaft the red Sun speeds:
48Rent the stag's dappled side,
49His breast, fanged by the shrill winds, bleeds,
50He staggers on the tide;
51He feels the hungry waves of space
52Rush at him high and blue;
53Their white spray smites his dusky face,
54Swifter the Sun's fierce arrows race
55And pierce his stout heart thro'.
56His antlers fall; once more he spurns
57The hoarse hounds of the day;
58His blood upon the crisp blue burns,
59Reddens the mounting spray;
60His branches smite the wave--with cries
61The loud winds pause and flag--
62He sinks in space--red glow the skies,
63The brown earth crimsons as he dies,
64The strong and dusky stag.