The Road to Wyoming [poem by Evelyn Threlfall]

[Editor: This poem by Evelyn Threlfall was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]

The Road to Wyoming.

Upon the road to Wyoming
The cool ferns rustled in the wood,
When I rode forth to gain a thing
That was to me Life’s only good.
O Love so lightly understood !
O last gleam of a golden wing !
I may not ride now, though I would,
Upon the road to Wyoming.

The deep, cool stillness after rain,
The fragrant earth, the dripping trees,
The road still winding to attain
The far-off mountain’s mysteries,
The dappled shade the boughs would fling —
My dream of joy endeared all these
Upon the road to Wyoming.

Till, all the long miles ridden through,
I saw her standing by the fence
To greet me with a shyness new,
A heavenly coldness of pretence.
She knew the gift I came to bring,
She knew I loved her, soul and sense,
Upon the road to Wyoming.

She stood between the day and night,
Between red sunset and pale moon ;
Her head drooped in the mystic light
As droops a lily in the noon ;
Her voice was low and faltering,
Her beauty made my senses swoon,
Upon the road to Wyoming.

I leaped from off my horse in haste
(The moon grew bright, the day waxed pale)
The world without was but a waste :
I feared to let her power prevail,
Yet spoke, on reason’s backward swing ;
I kissed her, by the paddock rail,
Upon the road to Wyoming.

O unforgotten moment ! won
From out the clutch of ruthless Fate !
I clasped her close, my only one,
The mistress of my love and hate.
My heart that gold head pillowing, —
Ah me ! ah me ! we lingered late
Upon the road to Wyoming.

I rode away before the morn,
I rode to win her wealth and fame ;
Her love should never turn to scorn,
Her pride should be to bear my name.
For I would conquer Life, and bring
All gifts to feed that altar flame
Upon the road to Wyoming.

I whispered close to her pale mouth
One year should see me claim my bride ;
Then East and West and North and South
I fought the cold, fierce ocean-tide :
One gold tress twisted in a ring
Was all my token of that ride
Upon the road to Wyoming.

For her I fought, for her I won ;
I came when Summer’s golden haze
Lay on this land that loves the sun,
The land of pastoral, peaceful days . . .
Straight as a shaft flies from the string
I passed along the old, old ways
Upon the road to Wyoming.

I drew so near our meeting-place,
I dreamed I kissed her lips again ;
Then, ah ! I saw her living face,
Her grey eyes washed with purple stain,
Her shape, her light, swift footsteps’ swing,
Her loosened tresses’ golden grace,
Upon the road to Wyoming.

But, oh ! just gods ! even more than this
I saw, and better were she dead !
A stranger came that face to kiss,
And laughed, and stroked that sunlit head ;
Even now I feel the serpent sting
That turned the azure sky blood-red,
Upon the road to Wyoming.

I held my hand — I did not slay ;
O woman ! you were pale with fear,
I was the fool, — you cried that day ;
I left you for a whole long year,
As if you were a flower to fling
Aside for months ! — I had faint cheer
Upon the road to Wyoming.

For so you spoke when he was gone,
And I rode up and faced you there ;
Ah, well, poor reed that I leaned on,
You have some sorrow for your share !
I think your guardian saint took wing
When you grew false through sheer despair,
Upon the road to Wyoming.

Ah, better had you died, in truth ;
And I — I dreamed of death that hour ;
But in a flash, my stricken youth,
My slain love, faded like a flower.
I saw what gifts the years might bring :
Great truths should crush that falsehood’s power
Upon the road to Wyoming.

So forward to outlive the lie,
Far from your false white arms and breast !
Though I shall carry till I die
The fierce regret that cannot rest.
Though love has grown a worthless thing,
I see you always, golden tressed,
Upon the road to Wyoming.

I see you always, though again
I shall not clasp your perjured hand ;
Though love survive, betwixt us twain
For evermore the fierce gods stand !
Farewell ! for myriad voices sing
From shore to shore, though none remain
Upon the road to Wyoming.

Farewell ! farewell ! Had you been true,
Even life had been not much to miss ;
But now — a few more years lived through.
And we forget the pang of this.
— Death’s starry silence shall not bring
One promise precious as your kiss
Upon the road to Wyoming !

Evelyn Threlfall.



Source:
A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 145-150

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