Nature Notes

Vol. XIII September - 1935 No. 3

The Sage of Mount Rainier

What wond'rous changes here have been,
Before there came this beauteous scene;
Vast eons since the sea rolled deep
Where stands yon snow-clad mountain steep;
The floor of that primeval main
Became dry land, a rising plain,
And verdure came and waters ran
Before the time of earliest man,
And beauty-spots were there, no doubt,
Had man been there, to rhyme about.

To mountains tall arose that plain;
Long ages wore these down again,
Till granite rocks, the mountains' core,
Were bared to sky, and these, too, wore
To shapes fantastic, steep and bare.
Spires, minarets and towers in air.

Then Vulcan's belching foundries roared,
And over all his lavas poured.
And dread Destruction here held sway,
And Life's soft beauty fades away.
Flow after flow, as ages passed,
Built up this cone-shaped mountain vast;
Between the flows Life came again,
Slow creeping upward for the plain,
And plants seemed victors in the strife,
Till new flows blotted out their life.

And once old Vulcan, angry grown,
The top clear off his fort had blown;
Then lesser forts he built inside
Its yawning crater, deep and wide.

Thus up and down the battle swayed,
Life's forces rallied, undismayed;
Like armies eager to attack.
Life's green-clad soldiers gathered back;
At last old Vulcan, wearied, quailed.
The fires within his foundries failed;
His fort, that fires had built and kept,
The Frost King took, while Vulcan slept;
That fount of fire, the mountain's crest,
Is now snow-crowned, in beauty dressed.

The war goes on, but slower now,
No longer lava torrents plow
Like devastating armored tanks
Into the green invading ranks.
Now slow-paced glaciers sally down
From their strong-hold, the mountain's crown,
Against Life's armies massed below,
And these, to meet this latest foe,
To siege have slowed their moving strife,
For Time fights on the side of life.

Some dart-shaped seeds are scattered far,
By upward winds that aid their war;
And some o'er winter's drifts are rolled,
Awaiting spring, defying cold;
And some seed-pods like shells explode,
And scatter their aggressive load;
By hairs of beasts a few are borne,
That cling by hoof or barbe'd thorn;
And helped by each ascending breeze
Some sally from the sheltering trees;
Birds, squirrels and conies aid them too,
And scatter seeds, and thus renew
Their kinds to carry on the strife;
Vast interlocking plans has Life,
On plants an animal depends,
And animals are plants real friends
When autumn comes the hopeful seeds
Dig in, and dream of daring deeds
When spring shall wake them to new life
To carry on their parent's strife.

portion of the crater of Mount Rainier

And far within the Frost King's land
We find entrenched an outpost band,
For minute plants in millions grow
In small red spots once called "red snow";
Their conquest is already made,
They hold their post, the flowers to aid.

And not alone the plants make way
Against the Frost King's dread array;
Strange crawling things that seem to shun
The genial warmth of summer sun
Now seek protection, for a space,
From him, in some cold glacier's face;
Thus worms and spring-tails find their home
Where down the slopes the ice-flows come.

Life's lowest forms have thus won through,
And man, her highest, conquers too;
Despite his superstitious past,
And garnered crops of error vast,
His sons have come to know and dare
The forces of the Frost King's lair,
Have ascertained their metes and bounds,
And know their warning sights and sounds,
And how to meet those forces best,
Have climbed the mountain's highest crest.


Now in the meadows a great host
Of flowers have gathered and made boast,
That given time, they'll win the fight,
And drive the Frost King from his height,
When, by his own attrition worn,
His ancient fort, by fires up-borne,
Shall crumble to a peneplain
And Life can easy entrance gain.
Each summer sees their sure advance;
They lose to winter's adverse chance;
But Life's a forward-looking force,
And wills to progress on her course.
She casts ahead her patient view,
And plans next spring's attack anew.
Thus Life, Dame Nature's youngest child,
Though seeming frail, and soft and mild,
Has faith that she can still exist.
Despite the cold and shrouding mist
Of darkened days; she seeks the height
And upward struggles toward the light.
And with desire to be free.
Aspiring to eternity.
She battles on, with upward gaze,
And treads the labyrinth and maze
Of adverse creeds, and hostile powers.
Hopeful and joyous like the flowers,
For Time shall broaden all her rights,
And Life is loveliest scaling heights.

A. J. Styles,
August 4th, 1934

Mountain Rainier from Spray Park

<<< Previous
> Cover <
Next >>>