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Supported in part by an award from the Wyoming State Historical Records Advisory Board, through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), National Archives and Records Administration.

Artistic Expression: Winds Inspire Words

October 12, 2017

 

 

Osborne Russell was a mountain man who joined the North-west Fur Trapping & Trading Company in the 1830's. He started writing his adventures in the fur trade in April 1834 which were eventually published into the well known novel "Journal of a Trapper." This is one of the only first hand accounts published today. Among all of Russell's writings, he mused on his time in the mountains in a way that many can relate to...poetry. Thankfully, after all these years we can read his poetry and get a glimpse into the mind of the famous trapper. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hunter's Farewell - By Osborne Russell. June 22, 1842

 

Adieu, ye hoary, icy-mantled towers,

     That oftimes pierce the onward fleeting mists,

Whose feet are washed by gentle summer showers,

     While Phoebus' rays play on your sparkling crests;

The smooth, green valves you seem prepared to guard,

     Beset with groves of ever-verdant pine,

Would furnish themes for Albion's noble bards,

      Far 'bove a hunter's rude, unvarnish'd rhyme.

 

Adieu, ye flocks that skirt the mountain's brow

      And sport on banks of everlasting snow,

Ye timid lambs and simple, harmless ewes,

      Who fearless view the dread abyss below;

Oft have I watched your seeming mad career

      While lightly tripping o'er those dismal heights,

Or cliffs o'erhaning yawning caverns drear,

      Where none else tread save fowls of airy flight.

 

Oft have I climbed these rough, stupendous rocks

      In search of food 'mongst Nature's well-fed heards,

Until I've gained the rugged mountain's top,

      Where Boreas reigned or feathered monarch soar'd;

One some rude crag projecting from the ground

      I've sat a while my wearied limbs to rest,

And scanned the unsuspecting flocks around

      With anxious care selecting out the best.

 

The prize obtained, with slow and heavy step

      Pac'd down the steep and narrow winding path,

To some smooth vale where crystal streamlets met,

      And skillfull hands prepared a rich repast;

Then hunters' jokes and merry humor'd sport

      Beguiled the time, enlivened every face,

The hours flew fast and seemed like moments, short,

      'Til twinkling planets told of midnight's pace.

 

But now those scenes of cheerful mirth are done,

      The antlered herds are dwindling very fast,

The numerous trails so deep by bison worn,

      Now teem with weeds or overgrown with grass;

A few gaunt wolves now scattered o'er the place

      Where herds, since time unknown to man, have fed,

With lonely howls and sluggish, onward pace,

      Tell their sad fate and where their bones are laid.

 

Ye rugged mounts, ye valves, ye streams and trees,

     To you a hunter bid his last farewell,

I'm bound for shores of distant western seas,

     To view far-famed Multnomah's fertile vale;

I'll leave these regions, once famed hunting grounds,

     Which I, perhaps, again shall see no more,

And follow down, led by the setting sun,

     Or distant sound of proud Columbia's roar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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