Walt Whitman: The Spanish Peaks

Portrait of Walt Whitman seated, taken in circa 1867
Walt Whitman, circa 1867

Between Pueblo and Bent’s fort, southward, in a clear afternoon sun-spell I catch exceptionally good glimpses of the Spanish peaks. We are in southeastern Colorado—pass immense herds of cattle as our first-class locomotive rushes us along—two or three times crossing the Arkansas, which we follow many miles, and of which river I get fine views, sometimes for quite a distance, its stony, upright, not very high, palisade banks, and then its muddy flats. We pass Fort Lyon—lots of adobie houses—limitless pasturage, appropriately flecked with those herds of cattle—in due time the declining sun in the west—a sky of limpid pearl over all—and so evening on the great plains. A calm, pensive, boundless landscape—the perpendicular rocks of the north Arkansas, hued in twilight—a thin line of violet on the southwestern horizon—the palpable coolness and slight aroma—a belated cow-boy with some unruly member of his herd—an emigrant wagon toiling yet a little further, the horses slow and tired—two men, apparently father and son, jogging along on foot—and around all the indescribable chiaroscuro and sentiment, (profounder than anything at sea,) athwart these endless wilds.

– Walt Whitman, written while on a trip in Colorado in 1879

“Walt Whitman: The Spanish Peaks” sources: “The Spanish Peaks – Evening on the Plains” – Specimen Days, published in 1882. Complete Prose Works – Project Gutenberg / Photograph taken by Matthew Brady circa 1867 – National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Feinberg, NPG.76.96

Note: click here to read a note written by Walt Whitman on the death of Abraham Lincoln.