came again to say that now it was quite extraordinary. No words can depict the glory that met our eyes. The glowing fire-masses had divided into glistening many-colored bands wh were writhing & twisting across the sky both in the S. & N. The rays sparkled with the purest most crystalline rainbow colors, chiefly violet-red or carmine & the clearest green. Most frequently the rays of the arch were red at the ends & changed higher up into sparkling green, wh quite at the top turned darker & went over into blue or violet before disappearing in the blue of the sky; or the rays in one & the same arch might change from clear red to clear green coming & going as if driven
by a storm. It was an endless phantasmagoria of sparkling color surpassing anything that one can dream. Sometimes the spectacle reached such a climax that one’s breath was taken away; one felt that now something extraordinary must happen—at the very least the sky must fall. But as one stands in breathless expectation, down the whole thing trips…When we are on the point of going below…there is a wild display of fire-works in every tint of flame—such a conflagration that one expects every minute to have it down on the ice because there is not room for it in the sky.
Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist