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Buffalo Poems

Table of Contents

Buffalo Poems
The Migration of the Buffalos
by Georges Frédéric Rötig
  1. Lines to a Buffalo by Mrs. L. C. Hopkins
  2. The Buffalo Trail by Charles Badger Clark
  3. Out of the Kansas Dust by George T. and C. L. Edson
  4. The Last Buffalo by Isaac McLellan
  5. To a Buffalo Skull by Charles Badger Clark
  6. Buffalo Dusk by Carl Sandburg


“...the buffalo come like a cloud on the plain.
Pouring on like the tide of a storm-driven main...”

– Joaquin Miller
The Plains
  1. Lines to a Buffalo

    by Mrs. L. C. Hopkins

    Far out upon the prairie,
    Today I idly roam;
    This erst was called the hunters' range,
    The noble bisons' home.

    Here proud of man, he grandly strode,
    A monarch in his might.
    Fearless he scanned his vast abode,
    With keen, far-reaching sight.

    Too soon, alas! the whistling ball
    Sped swift, upon its way.
    Brave to the death, I saw thee fall
    And marked thy closing day.

    Again thy trail I cross, Alas!
    'Twas here I saw thee die.
    And here beneath the tangled grass
    Thy bleaching bones, espy.

  2. The Buffalo Trail

    The Buffalo Trail
    When the Land Belonged to God
    by Charles Marion Russell
    by Charles Badger Clark

    Deeply the buffalo trod it
    Beating it barren as brass;
    Now the soft rain-fingers sod it,
    Green to the crest of the pass.
    Backward it slopes into history;
    Forward it lifts into mystery.
    Here is but wind in the grass.

    Backward the millions assemble,
    Bannered with dust overhead,
    Setting the prairie a-tremble
    Under the might of their tread.
    Forward the sky-line is glistening
    And to the reach of our listening
    Drifts not a sound from the dead.

    Quick, or the swift seasons fade it!
    Look on his works while they show.
    This is the bison. He made it.
    Thus say the old ones who know.
    This is the bison—a pondering
    Vague as the prairie wind wandering
    Over the green or the snow.

  3. Out of the Kansas Dust, excerpt

    by George T. and Charles L. Edson

    Out of the dust of Kansas,
    In old, primeval days;
    Out of the shroud of a drifting cloud
    Across its grassy ways
    Flaunting the flag of the prairie dust,
    The shaggy bisons graze,
    Over a landscape red with rust
    The herds emerge from the Kansas dust.

  4. The Last Buffalo

    by Isaac McLellan

    Last of his royal race!
    He wanders lonely, o'er the trackless waste,
    Pausing the rolling river's tide to taste,
    In the broad desert space.

    Gone is that multitude,
    That rang'd the grassy, limitless domain,
    Cropping the sumptuous herbage of the plain,
    Their sweet, luxuriant food.

    Great monarch of the field!
    His shaggy head moved grandly at the front,
    Triumphant ever in the battle's front,
    Scorning to fly or yield.

    By Alleghany's chain,
    Where the gray summits of the mountains pile,
    In the green vales 'neath rocky Mount's defile,
    The bisons rang'd each plain.

    Years since, long-vanish'd years,
    These giant herds swept o'er the pastures wide,
    By Mississippi's shore, Missouri's tide,
    Speeding their grand careers.

    What terrors they had known!
    When rag'd o'er prairies the consuming fire,
    When wood and plain, one vast funereal pyre,
    With grassy blaze were strown!

    Sw1ft the wild cattle fled,
    When flam'd afar red Con flagration's sword,
    Speeding to lakelet marge or river ford,
    In tumults dread.

    How frantic was their speed,
    When Indian tribesmen came with bloody hand,
    The Blackfoot warriors and the Sioux band,
    On galloping, desert steed!

    How frantic was the race,
    While pitiless the whistling arrows sped,
    The lassos thrown, the spears with carnage red,
    In fierce, relentless chase!

    How terrible their lot,
    When the train'd soldier from some frontier post
    With deadly rifle charg'd the flying host
    With sabre and with shot!

    Those great herds pass'd away!
    Like leaves autumnal scatter'd o'er the plains;
    Not a poor remnant of them here remains,
    In plain or forest-way.

    Crippled and daz'd, alone,
    Staggering and reeling, bleeding at each pore,
    Last of his race, a sovereign now no more,
    He gasps his dying moan!

  5. To a Buffalo Skull

    To a Buffalo Skull
    Memories (Detail)
    by Unknown
    by Charles Badger Clark

    On the sable wall your great skull gleams,
    A regal ornament;
    A relic of weathered bone and horn,
    Once lord of a continent.

    The war-lord, yea, of a countless host,
    But gone is your kingly sway;
    For never again will you head the herd
    In the spring when the young calves play.

    All bleached with the merciless sun and rain
    Of many and many a day,
    You're all that is left to tell the tale
    How the black lines passed this way.

  6. Buffalo Dusk

    by Carl Sandburg

    The buffaloes are gone.
    And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
    Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their
    hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a
    great pageant of dusk,
    Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
    And the buffaloes are gone.

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