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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. Oklahoma,— A Sonnet by Freeman E. Miller
  5. Fight of a Buffalo With Wolves by James McIntyre
  6. The Last Buffalo by Isaac McLellan
  7. To a Buffalo Skull by Charles Badger Clark
  8. 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. Oklahoma,— A Sonnet

    by Freeman E. Miller

    Here, through the ages old, the desert slept
    In solitudes unbroken, save when passed
    The bison herds, and savage hunters swept
    In thund'ring chaos down the valleys vast;
    But, lo! Across the barren margins stepped
    Advancement with her legions, and one blast
    From her imperial trumpet filled the last
    Lone covert where affrighted wildness crept.

    Full armed, full armored, at her wondrous birth,
    Her shining temples wreathed with gorgeous dower.
    She sits among the empires of the earth;
    Her proud achievements o'er the nations tower,
    Won by her people with their royal worth,
    With lofty culture, wisdom, wealth and power.

  5. Fight of a Buffalo With Wolves

    by James McIntyre

    A buffalo, lord of the plain,
    With massive neck and mighty mane,
    While from his herd he slowly strays,
    He on green herbage calm doth graze,
    And when at last he lifts his eyes
    A savage wolf he soon espies,
    But scarcely deigns to turn his head
    For it inspires him with no dread,
    He knows the wolf is treacherous foe
    But feels he soon could lay him low,
    A moment more and there's a pair
    Whose savage eyes do on him glare,
    But with contempt them both he scorns
    Unworthy of his powerful horns:
    Their numbers soon do multiply
    But the whole pack he doth defy,
    He could bound quickly o'er the plain
    And his own herd could soon regain;
    His foes they now are full a score
    With lolling tongues pant for his gore,
    He hears their teeth all loudly gnash
    So eager his big bones to crash,
    On every side they him infest,
    The north, the south, the east, the west
    Fierce rage doth now gleam from his eye,
    Resolved to conquer or to die,
    Round him they yelp and howl and growl,
    He glares on them with angry scowl,
    They circle closer him around,
    He roars and springs with mighty bound,
    And of his powers gives ample proof,
    Felling them with horn and hoof,
    Though some lay dead upon the plain,
    Yet their attack was not in vain,
    For they have tasted of his blood,
    Resolved it soon shall pour a flood,
    He feels that they have torn his hide,
    And streams gush from each limb and side,
    He rushes on them in despair
    And tosses them full high in air,
    But others rush on him and pull
    Down to the earth that glorious bull;
    On the flesh of this noble beast
    Their bloody jaws they soon do feast,
    Full worthy of a better fate
    Far from his herd and his dear mate,
    Who now do look for him in vain
    His bones do whiten now the plain.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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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