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Cowboy Poems

Table of Contents

Cowboy Poems
A Bad Hoss
by Charles Marion Russell
  1. A Prairie Song by Anonymous
  2. The Cowboy's Life by Anonymous
  3. The Railroad Corral by Anonymous
  4. Ridin' by Charles Badger Clark
  5. The Song of the Leather by Charles Badger Clark
  6. A Cowboy's Prayer by Charles Badger Clark
  7. The Wind is Blowin' by Charles Badger Clark
  8. The Christmas Trail by Charles Badger Clark
  9. The Outlaw by Charles Badger Clark
  10. The Pale Horse by James W. Whilt
  11. The Tied Maverick by Charles Badger Clark
  12. The Old Frying Pan by James W. Whilt
  13. Bacon by Charles Badger Clark
  14. Southwestern June by Charles Badger Clark
  15. To Her by Charles Badger Clark
  16. A Roundup Lullaby by Charles Badger Clark
  17. From Town by Charles Badger Clark
  18. A Bad Half Hour by Charles Badger Clark
  19. Hawse Work by Charles Badger Clark
  20. The Camp-fire Has Gone Out by Anonymous
  21. The Dying Cowboy by H. Clemons
  22. Passing of the Range by James W. Whilt
  23. The Old Cow Man by Charles Badger Clark

  1. A Prairie Song

    A Prairie Song
    Men of the Open Range
    by Charles Marion Russell
    by Anonymous

    Oh, music springs under the galloping hoofs,
    Out on the plains;
    Where mile after mile drops behind with a smile,
    And to-morrow seems always to tempt and beguile,—
    Out on the plains.

    Oh, where are the traces of yesterday's ride?
    There to the north;
    Where alfalfa and sage sigh themselves into sleep,
    Where the buttes loom up suddenly, startling and steep,—
    There to the north.

    Oh, rest not my pony, there's youth in my heart,
    Out on the plains;
    And the wind sings a wild song to rob me of care,
    And there's room here to live and to love and to dare,—
    Out on the plains.

  2. The Cowboy's Life

    by Anonymous

    The bawl of a steer
    To a cowboy's ear
    Is music of sweetest strain;
    And the yelping notes
    Of the gray coyotes
    To him are a glad refrain.

    And his jolly songs
    Speed him along
    As he thinks of the little gal
    With golden hair
    Who is waiting there
    At the bars of the home corral.

    For a kingly crown
    In the noisy town
    His saddle he wouldn't change;
    No life so free
    As the life we see
    'Way out on the Yaso range.

    His eyes are bright
    And his heart as light
    As the smoke of his cigarette;
    There's never a care
    For his soul to bear,
    No trouble to make him fret.

    The rapid beat
    Of his bronco's feet,
    On the sod as he speeds along,
    Keeps living time
    To the ringing rhyme
    Of his rollicking cowboy's song.

    Hike it, cowboys,
    For the range away
    On the back of a bronc of steel,
    With a careless flirt
    Of the raw-hide quirt
    And the dig of a roweled heel.

    The winds may blow
    And the thunder growl
    Or the breeze may safely moan;
    A cowboy's life
    Is a royal life,
    His saddle his kingly throne.

    Saddle up, boys,
    For the work is play
    When love's in the cowboy's eyes,
    When his heart is light
    As the clouds of white
    That swim in the summer skies.

  3. The Railroad Corral

    The Railroad Corral
    And So, Unemotionally, There Began One of the Wildest and Strangest Journeys Ever Made in Any Land
    by W. H. D. Koerner
    by Anonymous

    Oh, we're up in the morning ere breaking of the day,
    The chuck-wagon's busy, the flapjacks in play;
    The herd is astir o'er hillside and vale,
    With the night riders rounding them into the trail.
    Oh, come take up your cinches, come shake out your reins;
    Come wake your old bronco and break for the plains;
    Come roust out your steers from the long chaparral,
    For the outfit is off to the railroad corral.

    The sun circles upward; the steers as they plod
    Are pounding to powder the hot prairie sod;
    And it seems, as the dust makes you dizzy and sick,
    That we'll never reach noon and the cool shady creek.
    But tie up your kerchief and ply up your nag;
    Come dry up your grumbles and try not to lag,
    Come with your steers from the long chaparral
    For we're far on the road to the railroad corral.

    The afternoon shadows are starting to lean,
    When the chuck-wagon sticks in the marshy ravine;
    The herd scatters farther than vision can look,
    For you can bet all true punchers will help out the cook.
    Come shake out your rawhide and snake it up fair;
    Come break your old bronco to take in his share;
    Come from your steers in the long chaparral,
    For 't is all in the drive to the railroad corral.

    But the longest of days must reach evening at last,
    The hills all climbed, the creeks all past;
    The tired herd droops in the yellowing light;
    Let them loaf if they will, for the railroad's in sight.
    So flap up your holster and snap up your belt,
    And strap up your saddle whose lap you have felt;
    Good-bye to the steers from long chaparral,
    For there's a town that's a trunk by the railroad corral.

  4. Ridin'

    by Charles Badger Clark

    There is some that likes the city—
    Grass that's curried smooth and green,
    Theaytres and stranglin' collars,
    Wagons run by gasoline—
    But for me it's hawse and saddle
    Every day without a change,
    And a desert sun a-blazin'
    On a hundred miles of range.

    Just a-ridin', a-ridin'—
    Desert ripplin' in the sun,
    Mountains blue along the skyline—
    I don't envy anyone
    When I'm ridin'.

    When my feet is in the stirrups
    And my hawse is on the bust,
    With his hoofs a-flashin' lightnin'
    From a cloud of golden dust,
    And the bawlin' of the cattle
    Is a-coming' down the wind
    Then a finer life than ridin'
    Would be mighty hard to find.

    Just a-ridin, a-ridin'—
    Splittin' long cracks through the air,
    Stirrin' up a baby cyclone,
    Rippin' up the prickly pear
    As I'm ridin'.

    I don't need no art exhibits
    When the sunset does her best,
    Paintin' everlastin' glory
    On the mountains to the west
    And your opery looks foolish
    When the night-bird starts his tune
    And the desert's silver mounted
    By the touches of the moon.

    Just a-ridin', a-ridin',
    Who kin envy kings and czars
    When the coyotes down the valley
    Are a-singin' to the stars,
    If he's ridin'?

    When my earthly trail is ended
    And my final bacon curled
    And the last great roundup's finished
    At the Home Ranch of the world
    I don't want no harps nor haloes,
    Robes nor other dressed up things—
    Let me ride the starry ranges
    On a pinto hawse with wings!

    Just a-ridin', a-ridin'—
    Nothin' I'd like half so well
    As a-roundin' up the sinners
    That have wandered out of Hell,
    And a-ridin'.

  5. The Song of the Leather

    by Charles Badger Clark

    When my trail stretches out to the edge of the sky
    Through the desert so empty and bright,
    When I'm watchin' the miles as they go crawlin' by
    And a-hopin' I'll get there by night,
    Then my hawse never speaks through the long sunny day,
    But my saddle he sings in his creaky old way:

    "Easy easy easy 
    For a temperit pace ain't a crime.
    Let your mount hit it steady, but give him his ease,
    For the sun hammers hard and there's never a breeze.
    We kin get there in plenty of time."

    When I'm after some critter that's hit the high lope,
    And a-spurrin' my hawse till he flies,
    When I'm watchin' the chances for throwin' my rope
    And a-winkin' the sweat from my eyes,
    Then the leathers they squeal with the lunge and the swing
    And I work to the livelier tune that they sing:

    "Reach 'im! reach 'im! reach 'im!
    If you lather your hawse to the heel!
    There's a time to be slow and a time to be quick;
    Never mind if it's rough and the bushes are thick 
    Pull your hat down and fling in the steel!"

    When I've rustled all day till I'm achin' for rest
    And I'm ordered a night-guard to ride,
    With the tired little moon hangin' low in the west
    And my sleepiness fightin' my pride,
    Then I nod and I blink at the dark herd below
    And the saddle he sings as my hawse paces slow:

    "Sleepy sleepy sleepy 
    We was ordered a close watch to keep,
    But I'll sing you a song in a drowsy old key;
    All the world is a-snoozin' so why shouldn't we?
    Go to sleep, pardner mine, go to sleep."

  6. A Cowboy's Prayer

    by Charles Badger Clark

    Oh Lord. I've never lived where churches grow.
    I love creation better as it stood
    That day You finished it so long ago
    And looked upon Your work and called it good.
    I know that others find You in the light
    That's sifted down through tinted window panes,
    And yet I seem to feel You near tonight
    In this dim, quiet starlight on the plains.

    I thank You, Lord, that I am placed so well,
    That You have made my freedom so complete;
    That I'm no slave of whistle, clock or bell,
    Nor weak-eyed prisoner of wall and street.
    Just let me live my life as I've begun
    And give me work that's open to the sky;
    Make me a pardner of the wind and sun,
    And I won't ask a life that's soft or high.

    Let me be easy on the man that's down;
    Let me be square and generous with all.
    I'm careless sometimes, Lord, when I'm in town,
    But never let 'em say I'm mean or small!
    Make me as big and open as the plains,
    As honest as the hawse between my knees,
    Clean as the wind that blows behind the rains,
    Free as the hawk that circles down the breeze!

    Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget.
    You know about the reasons that are hid.
    You understand the things that gall and fret;
    You know me better than my mother did.
    Just keep an eye on all that's done and said
    And right me, sometimes, when I turn aside,
    And guide me on the long, dim trail ahead
    That stretches upward toward the Great Divide.

  7. The Wind is Blowin'

    by Charles Badger Clark

    My tired hawse nickers for his own home bars;
    A hoof clicks out a spark.
    The dim creek flickers to the lonesome stars;
    The trail twists down the dark.
    The ridge pines whimper to the pines below.
    The wind is blowin' and I want you so.

    The birch has yellowed since I saw you last,
    The Fall haze blued the creeks,
    The big pine bellowed as the snow swished past,
    But still, above the peaks,
    The same stars twinkle that we used to know.
    The wind is blowin' and I want you so.

    The stars up yonder wait the end of time
    But earth fires soon go black.
    I trip and wander on the trail I climb—
    A fool who will look back
    To glimpse a fire dead a year ago.
    The wind is blowin' and I want you so.

    Who says the lover kills the man in me?
    Beneath the day's hot blue
    This thing hunts cover and my heart fights free
    To laugh an hour or two.
    But now it wavers like a wounded doe.
    The wind is blowin' and I want you so.

  8. The Christmas Trail

    by Charles Badger Clark

    The wind is blowin' cold down the mountain tips of snow
    And 'cross the ranges layin' brown and dead;
    It's cryin' through the valley trees that wear the mistletoe
    And mournin' with the gray clouds overhead.
    Yet it's sweet with the beat of my little hawse's feet
    And I whistle like the air was warm and blue,
    For I'm ridin' up the Christmas trail to you, Old folks, I'm a-ridin' up the Christmas trail to you.

    Oh, mebbe it was good when the whinny of the Spring
    Had wheedled me to hoppin' of the bars,
    And livin' in the shadow of a sailin' buzzard's wing
    And sleepin' underneath a roof of stars.
    But the bright campfire light only dances for a night,
    While the home-fire burns forever clear and true,
    So 'round the year I circle back to you, Old folks,
    'Round the rovin' year I circle back to you.

    Oh, mebbe it was good when the reckless Summer sun
    Had shot a charge of fire through my veins,
    And I milled around the whiskey and the fightin' and the fun
    'Mong the other mav'ricks drifted from the plains.
    Ay! the pot bubbled hot, while you reckoned I'd forgot,
    And the devil smacked the young blood in his stew,
    Yet I'm lovin' every mile that's nearer you, Good folks,
    Lovin' every blessed mile that's nearer you.

    Oh, mebbe it was good at the roundup in the Fall
    When the clouds of bawlin' dust before us ran,
    And the pride of rope and saddle was a-drivin' of us all
    To a stretch of nerve and muscle, man and man.
    But the pride sort of died when the man got weary eyed;

    'Twas a sleepy boy that rode the night-guard through,
    And he dreamed himself along a trail to you, Old folks,
    Dreamed himself along a happy trail to you.

    The coyote's Winter howl cuts the dusk behind the hill,
    But the ranch's shinin' window I kin see,
    And though I don't deserve it and, I reckon, never will,
    There'll be room beside the fire kep' for me.
    Skimp my plate 'cause I'm late. Let me hit the old kid gait,
    For tonight I'm stumblin' tired of the new
    And I'm ridin' up the Christmas trail to you, Old folks,
    I'm a-ridin' up the Christmas trail to you.

  9. The Outlaw

    The Outlaw
    The Troublemaker
    by William Robinson Leigh
    by Charles Badger Clark

    When my rope takes hold on a two-year-old,
    By the foot or the neck or the horn,
    He kin plunge and fight till his eyes go white
    But I'll throw him as sure as you're born.
    Though the taut ropes sing like a banjo string
    And the latigoes creak and strain,
    Yet I got no fear of an outlaw steer
    And I'll tumble him on the plain.

    For a man is a man, but a steer is a beast,
    And the man is the boss of the herd,
    And each of the bunch, from the biggest to least,
    Must come down when he says the word.

    When my leg swings 'cross on an outlaw hawse
    And my spurs clinch into his hide,
    He kin r'ar and pitch over hill and ditch,
    But wherever he goes I'll ride.
    Let 'im spin and flop like a crazy top
    Or flit like a wind-whipped smoke,
    But he'll know the feel of my rowelled heel
    Till he's happy to own he's broke.

    For a man is a man and a hawse is a brute,
    And the hawse may be prince of his clan
    But he'll bow to the bit and the steel-shod boot
    And own that his boss is the man.

    When the devil at rest underneath my vest
    Gets up and begins to paw
    And my hot tongue strains at its bridle reins,
    Then I tackle the real outlaw.
    When I get plumb riled and my sense goes wild
    And my temper is fractious growed,
    If he'll hump his neck just a triflin' speck,
    Then it's dollars to dimes I'm throwed.

    For a man is a man, but he's partly a beast.
    He kin brag till he makes you deaf,
    But the one lone brute, from the west to the east,
    That he kaint quite break is himse'f.

  10. The Pale Horse

    by James W. Whilt

    When I saddle the pale horse, to take my last ride,
    To the home ranch, over the Great Divide,
    Will I find the trail blazed all the way,
    A place to camp, at the close of day?

    Will the trail be smooth, and the weather fair?
    (For no one has ever come back from there)
    But the good book says, if we shoot square,
    "Have no fear of the trails over there!"

    An unseen hand guides the pale horse straight,
    O'er the summit height, to the home ranch gate,
    Where we all must meet the Boss Supreme,
    And all will be one pleasant dream.

    No herding of dogies on frost night,
    Or wild stampede in the morning's light.
    No cinching of saddles, or shipping of steers.
    No sorrow or trouble or bitter tears.

    But the sun will shine, and cool breezes blow,
    Over a range ever free from snow;
    And for those who lived as He who died
    To save us riders—that Great Divide

    Will be only a foothill, so very low;
    That on its summit sweet flowers do grow,
    And the trail itself will be smooth all the way,
    With a place to camp at the close of day.

    When at last I reach that Home Ranch gate,
    Peter will say, "You sure shot straight,"
    And the gate will open for me, I know,
    Saying, "Pull off your saddle, and let him go!"

  11. The Tied Maverick

    by Charles Badger Clark

    Lay on the iron! the tie holds fast
    And my wild record closes.
    This maverick is down at last
    Just roped and tied with roses.
    And one small girl's to blame for it,
    Yet I don't fight with shame for it 
    Lay on the iron; I'm game for it,
    Just roped and tied with roses.

    I loped among the wildest band
    Of saddle-hatin' winners 
    Gay colts that never felt a brand
    And scarred old outlaw sinners.
    The wind was rein and guide to us;
    The world was pasture wide to us
    And our wild name was pride to us 
    High headed bronco sinners!

    So, loose and light we raced and fought
    And every range we tasted,
    But now, since I'm corralled and caught,
    I know them days were wasted.
    From now, the all-day gait for me,
    The trail that's hard but straight for me,
    For down that trail, who'll wait for me!
    Ay! them old days were wasted!

    But though I'm broke, I'll never be
    A saddle-marked old groaner,
    For never worthless bronc like me
    Got such a gentle owner.
    There could be colt days glad as mine
    Or outlaw runs as mad as mine
    Or rope-flung falls as bad as mine,
    But never such an owner.

    Lay on the iron, and lay it red!
    I'll take it kind and clever.
    Who wouldn't hold a prouder head
    To wear that mark forever?
    I'll never break and stray from her;
    I'd starve and die away from her.
    Lay on the iron it's play from her 
    And brand me hers forever!

  12. The Old Frying Pan

    The Old Frying Pan
    Western Partners
    by Charles Marion Russell
    by James W. Whilt

    You may talk of your broilers, both single and double,
    Your roasters and toasters, they're all lots of trouble;
    But when out in the hills, just find if you can,
    Any kind of a dish like the old frying pan.

    Over a campfire you don't need a stove,
    Out in the hills, the place we all love,
    Such hotcakes they never were tasted by man,
    With many the thanks to the old frying pan.

    When the trout are all fried to a rich golden brown,
    I know old epicures would look, with a frown
    At the meal set before me; dispute it who can,
    With naught for a plate but the old frying pan.

    With the venison cooked, the potatoes all fried,
    Bannocks like bed-quilts, with coffee beside,
    You could eat till you busted, dispute it who can;
    Was dish e'er invented like the old frying pan?

    Many a miner, in the good days of old,
    Way back in the foothills a-searching for gold
    Deep in some creek-bed, for the rich yellow sand,
    Has panned out a grub-stake with the old frying pan.

    There's been cattle rustlers, when in a great hurry
    Used no other iron, but why should they worry,
    For many and many and many the brand,
    That has been blotched out with an old frying pan.

    So your praises I'll shout, both far, wide and high,
    That you're the best dish, till the day that I die;
    Why, there's many a woman "cleaned up" on her man
    With no other club but the old frying pan.

  13. Bacon

    by Charles Badger Clark

    You're salty and greasy and smoky as sin
    But of all grub we love you the best.
    You stuck to us closer than nighest of kin
    And helped us win out in the West,
    You froze with us up on the Laramie trail;
    You sweat with us down at Tucson;
    When Injun was painted and white man was pale
    You nerved us to grip our last chance by the tail
    And load up our Colts and hang on.

    You've sizzled by mountain and mesa and plain
    Over campfires of sagebrush and oak;
    The breezes that blow from the Platte to the main
    Have carried your savory smoke.
    You're friendly to miner or puncher or priest;
    You're as good in December as May;
    You always came in when the fresh meat had ceased
    And the rough course of empire to westward was greased
    By the bacon we fried on the way.

    We've said that you weren't fit for white men to eat
    And your virtues we often forget.
    We've called you by names that I darsn't repeat,
    But we love you and swear by you yet.
    Here's to you, old bacon, fat, lean streak and rin',
    All the westerners join in the toast,
    From mesquite and yucca to sagebrush and pine,
    From Canada down to the Mexican Line,
    From Omaha out to the coast!

  14. Southwestern June

    by Charles Badger Clark

    Lazy little hawse, it's noon
    And we've wasted saddle leather,
    But the mornin's slip so soon
    When we drift around together
    In this lazy, shinin' weather,
    Sunny, easy-goin' June.

    Who kin study shamblin' herds,
    How they calve or die or wander,
    When the bridegroom mockin'-birds,
    Singin' here and there and yonder,
    Trill that June's too bright to ponder
    And life's just too fine for words!

    Down the desert's hazy blue
    See the tall gray whirlwinds farin',
    Slow, contented sort of crew
    Trailin' 'cross the sunny barren,
    Headed nowhere and not carin'
    Just the same as me and you.

    From a world of unfenced room
    Just a breath of breeze is strayin',
    Triflin' with the yucca bloom
    Till its waxy bells are swayin',
    On my cheek warm kisses layin'
    Soft as touch of ostrich plume.

    When the July lightnin' gleams
    This brown range will start to workin',
    Hills be green and tricklin' streams
    Down each deep arroyo lurkin';
    Now the sleepy land is shirkin',
    Drowzin', smilin' in her dreams.

    Steppin' little hawse, it's noon.
    Turquoise blue the far hills glimmer;
    "Sun—sun—sun," the mockers croon
    Where the yellow range lands shimmer,
    And our sparklin' spirits simmer
    For we're young yet, and it's June!

  15. To Her

    To Her
    Against the Sunset
    by Frederic Remington
    by Charles Badger Clark

    Cut loose a hundred rivers,
    Roaring across my trail,
    Swift as the lightning quivers,
    Loud as a mountain gale.
    I build me a boat of slivers;
    I weave me a sail of fur,
    And ducks may founder and die
    But I
    Cross that river to her!

    Bunch the deserts together,
    Hang three suns in the vault;
    Scorch the lizards to leather,
    Strangle the springs with salt.
    I fly with a buzzard feather,
    I dig me wells with a spur,
    And snakes may famish and fry
    But I
    Cross that desert to her!

    Murder my sleep with revel;
    Make me ride through the bogs
    Knee to knee with the devil,
    Just ahead of the dogs.
    I harrow the Bad Lands level,
    I teach the tiger to purr,
    For saints may wallow and lie
    But I
    Go clean-hearted to her!

  16. A Roundup Lullaby

    by Charles Badger Clark

    Desert blue and silver in the still moonshine,
    Coyote yappin' lazy on the hill,
    Sleepy winks of lightnin' down the far sky line,
    Time for millin' cattle to be still.

    So o now, the lightnin's far away,
    The coyote's nothiny skeery;
    He's singin' to his dearie 
    Hee ya, tammalalleday!
    Settle down, you cattle, till the mornin'.

    Nothin' out the hazy range that you folks need,
    Nothin' we kin see to take your eye.
    Yet we got to watch you or you'd all stampede,
    Plungin' down some 'royo bank to die.

    So o, now, for still the shadows stay;
    The moon is slow and steady;
    The sun comes when he's ready.
    Hee ya, tammalalleday!
    No use runnin' out to meet the mornin'.

    Cows and men are foolish when the light grows dim,
    Dreamin' of a land too far to see.
    There, you dream, is wavin' grass and streams that brim
    And it often seems the same to me.

    So o, now, for dreams they never pay.
    The dust it keeps us blinkin',
    We're seven miles from drinkin'.
    Hee ya, tammalalleday!
    But we got to stand it till the mornin'.

    Mostly it's a moonlight world our trail winds through.
    Kaint see much beyond our saddle horns.
    Always far away is misty silver-blue;
    Always underfoot it's rocks and thorns.

    So o, now. It must be this away 
    The lonesome owl a-callin',
    The mournful coyote squallin'.
    Hee ya, tammalalleday!
    Mockin-birds don't sing until the mornin'.

    Always seein' 'wayoff dreams of silver-blue,
    Always feelin' thorns that slab and sting.
    Yet stampedin' never made a dream come true,
    So I ride around myself and sing.

    So o, now, a man has got to stay,
    A-likin' or a-hatin',
    But workin' on and waitin'.
    Hee ya, tammalalleday!
    All of us are waitin' for the mornin'.

  17. From Town

    From Town
    A Quiet Day in Utica
    by Charles Marion Russell
    by Charles Badger Clark

    We're the children of the open and we hate the haunts o' men,
    But we had to come to town to get the mail.
    And we're ridin' home at daybreak 'cause the air is cooler then 
    All 'cept one of us that stopped behind in jail.
    Shorty's nose won't bear paradin', Bill's off eye is darkly fadin',
    All our toilets show a touch of disarray,
    For we found that city life is a constant round of strife
    And we ain't the breed for shyin' from a fray.

    Chant your warwhoop, pardners dear, while the east turns pale with fear
    And the chaparral is tremblin' all aroun'
    For we're wicked to the marrer; we're a midnight dream of terror
    When we're ridin' up the rocky trail from town!

    We acquired our hasty temper from our friend, the centipede.
    From the rattlesnake we learnt to guard our rights.
    We have gathered fightin' pointers from the famous bronco steed
    And the bobcat teached us reppertee that bites.
    So when some high-collared herrin' jeered the garb that I was wearin'
    'Twas't long till we had got where talkin' ends,
    And he et his illbred chat, with a sauce of derby hat,
    While my merry pardners entertained his friends.

    Sing 'er out, my buckeroos! Let the desert hear the news.
    Tell the stars the way we rubbed the haughty down.
    We're the fiercest wolves a-prowlin' and it's just our night for howlin'
    When we're ridin' up the rocky trail from town.

    Since the days that Lot and Abram split the Jordan range in halves,
    Just to fix it so their punchers wouldn't fight,
    Since old Jacob skinned his dad-in-law for six years' crop of calves
    And then hit the trail for Canaan in the night,
    There has been a taste for battle 'mong the men that follow cattle
    And a love of doin' things that's wild and strange,
    And the warmth of Laban's words when he missed his speckled herds
    Still is useful in the language of the range.

    Sing 'er out, my bold coyotes! leather fists and leather throats,
    For we wear the brand of Ishm'el like a crown.
    We're the sons o' desolation, we're the outlaws of creation 
    Ee—yow! a-ridin' up the rocky trail from town!

  18. A Bad Half Hour

    by Charles Badger Clark

    Wonder why I feel so restless;
    Moon is shinin' still and bright,
    Cattle all is restin' easy,
    But I just kaint sleep tonight.
    Ain't no cactus in my blankets,
    Don't know why they feel so hard 
    'Less it's Warblin' Jim a-singin'
    "Annie Laurie" out on guard.

    "Annie Laurie" wish he'd quit it!
    Couldn't sleep now if I tried.
    Makes the night seem big and lonesome,
    And my throat feels sore inside.
    How my Annie used to sing it!
    And it sounded good and gay
    Nights I drove her home from dances
    When the east was turnin' gray.

    Yes, "her brow was like the snowdrift"
    And her eyes like quiet streams,
    "And her face" I still kin see it
    Much too frequent in my dreams;
    And her hand was soft and trembly
    That night underneath the tree,
    When I couldn't help but tell her
    She was "all the world to me."

    But her folks said I was "shif'less,"
    "Wild," "unsettled," they was right,
    For I leaned to punchin' cattle
    And I'm at it still tonight.
    And she married young Doc Wilkins 
    Oh my Lord! but that was hard!
    Wish that fool would quit his singin'
    "Annie Laurie" out on guard!

    Oh, I just kaint stand it thinkin'
    Of the things that happened then.
    Good old times, and all apast me!
    Never seem to come again 
    My turn? Sure. I'll come a-runnin'.
    Warm me up some coffee, pard 
    But I'll stop that Jim from singin'
    "Annie Laurie" out on guard.

  19. Hawse Work

    Hawse Work
    Pickin' A Good One
    by William Robinson Leigh
    by Charles Badger Clark

    Stop! there's the wild bunch to right of the trail,
    Heads up and ears up and ready to sail,
    Led by a mare with the green in her eyes,
    Mean as the devil and nearly as wise.
    Circle 'em, boys, and the pass is the place;
    Settle your heels for a rowelin' race.

    Oh, hawse work! the sweep and the drift of it! Hawse work! the leap and the lift of it!
    Who wants to fly in the empty blue sky When he kin ride on the hawse work!

    Ai! and they're off in a whirlwind. So!
    Straight in the line we don't want 'em to go;
    Light-footed, wild-hearted, look at 'em flit!
    Head 'em, now! rowel, and turn loose the bit!
    Whee! and the rip and the rush and the beat,
    Rattlin rocks and the whippin' mesquit!

    Oh, hawse work! the swing and the swell of it! Hawse work! the sing and the yell of it!
    Holler goodbye to the dull and the dry; Leave 'em behind on the hawse work.

    Shorty is down with his hawse in a heap;
    Might have pulled in for a gully so deep.
    Reddy he rides like he's tired of his life;
    Ought to be thinkin he's got a wife—
    Shrinkin' and thinkin' of bones that may crunch?
    No! Yip! we've headed the mare and her bunch!

    Oh, hawse work! the rip and the tear of it! Hawse work! the dip and the dare of it!
    Life flutters high when you're lookin' to die; That is the fun of the hawse work.

    Hi! and you're foolish for once, old lass,
    Streakin' it straight for the trap in the pass.
    Into the canyon the hoof-thunder drums—
    Where is that holdup? Hmp! there he comes,
    Crow-hoppin' down from the bluff—too late!
    Damn! and they're gone for a tour of the State!

    Oh, hawse work, the rant and the fuss of it!
    Hawse work! the pant and the cuss of it!
    Yet when I sigh and the world is a lie
    Give me a day on the hawse work!

  20. The Camp-fire Has Gone Out

    by Anonymous

    Through progress of the railroads our occupation's gone;
    So we will put ideas into words, our words into a song.
    First comes the cowboy; he is pointed for the west;
    Of all the pioneers I claim the cowboys are the best;
    You will miss him on the round-up; it's gone, his merry shout,—
    The cowboy has left the country and the camp-fire has gone out.

    There is the freighters, our companions; you've got to leave this land;
    Can't drag your loads for nothing through the gumbo and the sand.
    The railroads are bound to beat you when you do your level best;
    So give it up to the grangers and strike out for the west.
    Bid them all adieu and give the merry shout,—
    The cowboy has left the country and the camp-fire has gone out.

    When I think of those good old days, my eyes with tears do fill;
    When I think of the tin can by the fire and the coyote on the hill.
    I'll tell you, boys, in those days old-timers stood a show,—
    Our pockets full of money, not a sorrow did we know.
    But things have changed now; we are poorly clothed and fed.
    Our wagons are all broken and our ponies 'most all dead.
    Soon we will leave this country; you'll hear the angels shout,
    "Oh, here they come to Heaven, the camp-fire has gone out."

  21. The Dying Cowboy

    by H. Clemons

    "Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie";
    Those words came slow and mournfully
    From the pallid lips of a youth that lay
    On his dying couch at the close of day.

    He had wasted and pined till o'er his brow
    Death's shadows fast were drawing now;
    He had thought of home and the loved ones nigh,
    As the cowboys gathered to see him die.

    How oft have I listened to those well-known words,
    The wild wind and the sound of birds;
    He had thought of home and the cottonwood boughs,
    Of the scenes that he loved in his childhood hours.

    "I have always wished to be laid, when I died,
    In the old churchyard on the green hillside,
    By the grave of my father, oh, let my grave be;
    Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie.

    "I wish to be laid where a mother's care
    And a sister's tear can mingle there;
    Where friends can come and weep o'er me;
    Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie.

    "Oh, bury me not—" and his voice failed there;
    They paid no heed to his dying prayer;
    In a narrow grave just six by three,
    They laid him there on the lone prairie.

    Where the dewdrops fall and the butterfly rests,
    The wild rose blooms on the prairie's crest,
    Where the coyotes howl and the wind sports free,
    They laid him there on the lone prairie.

  22. Passing of the Range

    by James W. Whilt

    Today as I gaze o'er the prairie
    That stretches away into space,
    I look back only a few short years
    At the change that's taken place.

    When I was one of the cowboys,
    All our time was spent on the range;
    Now I don't see even one rider,—
    'Tis then I feel lonesome and strange.

    No trail-herds with plaintive lowing,
    No shouting, or singing to steers,
    No sound of horses mad galloping,—
    It almost moves me to tears.

    For then we rode stirrup to stirrup,
    While the jingle of spurs played a tune;
    Oh! could I go back to the round-up
    For a day at the cow-camp in June.

    When the grass was so green on the prairie,
    With the cattle all sleek and so fat,
    Each rider all dressed for hard riding,
    With high heels and chaps and wide hat.

    Each with his string of horses,
    Some broken and others half wild,
    The wilder the better he liked them,
    Happy and carefree as a child;—

    Wild as the steers that they wrangled,
    Hardy as the bronchos they rode,
    Ready to take others' troubles,
    Or carry another one's load.

    Those were the real days I tell you—
    Night-herding by light of the stars;
    Three weeks drive to the stockyards
    Where we loaded the steers in the cars.

    Then when the loading was finished
    And the cattle were on their way,
    The Boss called the bunch together
    And gave us our season's pay.

    We were just like a bunch of children,
    And many an old-timer like me
    Recalls being served in his saddle,
    When on a periodical spree.

    Now, cattle are held in pastures,
    They no longer roam wild and free,—
    And the cowboys are gone forever,
    Leaving only a memory.

    And as each one crosses the border
    That is over the Great Divide,
    I hope the bunk-house is ample
    And none will be left outside.

  23. The Old Cow Man

    by Charles Badger Clark

    I rode across a valley range
    I hadn't seen for years.
    The trail was all so spoilt and strange
    It nearly fetched the tears.
    I had to let ten fences down
    (The fussy lanes ran wrong)
    And each new line would make me frown
    And hum a mournin' song.

    Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
    Hear 'em stretchin' of the wire!
    The nester brand is on the land;
    I reckon I'll retire,
    While progress toots her brassy horn
    And makes her motor buzz,
    I thank the Lord I wasn't born
    No later than I was.

    'Twas good to live when all the sod,
    Without no fence nor fuss,
    Belonged in pardnership to God,
    The Gover'ment and us.
    With skyline bounds from east to west
    And room to go and come,
    I loved my fellow man the best
    When he was scattered some.

    Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
    Close and closer cramps the wire.
    There's hardly play to back away
    And call a man a liar.
    Their house has locks on every door;
    Their land is in a crate.
    These ain't the plains of God no more,
    They're only real estate.

    There's land where yet no ditchers dig
    Nor cranks experiment;
    It's only lovely, free and big
    And isn't worth a cent.
    I pray that them who come to spoil
    May wait till I am dead
    Before they foul that blessed soil
    With fence and cabbage head.

    Yet it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
    Far and farther crawls the wire.
    To crowd and pinch another inch
    Is all their heart's desire.
    The world is overstocked with men
    And some will see the day
    When each must keep his little pen,
    But I'll be far away.

    When my old soul hunts range and rest
    Beyond the last divide,
    Just plant me in some stretch of West
    That's sunny, lone and wide.
    Let cattle rub my tombstone down
    And coyotes mourn their kin,
    Let hawses paw and tromp the moun'
    But don't you fence it in!

    Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
    And they pen the land with wire.
    They figure fence and copper cents
    Where we laughed 'round the fire.
    Job cussed his birthday, night and morn.
    In his old land of Uz,
    But I'm just glad I wasn't born
    No later than I was!