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Oregon Trail Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Oregon Trail by Arthur Guiterman
  2. The Trail of '49 by Ellen P. Allerton
  3. The Santa Fe Trail by Ed Blair
  4. The Old Country Store by Ed Blair
  5. Maid of the West-Land by J. C. Stead
  6. Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman
  7. The Pioneers by Hannah Flagg Gould
  8. The Pioneers by Herbert Bates
  9. Westward Ho! by Joaquin Miller
  10. Westward by Ellen P. Allerton
  11. By Grandsire's Well by Albina Brockway Letts
  12. The Westerner by Charles Badger Clark
  13. The Prairie Schooner by Charles Moreau Harger
  14. The "Prairie Schooner" by Evander A. Crewson
  15. The Prairie-Schooner by Carl Holliday
  16. Crossing the Plains by Joaquin Miller
  17. Old Maps to Oregon by Thomas Hornsby Ferril

  1. The Oregon Trail

    by Arthur Guiterman

    Two hundred wagons, rolling out to Oregon,
    Breaking through the gopher holes, lurching wide and free,
    Crawling up the mountain pass, jolting, grumbling, rumbling on,
    Two hundred wagons, rolling to the sea.

    From East and South and North they flock, to muster, row on row,
    A fleet of tenscore prairie ships beside Missouri's flow.
    The bullwhips crack, the oxen strain, the canvas-hooded files
    Are off upon the long, long trail of sixteen hundred miles.

    The women hold the guiding lines; beside the rocking steers
    With goad and ready rifle walk the bearded pioneers
    Through clouds of dust beneath the sun, through floods of sweeping rain
    Cross the Kansas prairie land, across Nebraska's plain.

    Two hundred wagons, rolling out to Oregon,
    Curved round the campfire flame at halt when day is done,
    Rest awhile beneath the stars, yoke again and lumber on,
    Two hundred wagons, rolling with the sun.

    Among the barren buttes they wind beneath the jealous view
    Of Blackfoot, Pawnee, Omaha, Arapahoe, and Sioux.
    No savage threat may check their course, no river deep and wide;
    They swim the Platte, they ford the Snake, they cross the Great Divide.
    They march as once from India's vales through Asia's mountain door
    With shield and spear on Europe's plain their fathers marched before.
    They march where leap the antelope and storm the buffalo
    Still westward as their fathers marched ten thousand years ago.

    Two hundred wagons, rolling out to Oregon,
    Creeping down the dark defile below the mountain crest,
    Surging through the brawling stream, lunging, plunging, forging on,
    Two hundred wagons, rolling toward the West.

    Now toils the dusty caravan with swinging wagon-poles
    Where Walla Walla pours along, where broad Columbia rolls.
    The long-haired trapper's face grows dark and scowls the painted brave;
    Where now the beaver builds his dam the wheat and rye shall wave.
    The British trader shakes his head and weighs his nation's loss,
    For where those hardy settlers come the Stars and Stripes will toss.
    Then block the wheels, unyoke the steers; the prize is his who dares;
    The cabins rise, the fields are sown, and Oregon is theirs!

    They will take, they will hold,
    By the spade in the mold,
    By the seed in the soil,
    By the sweat and the toil,
    By the plow in the loam,
    By the school and the home!

    Two hundred wagons, rolling out to Oregon,
    Two hundred wagons, ranging free and far,
    Two hundred wagons, rumbling, grumbling, rolling on,
    Two hundred wagons, following a star!

  2. The Trail of '49

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Across the prairie where I dwell,
    Stretches away, from swell to swell,
    A road that might a story tell.

    The track is wide and deeply cut
    By wheels of heavy wagons, but
    The rank grass grows in seam and rut.

    'Tis the old trail of "Forty-Nine;"—
    Thus history, in graven line,
    Has stamped this prairie home of mine.

    The years have passed with snow and rain,
    And mighty frosts upheaved—in vain—
    For still this track shows clear and plain.

    Tracing it where it winds away,
    There comes to me at twilight gray,
    A vision of another day.

    I see the covered wagons go,
    Across the prairie toiling slow,
    Through the dreary storm, through summer glow.

    I see them with their human freight—
    Hearts throbbing high with hope elate—
    Pass onward to a doubtful fate.

    Months pass: a weary, jaded train,
    Worn with fatigue, disease and pain,
    Creeps slowly o'er a desert plain.

    Above, a cloudless, burning sky;
    Below, naught greets the weary eye,
    Save wastes of sand and alkali.

    No rain descends, no water flows;
    No cool trees bsnd, no green thing grows;
    Yet still that sad train onward goes.

    Fatigue and thirst! No tongue can tell
    The victim's anguish, fierce and fell—
    His fondest dream a bubbling well.

    And some go mad and wildly rave;
    Some find what, at the last, they crave,
    The silence of a desert grave.

    The living speak in husky tones;
    The poor brutes drop with piteous moans;
    The track is paved with bleaching bones.

    Still onward—slower and more slow—
    Dogged nightly by a stealthy foe,
    Toward mountain passes chocked with snow.

    One sleeps, to dream of home and wife;
    He wakes, at call to midnight strife
    With tomahawk and scalping knife.


    Past perils, miseries untold,
    Past desert heat, past mountains cold,
    What waits them in the land of gold?

    Go, search a checkered history
    Of soon-got hoards, as soon to flee,
    Of princely wealth and poverty.

    Dark tales of crime, of murders fell,
    Of drunken brawl, of gambling hell—
    Good chroniclers have told them well.

    Go, search them all, through every line—
    Yet deign to read this tale of mine,
    Of the old trail of "Fortv-Nine."

  3. The Santa Fe Trail

    by Ed Blair. Written on the dedication of the marker on the Santa Fe Trail at Lone Elm, Johnson County, Kansas.

    Fifty years—'Twas a prairie then
    And the deer roamed wild and free;
    Fifty years—I see it again
    As it appeared to me.
    The old trail ran where the barn stands now,
    The trail was here long before the plow,
    And we drove ox teams with sometimes a cow,
    In the days that use to be.

    Fifty years—Yes I lived here then
    And a lively place 'twas too.
    Wagons for miles with their fearless men
    Coming and passing from view.
    On the wagon covers "Pike's Peak or bust!"
    Yes, the fever was high for the yellow dust
    Just a lot of grit and then their luck to trust,
    For those that won were few.

    Fifty years—'Twas a camping ground
    Where the trees now cast their shade,
    And the faithful oxen rambled around
    And rarely if ever strayed,
    And the camp fires burned each night of the year
    In the pastures there and the cornfields here,
    Yet I slept each night with never a fear,
    And many the friends I made.

    Yes, fifty years—What a striking change
    From the way we do things now,
    No less these farms from the boundless ran
    Or the way we sow and plow
    The sickle is gone and the binder's here,
    But the sickle still to my heart is dear,
    But I look in vain for the roving deer
    And the prairie chicken now.

    Fifty years—Ah, I love to know
    That the old trail shall remain,
    That the markers tell in the years to go
    Where the ox teams crossed the plain
    Of the men who travelled the toilsome way
    But few are left to tell it today,
    But their march was Progress on its way,
    And its glory ne'er shall wane.

  4. The Old Country Store

    by Ed Blair

    Oh, the old country store with the candy jars in it,
    And the bag of green coffee that sat by the door;
    The barrel of sorghum with plug driven in it,
    That leaked every hour a few drops on the floor.
    The barrel of crackers with cover beside it,
    The cheese, where a patron could pilfer a bite.
    The jugs and the jars with the straw in between them,
    When I was a boy 'twas a source of delight.

    Piled up on the counter, the "hickory shirting"—
    A stripe and a plaid for the patrons to choose.
    Some featherproof ticking, some ducking for "breeches,"
    Some calicos, ginghams, a few pairs of shoes,
    A barrel of kraut never spoiled in the making,
    How good it did taste when I tiptoed a wee,
    And the "gingersnap cookies" that came in the boxes,
    What a treat to have one of them given to me.

    The old country store, what a charm to the youngster
    The hogshead of sugar (sometimes mixed with sand),
    And if I was there when the "store man" was opening,
    A lump of its sweetness was placed in my hand.
    The coffee pots stood in a row on the shelving,
    The old iron boilers and tubs down below,
    A can of gunpowder and shot for the hunters
    And the "waterproof" caps that ofttimes wouldn't go.

    Oh, the old country store, what a joy there to visit
    With postoffice boxes, 'mong cobwebs galore,
    That gave us the letters and papers on Monday,
    That rode in the mails for a fortnight or more.
    Oh, never a city with street cars and bridges
    And viaducts, factories—yea, all of these,
    Can e'er beat the store at the cross roads on Cow creek
    Where first I bought candy and crackers and cheese.

  5. The Old Maps to Oregon

    by Thomas Hornsby Ferril

    Their maps, when they had maps, were charted well
    With names stretching two hundred miles or more,
    For timid wives to read the night before
    The latch-string on the front door slowly fell,
    Leaving them, just a moment, staring hard
    Against the door, as if a door could close
    Tighter the last time than the doors of those
    Who had no prairie wagons in the yard.

    Altho the scrawny legends overlapped
    The wilderness with bitter high deceit,
    Such wives at dusk could still smile when they came
    Within a smile or two of what was mapped,
    Dreaming of harbor, while thick oxen feet
    Drummed toward some empty place that had a name.

  6. Maid of the West-Land

    by Robert J. C. Stead

    Heart that is free as the open air,
    Eyes like the beams of the morn that rise
    Over our prairies, bright and fair,
    Brow like the silver of sunset skies,
    Cheeks with a beauty that glorifies,
    Tresses of sunlight, through and through,
    Figure and form that we idolize,
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Hope that is broad as your face is rare,
    Yearning that unto the uttermost cries,
    Soul that itself is a breath of prayer,
    Heaven-sent spirit in womanly guise;
    Tender caresses that minimize
    The labors of life with their pain and rue,
    Loving affection that never dies—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Courage that rises to do and dare,
    Spell that entangles the sage and wise
    From venturesome toe to your crown of hair
    Ravishing beauties that hypnotize;
    Many the man for your favor vies,
    Well may he plead for the favor, too;
    Twentieth Century's greatest prize—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Maid of the West, in your wistful eyes,
    Tenderly deep as the western blue,
    The glorious hope of our future lies—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

  7. Pioneers! O Pioneers!

    by Walt Whitman

    Come, my tan-faced children,
    Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
    Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged axes?
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    For we cannot tarry here,
    We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
    We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    O you youths, western youths,
    So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
    Plain I see you, western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Have the elder races halted?
    Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied, over there beyond the seas?
    We take up the task eternal, and the burden, and the lesson,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    All the past we leave behind;
    We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied world,
    Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    We detachments steady throwing,
    Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
    Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, as we go, the unknown ways,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    We primeval forests felling,
    We the rivers stemming, vexing we, and piercing deep the mines within;
    We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Colorado men are we,
    From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,
    From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
    Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental blood intervein’d;
    All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    O resistless, restless race!
    O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
    O I mourn and yet exult—I am rapt with love for all,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Raise the mighty mother mistress,
    Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress, (bend your heads all,)
    Raise the fang’d and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon’d mistress,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    See, my children, resolute children,
    By those swarms upon our rear, we must never yield or falter,
    Ages back in ghostly millions, frowning there behind us urging,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    On and on, the compact ranks,
    With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill’d,
    Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    O to die advancing on!
    Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
    Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill’d,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    All the pulses of the world,
    Falling in, they beat for us, with the western movement beat;
    Holding single or together, steady moving, to the front, all for us,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Life’s involv’d and varied pageants,
    All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
    All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    All the hapless silent lovers,
    All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
    All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    I too with my soul and body,
    We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
    Through these shores, amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Lo! the darting bowling orb!
    Lo! the brother orbs around! all the clustering suns and planets,
    All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    These are of us, they are with us,
    All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,
    We to-day’s procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    O you daughters of the west!
    O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
    Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Minstrels latent on the prairies!
    (Shrouded bards of other lands! you may sleep—you have done your work;)
    Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Not for delectations sweet;
    Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious;
    Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
    Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock’d and bolted doors?
    Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Has the night descended?
    Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged, nodding on our way?
    Yet a passing hour I yield you, in your tracks to pause oblivious,
    Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Till with sound of trumpet,
    Far, far off the day-break call—hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind;
    Swift! to the head of the army!—swift! spring to your places,
    Pioneers! O pioneers.

  8. The Pioneers

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Thy waves, proud OHIO, in majesty roll
    Through banks with rich verdure and flowers filly dressed,
    Like the strong tide of mind—like the bright flow of soul,
    That heaves nobly on to the fair, blooming WEST.

    Thy music is set to the motion of years,
    Like thee, bearing down to a fathomless flood;
    But ours, to the march of the bold PIONEERS,
    Who purchased thy borders with peril and blood.

    They fearless went forth where the red heathen foe
    With tomahawk raised, as in ambush he lay,
    And poison-tipped arrows to speed from his bow,
    Concealed like a serpent, infested the way.

    They saw the tall flame, when the council-fire glared
    Along the deep gloom through the wilderness spread.
    They heard the loud whoop, when the knife was prepared
    Its trophy to cleave from the white victim's head!

    The apple tree then, 'mid the trees of the wood,
    They reared among savages human and brute,
    And felled the dark forest around it that stood,
    To let in the sun-beams, and ripen the fruit.

    Their footsteps are traced by the lily and vine;
    Where they lopped the boughs, stands the full-headed sheaf,
    And here, from the pillow, the oil and the wine,
    The weary find rest, and the wounded, relief.

    Where all was in nature's first wildness and night,
    Till they ventured forth, an invincible band,
    The SUN of eternity pours down his light—
    The beauty of holiness spreads o'er the land!

    Roll on, proud OHIO! and long as the voice,
    That sounds from thy waters posterity hears,
    'T will come in bold numbers to hearts that rejoice,
    In chorus responding, 'The brave PIONEERS!'

  9. The Pioneers

    by Herbert Bates

    Pale in the east a filmy moon
    Creeps up the empty sky,
    And the pallid prairie rounds bleak below,
    And we wonder that we are here; and the thin winds sigh
    Through the broken stalks of the sunflowers that wait to die,
    And the sun is gone, and the darkness begins to grow,
    And out on the shadowy plains we hear the coyote's cry.

    Out of the dark of the prairie plains—
    What lurks in the darkened plains?
    It is there that the coyote howls,
    It is there that the Indian prowls,
    Sinewy-footed, alert,
    Watching to do us hurt;
    And the sombre buffalo
    Pace, ominous and slow,
    With their black beards trailing low
    Over the sifting snow.
    And we, we cower and shake,
    Lying all night awake,—
    We in our little sod-built hut in the heart of the plain.

    God guard us, and make vain
    The wiles of the Indian foe;
    God show us how to go,
    And lead us in again
    Out of the dread of the plain,
    Home to the mountains and hills that our childhood knew,
    Where over the sombre pine trees the sea shines blue.

  10. Westward Ho!

    by Joaquin Miller

    What strength! what strife! what rude unrest!
    What shocks! what half-shaped armies met!
    A mighty nation moving west,
    With all its steely sinews set
    Against the living forests. Hear
    The shouts, the shots of pioneer,
    The rended forests, rolling wheels,
    As if some half-check'd army reels,
    Recoils, redoubles, comes again,
    Loud sounding like a hurricane.

    O bearded, stalwart, westmost men,
    So tower-like, so Gothic built!
    A kingdom won without the guilt
    Of studied battle, that hath been
    Your blood's inheritance....Your heirs
    Know not your tombs: The great plowshares
    Cleave softly through the mellow loam
    Where you have made eternal home,
    And set no sign. Your epitaphs
    Are writ in furrows. Beauty laughs
    While through the green ways wandering
    Beside her love, slow gathering
    White starry-hearted May-time blooms
    Above your lowly level'd tombs;
    And then below the spotted sky
    She stops, she leans, she wonders why
    The ground is heaved and broken so,
    And why the grasses darker grow
    And droop and trail like wounded wing.

    Yea, Time, the grand old harvester,
    Has gather'd you from wood and plain.
    We call to you again, again;
    The rush and rumble of the car
    Comes back in answer. Deep and wide
    The wheels of progress have passed on;
    The silent pioneer is gone.
    His ghost is moving down the trees,
    And now we push the memories
    Of bluff, bold men who dared and died
    In foremost battle, quite aside.

  11. Westward

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    When eastern snows are melting and the south wind softly blows,
    The old hives swarm, and westward the Star of Empire goes.
    "Westward ho!" is ever the watchword of the spring;
    As sure as birds fly northward, is this a settled thing.

    'Tis heard again in autumn, when crops are gathered in—
    When the corn is in the barn and the wheat is in the bin.
    Westward, and ever westward, the long, white wagons creep,
    Through towns and open country, and forests dark and deep.

    Westward—women and children, bearded and stalwart men—
    From stern New England hillside, from wild and rocky glen;
    From steeps of the Alleghanies, where bleak winds fiercely blow;
    And down whose crags of granite roll storms of sleet and snow.

    Westward—from o'er the ocean a crowd comes pressing on,
    Russian, Norwegian, German—all bloods under the sun
    Here meet and mingle kindly. As all the world doth know,
    When other lands are full, hither rolls the overflow.

    Westward, and ever westward, the peaceful army comes—
    Workmen for better wages, the homeless seeking homes;
    Young men—life all before them, with all that life endears—
    And old men, faint and weary, with the bootless toil of years.

    Still they come, and still we greet them with the clasp of friendly hand;
    Still they flood and swell our cities, still they spread across the land;
    Westward, westward—led or followed by the headlight's ghostly gleam,
    While lonely wilds are startled by the engine's eerie scream.

    On bare, wide slopes the dug-out yields shelter safe and sure,
    And from its fireside altar floats incense sweet and pure.
    Beside the lowly door sits the grandsire old and gray,
    While round him, tanned and merry, the barefoot children play.

    The sod, upturned, wooes surely the sunshine and the rain;
    Anon the swells are golden with seas of waving grain.
    Where all was bare and barren, thick stand the clustered sheaves;
    Where all was bare and treeless, winds whisper through the leaves.

    Towns spring as by enchantment along the great frontier;
    Where the owl dwelt silent, solemn, with the prairie dog last year,
    Now stands the store and school house, and church with steeple white,
    In a city reared by magic, like the gourd that grew in a night.

  12. By Grandsire's Well

    by Albina Brockway Letts

    "Westward Ho!" was the cry throughout the land,
    And movers' wagons, as the seashore sands,
    On each road were seen all the weary day;
    And their canvas tops like the white-capped spray,
    Westward rolled with a strong sweep, far and wide,
    But never went back with the evening tide.
    And while Grandsire sat 'neath the deep, green shade
    Not far from the well, and the scene surveyed,
    His little grandson rolled on the grass,
    And watched the tired teams creeping past.
    "Human nature's a study," Grandsire said,
    As he softly nodded his hoary head;
    "It's curious enough, how that straws will show,
    As you've often heard, how the wind doth blow.
    And I learn a good deal more than you'd think,
    About the folks that come to the well for a drink."

    One wagon had halted; the team was lean;
    You could count their ribs and the spaces between;
    Three dogs followed close, some guns were in view,
    And fishing tackle in plenty, too.
    Some frowsy children "withstanding a drouth,"
    A frowsier mother, with pipe in her mouth,
    And a long, lank man sauntered up to the well,
    And nodded as his eye on Grandsire fell.
    He paused and balanced the pail on the curb
    While he answered Grandsire's greeting word:
    "Yes, we're goin' out west, where things will grow
    With half the work they do here, you know.
    And if game is plenty we'uns 'low we'll find
    A better place an' more to our mind.
    Did I hate to leave? Wal—no, I can't say
    That I fretted much 'bout comin' away,
    For the land was foul or worn out, far an' near,
    An' the weeds tuk our melons every year,
    An' the neighbors never wuz much to my mind—
    When we fust went thar they 'peared sorter kind,
    But they didn't care much fur us arter while
    When they foun' we wuz pore'n couldn't put on style.
    Pore folks back thar don't have no show,
    An' they never come near 'less someone wuz low.
    Their stock broke into my 'taters an' corn—
    Mine never teched their'n sure's you're born.
    (To be sure, their fences wuz better'n mine,
    An' they built most of th' division line);
    They wouldn't go coonin' and didn't care shucks
    Fur fishin', or huntin' fur rabbits an' ducks;
    But we hope we'll find neighbors as good as the best
    When we onct git settled out thar in the west."

    "Nay, nay!" said Grandsire, "believe me, you'll see
    That folks are alike wherever they be;
    Selfish folks are plenty, and now, you mind,
    Your neighbors will always be of that kind."

    "Wal, that's 'bout my luck, but I'll be goin' along:
    Shuah, all o' them dogs to me b'long,
    Aax a fust-rate rifle an' a shot-gun too,
    An' a fiddle to chirk us up when we're blue—
    Yes, my bosses air powerful weak, an' one's lame—
    Hope they tell us the truth 'bout western game;
    When we git out into the huntin' groun'
    We'll let 'em rest while we look aroun',
    An' if the folks air lively an' full of fun,
    I'll have good times yet, 'fore my day is done."

    Grandsire pondered, and leaned on his stick
    Till another team drew up for a drink.
    The clean, bright children and a cow tied behind,
    Proved them movers of quite a dififerent kind.
    A strong, honest-faced man came up the walk
    With a cheery "Good morning," and paused for a talk,
    While the stout team drank and cooled in the shade,
    And the children stretched their limbs and played;
    While a clean, rosy woman her needles plied,
    As she watched the children by the wagon's side.

    Said Grandsire: "And why do you go out west?
    Do you think that country so much the best?"
    "Well, they say the land is cheap and rich,
    With no grubbin' of stumps or diggin' o' ditch;
    That there's a good chance for a poor man there,
    And I'm willin' to work like a man for my share;
    For we want to give the children a better show
    Than we've ever had in the world, you know."

    "Did you hate to leave the old home, my man?"
    As Grandsire spoke, o'er the face of tan
    A tremor fell; and a deep flush shone,
    And his lip half quivered, then a sigh, half groan,
    Came forth, as he nodded: "Indeed I did.
    For I'd lived there all my life," he said;
    "Yes, there were lots of things we hated to leave.
    And some for which we will always grieve;
    The bearing orchard, the brook by the road,
    The smell of the meadow newly mowed,
    The buryin' ground where father was laid
    Close by where the baby's grave was made;
    The poor old dog that we couldn't bring,
    And e'en the old dipper down by the spring;
    Most of all, the neighbors, young and old,
    The best in the world, just as good as gold.
    Before we left them last Thursday night,
    They held prayer-meetin' at early candle-light;
    And when they sang, 'Blest Be the Tie,'
    Scarcely an eye in the house was dry;
    And when they closed with 'My Christian friends,
    In bonds of love,' until it ends
    In, 'We must take the parting hand,'
    My poor weak knees would hardly stand,
    And I dropped down, and bending o'er,
    My tears went splashin' on the floor.
    They came in the morning we started away,
    And when Deacon Bicknell knelt down to pray,
    The Lord to preserve us in that strange land,
    And hold us in the hollow of His hand,
    We thought we'd rather live there on a stone,
    Than go out to Paradise all alone.
    They brought us fried chicken to eat on the road.
    And beech-nuts and chestnuts to add to the load,
    And doughnuts and pickles and cranberry sass,
    And a great big sack of sassafras,
    And cookies that were spiced with caraway seed,
    And everything that movers could need;
    And things we couldn't use, or save,
    That we buried at night in the turnip cave.
    No wonder, you see, I hated to leave,
    For we never again will such neighbors have."

    "Oh, yes! You'll have neighbors as good as can be,
    And perhaps the old friends may sometime see,
    You'll just such good Christians be sure to find.
    Best of all, you didn't leave the Lord behind!"

    No one could the gladsome truth withstand,
    And as Grandsire held out his trembling hand,
    The poor man took it in both his own,
    While a strong thrill of courage came into his tone.
    "Bless your heart ! That's true. Why, you do me good;
    Tm afraid it's wicked, this sorrowful mood,
    But I felt like a tree pulled out of the ground
    With the roots all danglin' and limp around,
    So I drank after the horses every day,
    For they say you can cure home-sick, that way;
    But I reckon I never have, 'til now,
    Quit lookin' back with my hand on the plow.
    Good-bye ! I'll be glad at the end of the route,
    To find them good neighbors you're talkin' about;
    We'll have a prayer-meeting and Sunday-school, too,
    And no doubt find work for the Lord to do."

    The little boy crept to his Grandsire's knee,
    With eyes just as big as eyes could be;
    "Oh, Gran'ther! I listened as still as the mice,
    But you didn't say the same thing twice!"
    And an awesome look in the sweet face grew.
    For he couldn't see how both sayings were true:
    And truth's foundations w^ere sorely assailed,
    If Gran'ther's word one tittle had failed.
    Grandsire held his hand, looked into his eyes
    With clear, true gaze which no fraud could disguise,
    And said: "It was all true, as I surely do know;
    The first man was selfish and shiftless and low,
    And the Good Book says, 'If a man would have friends
    He must show himself friendly;' the Lord never sends
    Good neighbors, or blessings, unless we can bear
    Of kindness and labor an honest share.
    The man who idles with dogs and guns,
    Will be poor while grass grows and water runs;
    But the other man was the salt of the earth;'
    He'll have a sweet home and a clean, bright hearth,
    And friends will flock to its warmth and cheer,
    And love him still more, as year by year
    He toils, and willingly takes a share
    In the world's great burdens of labor and care;
    He will share men's troubles and lighten their load,
    By his Christian kindness along the road,
    And though he will never be rich or grand,
    He'll wield a man's power on every hand;
    And he'll pity the sinner and teach God's word
    And walk all his days in the ways of the Lord."

    A light sweet as dreams of love in youth,
    In the child's face grew as he saw the truth;
    And glad and clear rang the voice of the lad:
    "I'll have just such neighbors as that good man had!"

  13. The Westerner

    by Charles Badger Clark

    My fathers sleep on the sunrise plains,
    And each one sleeps alone.
    Their trails may dim to the grass and rains,
    For I choose to make my own.
    I lay proud claim to their blood and name,
    But I lean on no dead kin;
    My name is mine, for the praise or scorn,
    And the world began when I was born
    And the world is mine to win.

    They built high towns on their old log sills,
    Where the great, slow rivers gleamed,
    But with new, live rock from the savage hills
    I'll build as they only dreamed.
    The smoke scarce dies where the trail camp lies,
    Till the rails glint down the pass;
    The desert springs into fruit and wheat
    And I lay the stones of a solid street
    Over yesterday's untrod grass.

    I waste no thought on my neighbor's birth
    Or the way he makes his prayer.
    I grant him a white man's room on earth
    If his game is only square.
    While he plays it straight I'll call him mate;
    If he cheats I drop him flat.
    Old class and rank are a wornout lie,
    For all clean men are as good as I,
    And a king is only that.

    I dream no dreams of a nurse-maid state
    That will spoon me out my food.
    A stout heart sings in the fray with fate
    And the shock and sweat are good.
    From noon to noon all the earthly boon
    That I ask my God to spare
    Is a little daily bread in store,
    With the room to fight the strong for more,
    And the weak shall get their share.

    The sunrise plains are a tender haze
    And the sunset seas are gray,
    But I stand here, where the bright skies blaze
    Over me and the big today.
    What good to me is a vague "may be"
    Or a mournful "might have been,"
    For the sun wheels swift from morn to morn
    And the world began when I was born
    And the world is mine to win.

  14. The Prairie Schooner

    by Charles Moreau Harger

    Slow was the weary, toilsome way
    Where creaked the heavy wain,—
    Quaint follower of the speeding day
    Across the plain.

    White canvas covers, bulging, fair,
    Enclosed fond hearts athrob with joy;
    The builders of an empire there
    Found safe convoy.

    Along its course child-voices sweet
    Marked all the strangeness of each scene;
    While parents sought new homes to greet
    With vision keen.

    No luxury or ease was there
    To lap the traveler into rest,
    But staunch it bore the pioneer
    On toward the West.

    Deserted now, its ragged sails
    Are furled—the port has long been won.
    Sport of the boisterous, hurrying gales,
    Through cloud and sun.

    Unused, forlorn, and gray, it stands,
    A faded wreck cast far ashore,
    The Mayflower of the prairie lands,
    Its journey o'er.

  15. The "Prairie Schooner"

    by Evander A. Crewson

    Through our town one April afternoon,
    A "prairie schooner" wound its western way;
    The driver humming to himself a tune,
    The children playing on a pile of hay.

    The mother, "chillin'," in a blanket wrapped,
    Slowly fed as fuel, insidious disease;
    While the curtains cracked and napped
    In the cool south-western breeze.

    Behind, two yellow dogs, lank and lean,
    Dodged the urchins' sticks and stones;
    Or along some alley might be seen
    Hunting for stray crumbs and bones.

    The horses' looks, in silence plead for corn,
    But weary plod along with fading hope;
    Behind, a brindle cow with broken horn
    Slowly followed up a piece of rope.

    I watched them slowly wind the hill,
    And away as far as I could see;
    With no ambition, and scarce no will,
    I wondered what the end would be.

    That scene in my memory seemed to freeze.
    Though years have rolled by one by one,
    I see those curtains flapping in the breeze,
    Slowly wending towards the setting sun.

  16. The Prairie-Schooner

    Carl Holliday

    All day the creeping caravan
    Wound on its serpent-trailing way;
    A thousand miles of wind-swept tan,
    A thousand miles of cloudless gray.

    Beneath the quivering summer-heat
    The prairie-schooner creaked afar;
    Some day, some time, the trail would meet
    The Setting Sun, the Golden Bar.

    The course is done; the servant old
    Long stood in shivering rags, and gazed
    Upon the mansions built of gold;
    All wondering, by their splendor dazed.

    The course is done; yet on and on
    Beyond Time's wavering shadow-line
    The prairie-schooner long has gone,
    Forsaken, lost, with ne'er a shrine.

  17. Crossing the Plains

    by Joaquin Miller

    What great yoked brutes with briskets low,
    With wrinkled necks like buffalo,
    With round, brown, liquid, pleading eyes,
    That turn'd so slow and sad to you,
    That shone like love's eyes soft with tears,
    That seem'd to plead, and make replies,
    The while they bow'd their necks and drew
    The creaking load; and look'd at you.
    Their sable briskets swept the ground,
    Their cloven feet kept solemn sound.

    Two sullen bullocks led the line,
    Their great eyes shining bright like wine;
    Two sullen captive kings were they,
    That had in time held herds at bay,
    And even now they crush'd the sod
    With stolid sense of majesty,
    And stately stepp'd and stately trod,
    As if 'twere something still to be
    Kings even in captivity.

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