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Title: Sun and Saddle Leather - Including Grass Grown Trails and New Poems
Author: Clark, Badger
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sun and Saddle Leather - Including Grass Grown Trails and New Poems" ***

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[Illustration: "_When the last free trail is a prim, fenced lane_
                 _And our graves grow weeds through forgetful Mays,_
               _Richer and statelier then you'll reign,_
                 _Mother of men whom the world will praise._
               _And your sons will love you and sigh for you,_
               _Labor and battle and die for you,_
                 _But never the fondest will understand_
                 _The way we have loved you, young, young land._"]



Illustrations from Photographs by L. A. HUFFMAN




Copyright, 1915, 1917 and 1919 by Badger Clark

All Rights Reserved


The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.

TO MY FATHER, _who, in his long life, has seldom been conscious
of a man's rough exterior, or unconscious of his obscurest virtue._


Cowboys are the sternest critics of those who would represent the West.
No hypocrisy, no bluff, no pose can evade them.

Yet cowboys have made Badger Clark's songs their own. So readily have
they circulated that often the man who sings the song could not tell
you where it started. Many of the poems have become folk songs of the
West, we may say of America, for they speak of freedom and the open.

Generous has been the praise given _Sun and Saddle Leather_, but
perhaps no criticism has summed up the work so satisfactorily as the
comment of the old cow man who said, "You can break me if there's a
dead poem in the book, I read the hull of it. Who in H---- is this kid
Clark, anyway? I don't know how he knowed, but he _knows_."

That is what proves Badger Clark the real poet. He knows. Beyond his
wonderful presentation of the West is the quality of universal appeal
that makes his work real art. He has tied the West to the universe.

The old cow man is not the only one who has wondered who Badger Clark
was. Charles Wharton Stork speaking of _Sun and Saddle Leather_, said,
"It has splendid flavor and fine artistic handling as well. I should
like to know more of the author, whether he was a cow puncher or merely
got inside his psychology by imagination."

Badger Clark was brought up in the West. As a boy he lived in Deadwood,
South Dakota. The town at that time was trying to live down the
reputation for exuberant indecorum which she had acquired during the
gold rush; but her five churches operating two hours a week could make
little headway against the competition of two dance halls and
twenty-six saloons running twenty-four hours a day.

Perhaps it was these early impressions that make _The Piano at Red's_
in Mr. Clark's later volume _Grass Grown Trails_ so vivid.

  Scuffling feet and thud of fists,
    Curses hot as fire--
  Still the music sang of love,
    Longin', lost desire,
  Dreams that never could have been
    Joys that couldn't stay--
  While the man upon the floor
    Wiped the blood away.

After Clark had grown up, in the cow country near the Mexican border,
he stumbled unexpectedly into paradise. He was given charge of a small
ranch and the responsibility for a bunch of cattle just large enough to
amuse him, but too small to demand a full day's work once a month. The
sky was persistently blue, the sunlight was richly golden, the folds of
the barren mountains and the wide reaches of the range were full of many
lovely colors, and his nearest neighbor was eight miles away.

The cow men who dropped in for a meal now and then in the course of
their interminable riding appeared to have ridden directly out of books
of adventure, with old-young faces full of sun wrinkles, careless
mouths full of bad grammar, strange oaths and stranger yarns, and
hearts for the most part as open and shadowless as the country they
daily ranged.

In the evenings as Clark placed his boot heels on the porch railing,
smote the strings of his guitar and broke the tense silence of the
warm, dry twilight with song, he often wondered, as his eyes rested
dreamily on the spikey yuccas that stood out sharp and black against
the clear lemon color of the sunset west, why hermit life in the desert
was traditionally a sad, penitential affair.

In a letter to his mother a month or two after settling in Arizona he
found prose too weak to express his utter content and perpetrated his
first verses. She, with natural pride, sent the verses to a magazine,
the old _Pacific Monthly_, and a week or two later the desert dweller
was astonished beyond measure to receive his first editorial check.
The  discovery that certain people in the world were willing to pay
money for such rhymes as he could write bent the whole course of his
subsequent life, for good or evil, and the occasional lyric impulse
hardened into a habit which has consumed much of his time and most of
his serious thought since that date. The verses written to his mother
were _Ridin'_, the first poem in his first book, _Sun and Saddle
Leather_, and the greater part of the poems in both _Sun and Saddle
Leather_ and _Grass Grown Trails_ were written in Arizona.

_Sun and Saddle Leather_ and _Grass Grown Trails_ are books of Western
songs, simple and ringing and yet with an ample vision that makes them
unique among poems written in a local vernacular. The spirit of them
is eternal, the spirit of youth in the open, and their background is
"God's Reserves," the vast reach of Western mesa and plain that will
always remain free--"the way that it was when the world was new."

Every poem carries a breath of plains, wind-flavored with a tang of
camp smoke; and, varied as they are in tune and tone, they do not
contain a single note that is labored or unnatural. They are of native
Western stock, as indigenous to the soil as the agile cow ponies whose
hoofs evidently beat the time for their swinging measures; and it is
this quality, as well as their appealing music, that has already given
them such wide popularity, East and West.

That they were born in the saddle and written for love rather than for
publication is a conviction that the reader of them can hardly escape.
From the impish merriment of _From Town_ to the deep but fearless piety
of _The Cowboy's Prayer_, these songs ring true; and are as healthy as
the big, bright country whence they came.

In 1917, about the time our first edition of _Sun and Saddle Leather_
began to run low, we fortunately discovered L. A. Huffman, of Miles
City, Montana, the illustrator who in 1878 began taking photographs
from the saddle with crude cameras he made over to meet his needs.
These same views were the first of the now famous "Huffman Pictures,"
beginning with the Indians and buffaloes round about Ft. Keogh on the
Yellowstone where he was post photographer for General Miles' army
during those stirring territorial days. The Huffman Studio is still one
of the show places of Miles City, and the sales headquarters also for
Montana and adjacent states for both of Mr. Clark's books, _Sun and
Saddle Leather_ and _Grass Grown Trails_. In a recent letter Mr. Huffman
says, "I have just come back from a trip to 'Powder River' and along the
Wyoming-Montana border. It's all too true! Clark saw and wrote it none
too soon in _The Passing of the Trail_."

  The trail's a lane, the trail's a lane.
  Dead is the branding fire.
  The prairies wild are tame and mild
  All close-corralled with wire.
  The sunburnt demigods who ranged
  And laughed and loved so free
  Have topped the last divide, or changed
  To men like you and me.



  Ridin'                                                                13
  The Song of the Leather                                               16
  A Bad Half Hour                                                       19
  From Town                                                             22
  A Cowboy's Prayer                                                     26
  The Christmas Trail                                                   29
  A Border Affair                                                       33
  The Bunk-House Orchestra                                              36
  The Outlaw                                                            40
  The Legend of Boastful Bill                                           43
  The Tied Maverick                                                     48
  A Roundup Lullaby                                                     51
  The Trail o' Love                                                     55
  Bachin'                                                               58
  The Glory Trail                                                       61
  Bacon                                                                 65
  The Lost Pardner                                                      67
  God's Reserves                                                        70
  The Married Man                                                       74
  The Old Cow Man                                                       78
  The Plainsmen                                                         82
  The Westerner                                                         86
  The Wind is Blowin'                                                   89
  On Boot Hill                                                          91


  _When the last free trail is a prim, fenced lane_
    _And our graves grow weeds through forgetful Mays,_
  _Richer and statelier then you'll reign,_
  _Mother of men whom the world will praise._
  _And your sons will love you and sigh for you,_
  _Labor and battle and die for you,_
    _But never the fondest will understand_
    _The way we have loved you, young, young land._      --_Frontispiece._


  _When my feet is in the stirrups_
    _And my hawse is on the bust._                                      14

  _There's a time to be slow and a time to be quick._                   18

  _We have gathered fightin' pointers from the famous bronco steed._    24

  _The taut ropes sing like a banjo string_
    _And the latigoes creak and strain._                                40

  _I wait to hear him ridin' up behind._                                68

  _There's land where yet no ditchers dig_
    _Nor cranks experiment;_
  _It's only lovely, free and big_
    _And isn't worth a cent._                                           80

  _Born of a free, world-wandering race_
    _Little we yearned o'er an oft-turned sod._                         82



  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'._

[Illustration: "_When my feet is in the stirrups
                 And my hawse is on the bust._"]


  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:

    _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:

      _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._"

[Illustration: "_There's a time to be slow and a time to be quick._"]


  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.


  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!

[Illustration: "_We have gathered fightin' pointers from the famous
bronco steed._"]


(_Written for Mother_)

  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.


  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.


  Spanish is the lovin' tongue,
    Soft as music, light as spray.
  'Twas a girl I learnt it from,
    Livin' down Sonora way.
  I don't look much like a lover,
  Yet I say her love words over
    Often when I'm all alone--
    "Mi amor, mi corazon."

  Nights when she knew where I'd ride
    She would listen for my spurs,
  Fling the big door open wide,
    Raise them laughin' eyes of hers
  And my heart would nigh stop beatin'
  When I heard her tender greetin',
    Whispered soft for me alone--
    "Mi amor! mi corazon!"

  Moonlight in the patio,
    Old Señora noddin' near,
  Me and Juana talkin' low
    So the Madre couldn't hear--
  How those hours would go a-flyin'!
  And too soon I'd hear her sighin'
    In her little sorry tone--
    "Adios, mi corazon!"

  But one time I had to fly
    For a foolish gamblin' fight,
  And we said a swift goodbye
    In that black, unlucky night.
  When I'd loosed her arms from clingin'
  With her words the hoofs kep' ringin'
    As I galloped north alone--
    "Adios, mi corazon!"

  Never seen her since that night.
    I kaint cross the Line, you know.
  She was Mex and I was white;
    Like as not it's better so.
  Yet I've always sort of missed her
  Since that last wild night I kissed her,
    Left her heart and lost my own--
    "Adios, mi corazon!"


  Wrangle up your mouth-harps, drag your banjo out,
  Tune your old guitarra till she twangs right stout,
  For the snow is on the mountains and the wind is on the plain,
  But we'll cut the chimney's moanin' with a livelier refrain.

    _Shinin' 'dobe fireplace, shadows on the wall--_
    _(See old Shorty's friv'lous toes a-twitchin' at the call:)_
    _It's the best grand high that there is within the law_
    _When seven jolly punchers tackle "Turkey in the Straw."_

  Freezy was the day's ride, lengthy was the trail,
  Ev'ry steer was haughty with a high arched tail,
  But we held 'em and we shoved 'em, for our longin' hearts were tried
  By a yearnin' for tobacker and our dear fireside.

    _Swing 'er into stop-time, don't you let 'er droop!_
    _(You're about as tuneful as a coyote with the croup!)_
    _Ay, the cold wind bit when we drifted down the draw,_
    _But we drifted on to comfort and to "Turkey in the Straw."_

  Snarlin' when the rain whipped, cussin' at the ford--
  Ev'ry mile of twenty was a long discord,
  But the night is brimmin' music and its glory is complete
  When the eye is razzle-dazzled by the flip o' Shorty's feet!

    _Snappy for the dance, now, fill she up and shoots!_
    _(Don't he beat the devil's wife for jiggin' in 'is boots?)_
    _Shorty got throwed high and we laughed till he was raw,_
    _But tonight he's done forgot it prancin' "Turkey in the Straw."_

  Rainy dark or firelight, bacon rind or pie,
  Livin' is a luxury that don't come high;
  Oh, be happy and onruly while our years and luck allow,
  For we all must die or marry less than forty years from now!

    _Lively on the last turn! lope 'er to the death!_
    _(Reddy's soul is willin' but he's gettin' short o' breath.)_
    _Ay, the storm wind sings and old trouble sucks his paw_
    _When we have an hour of firelight set to "Turkey in the Straw!"_


  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._

[Illustration: "_The taut ropes sing like a banjo string_
                 _And the latigoes creak and strain._"]


  At a roundup on the Gily,
    One sweet mornin' long ago,
  Ten of us was throwed right freely
    By a hawse from Idaho.
  And we thought he'd go-a-beggin'
    For a man to break his pride
  Till, a-hitchin' up one leggin,
    Boastful Bill cut loose and cried--

    "_I'm a on'ry proposition for to hurt;_
    _I fulfil my earthly mission with a quirt;_
      _I kin ride the highest liver_
      _'Tween the Gulf and Powder River,_
    _And I'll break this thing as easy as I'd flirt._"

  So Bill climbed the Northern Fury
    And they mangled up the air
  Till a native of Missouri
    Would have owned his brag was fair.
  Though the plunges kep' him reelin'
    And the wind it flapped his shirt,
  Loud above the hawse's squealin'
    We could hear our friend assert

    "_I'm the one to take such rakin's as a joke._
    _Some one hand me up the makin's of a smoke!_
      _If you think my fame needs bright'nin'_
      _W'y, I'll rope a streak of lightnin'_
    _And I'll cinch 'im up and spur 'im till he's broke._"

  Then one caper of repulsion
    Broke that hawse's back in two.
  Cinches snapped in the convulsion;
    Skyward man and saddle flew.
  Up he mounted, never laggin',
    While we watched him through our tears,
  And his last thin bit of braggin'
      Came a-droppin' to our ears.

    "_If you'd ever watched my habits very close_
    _You would know I've broke such rabbits by the gross._
      _I have kep' my talent hidin';_
      _I'm too good for earthly ridin'_
    _And I'm off to bust the lightnin's,--Adios!_"

  Years have gone since that ascension.
    Boastful Bill ain't never lit,
  So we reckon that he's wrenchin'
    Some celestial outlaw's bit.
  When the night rain beats our slickers
    And the wind is swift and stout
  And the lightnin' flares and flickers,
    We kin sometimes hear him shout--

    "_I'm a bronco-twistin' wonder on the fly;_
    _I'm the ridin' son-of-thunder of the sky._
      _Hi! you earthlin's, shut your winders_
      _While we're rippin' clouds to flinders._
    _If this blue-eyed darlin' kicks at you, you die!_"

  Stardust on his chaps and saddle,
    Scornful still of jar and jolt,
  He'll come back some day, astraddle
    Of a bald-faced thunderbolt.
  And the thin-skinned generation
    Of that dim and distant day
  Sure will stare with admiration
    When they hear old Boastful say--

    "_I was first, as old rawhiders all confessed._
    _Now I'm last of all rough riders, and the best._
      _Huh! you soft and dainty floaters,_
      _With your a'roplanes and motors--_
    _Huh! are you the great grandchildren of the West!_"


  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!


  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'._


  My love was swift and slender
    As an antelope at play,
  And her eyes were gray and tender
    As the east at break o' day,
  And I sure was shaky hearted
    And her flower face was pale
  On that silver night we parted,
    When I sang along the trail:

      _Oh, moon above the pine,_
    _Like the matin' birds in Springtime,_
      _I will twitter while you shine._
    _Rich as ore with gold a-glowin',_
    _Sweet as sparklin' springs a-flowin',_
    _Strong as redwoods ever growin',_
      _So will be this love o' mine._

  I rode across the river
    And beyond the far divide,
  Till the echo of "forever"
    Staggered faint behind and died.
  For the long trail smiled and beckoned
    And the free wind blowed so sweet,
  That life's gayest tune, I reckoned,
    Was my hawse's ringin' feet.

      _Oh, stars, look down and sigh,_
    _For a poison spring will sparkle_
      _And the trustin' drinker die._
    _And a rovin' bird will twitter_
    _And a worthless rock will glitter_
    _And the maiden's love is bitter_
      _When the man's is proved a lie._

  Last the rover's circle guidin'
    Brought me where I used to be,
  And I met her, gaily ridin'
    With a smarter man than me.
  Then I raised my dusty cover
    But she didn't see nor hear,
  So I hummed the old tune over,
    Laughin' in my hawse's ear:

    _If the snowflake specks the desert_
      _Or the yucca blooms awhile._
    _Ay! what gloom the mountain covers_
    _Where the driftin' cloud shade hovers!_
    _Ay! the trail o' parted lovers,_
      _Where "forever" lasts a mile!_


  Our lives are hid; our trails are strange;
    We're scattered through the West
  In canyon cool, on blistered range
    Or windy mountain crest.
  Wherever Nature drops her ears
    And bares her claws to scratch,
  From Yuma to the north frontiers,
    You'll likely find the bach',
        You will,
    The shy and sober bach'!

  Our days are sun and storm and mist,
    The same as any life,
  Except that in our trouble list
    We never count a wife.
  Each has a reason why he's lone,
    But keeps it 'neath his hat;
  Or, if he's got to tell some one,
    Confides it to his cat,
        He does,
    Just tells it to his cat.

  We're young or old or slow or fast,
    But all plumb versatyle.
  The mighty bach' that fires the blast
    Kin serve up beans in style.
  The bach' that ropes the plungin' cows
    Kin mix the biscuits true--
  We earn our grub by drippin' brows
    And cook it by 'em too,
        We do,
    We cook it by 'em too.

  We like to breathe unbranded air,
    Be free of foot and mind,
  And go or stay, or sing or swear,
    Whichever we're inclined.
  An appetite, a conscience clear,
    A pipe that's rich and old
  Are loves that always bless and cheer
    And never cry nor scold,
        They don't.
    They never cry nor scold.

  Old Adam bached some ages back
    And smoked his pipe so free,
  A-loafin' in a palm-leaf shack
    Beneath a mango tree.
  He'd best have stuck to bachin' ways,
    And scripture proves the same,
  For Adam's only happy days
    Was 'fore the woman came,
        They was,
    All 'fore the woman came.


  'Way high up the Mogollons,
    Among the mountain tops,
  A lion cleaned a yearlin's bones
    And licked his thankful chops,
  When on the picture who should ride,
    A-trippin' down a slope,
  But High-Chin Bob, with sinful pride
    And mav'rick-hungry rope.

    "_Oh, glory be to me," says he,_
      "_And fame's unfadin' flowers!_
    _All meddlin' hands are far away;_
    _I ride my good top-hawse today_
    _And I'm top-rope of the Lazy J----_
      _Hi! kitty cat, you're ours!_"

  That lion licked his paw so brown
    And dreamed soft dreams of veal--
  And then the circlin' loop sung down
    And roped him 'round his meal.
  He yowled quick fury to the world
    Till all the hills yelled back;
  The top-hawse gave a snort and whirled
    And Bob caught up the slack.

    "_Oh, glory be to me," laughs he._
      "_We hit the glory trail._
    _No human man as I have read_
    _Darst loop a ragin' lion's head,_
    _Nor ever hawse could drag one dead_
      _Until we told the tale._"

  'Way high up the Mogollons
    That top-hawse done his best,
  Through whippin' brush and rattlin' stones,
    From canyon-floor to crest.
  But ever when Bob turned and hoped
    A limp remains to find,
  A red-eyed lion, belly roped
    But healthy, loped behind.

    "_Oh, glory be to me" grunts he._
      "_This glory trail is rough,_
    _Yet even till the Judgment Morn_
    _I'll keep this dally 'round the horn,_
    _For never any hero born_
      _Could stoop to holler: Nuff!_'"

  Three suns had rode their circle home
    Beyond the desert's rim,
  And turned their star-herds loose to roam
    The ranges high and dim;
  Yet up and down and 'round and 'cross
    Bob pounded, weak and wan,
  For pride still glued him to his hawse
    And glory drove him on.

    "_Oh, glory be to me," sighs he._
      "_He kaint be drug to death,_
    _But now I know beyond a doubt_
    _Them heroes I have read about_
    _Was only fools that stuck it out_
      _To end of mortal breath._"

  'Way high up the Mogollons
    A prospect man did swear
  That moon dreams melted down his bones
    And hoisted up his hair:
  A ribby cow-hawse thundered by,
    A lion trailed along,
  A rider, ga'nt but chin on high,
    Yelled out a crazy song.

    "_Oh, glory be to me!" cries he,_
      "_And to my noble noose!_
    _Oh, stranger, tell my pards below_
    _I took a rampin' dream in tow,_
    _And if I never lay him low,_
      _I'll never turn him loose!_"


  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!


  I ride alone and hate the boys I meet.
    Today, some way, their laughin' hurts me so.
  I hate the mockin'-birds in the mesquite--
    And yet I liked 'em just a week ago.
  I hate the steady sun that glares, and glares!
    The bird songs make me sore.
  I seem the only thing on earth that cares
    'Cause Al ain't here no more!

  'Twas just a stumblin' hawse, a tangled spur--
    And, when I raised him up so limp and weak,
  One look before his eyes begun to blur
    And then--the blood that wouldn't let 'im speak!
  And him so strong, and yet so quick he died,
    And after year on year
  When we had always trailed it side by side,
    He went--and left me here!

  We loved each other in the way men do
    And never spoke about it, Al and me,
  But we both _knowed_, and knowin' it so true
    Was more than any woman's kiss could be.
  We knowed--and if the way was smooth or rough,
    The weather shine or pour,
  While I had him the rest seemed good enough--
    But he ain't here no more!

  What is there out beyond the last divide?
    Seems like that country must be cold and dim.
  He'd miss this sunny range he used to ride,
    And he'd miss me, the same as I do him.
  It's no use thinkin'--all I'd think or say
    Could never make it clear.
  Out that dim trail that only leads one way
    He's gone--and left me here!

  The range is empty and the trails are blind,
    And I don't seem but half myself today.
  I wait to hear him ridin' up behind
    And feel his knee rub mine the good old way.
  He's dead--and what that means no man kin tell.
      Some call it "gone before."
  Where? I don't know, but God! I know so well
    That he ain't here no more!

[Illustration: "_I wait to hear him ridin' up behind._"]


  One time, 'way back where the year marks fade,
    God said: "I see I must lose my West,
  The prettiest part of the world I made,
    The place where I've always come to rest,
  For the White Man grows till he fights for bread
  And he begs and prays for a chance to spread.

  "Yet I won't give all of my last retreat;
    I'll help him to fight his long trail through,
  But I'll keep some land from his field and street
    The way that it was when the world was new.
  He'll cry for it all, for that's his way,
  And yet he may understand some day."

  And so, from the painted Bad Lands, 'way
    To the sun-beat home of the 'Pache kin,
  God stripped some places to sand and clay
    And dried up the beds where the streams had been.
  He marked His reserves with these plain signs
  And stationed His rangers to guard the lines.

  Then the White Man came, as the East growed old,
    And blazed his trail with the wreck of war.
  He riled the rivers to hunt for gold
    And found the stuff he was lookin' for;
  Then he trampled the Injun trails to ruts
  And gashed through the hills with railroad cuts.

  He flung out his barb-wire fences wide
    And plowed up the ground where the grass was high.
  He stripped off the trees from the mountain side
    And ground out his ore where the streams run by,
  Till last came the cities, with smoke and roar,
  And the White Man was feelin' at home once more.

  But Barrenness, Loneliness, suchlike things
    That gall and grate on the White Man's nerves,
  Was the rangers that camped by the bitter springs
    And guarded the lines of God's reserves.
  So the folks all shy from the desert land,
  'Cept mebbe a few that kin understand.

  There the world's the same as the day 'twas new,
    With the land as clean as the smokeless sky
  And never a noise as the years have flew,
    But the sound of the warm wind driftin' by;
  And there, alone, with the man's world far,
  There's a chance to think who you really are.

  And over the reach of the desert bare,
    When the sun drops low and the day wind stills,
  Sometimes you kin almost see Him there,
    As He sits alone on the blue-gray hills,
  A-thinkin' of things that's beyond our ken
  And restin' Himself from the noise of men.


  There's an old pard of mine that sits by his door
    And watches the evenin' skies.
  He's sat there a thousand of evenin's before
    And I reckon he will till he dies.
  El pobre! I reckon he will till he dies,
    And hear through the dim, quiet air
  Far cattle that call and the crickets that cheep
  And his woman a-singin' a kid to sleep
    And the creak of her rockabye chair.

  Once we made camp where the last light would fail
    And the east wasn't white till we'd start,
  But now he is deaf to the call of the trail
    And the song of the restless heart.
  El pobre! the song of the restless heart
    That you hear in the wind from the dawn!
  He's left it, with all the good, free-footed things,
  For a slow little song that a tired woman sings
    And a smoke when his dry day is gone.

  I've rode in and told him of lands that were strange,
    Where I'd drifted from glory to dread.
  He'd tell me the news of his little old range
    And the cute things his kids had said!
  El pobre! the cute things his kids had said!
    And the way six-year Billy could ride!
  And the dark would creep in from the gray chaparral
  And the woman would hum, while I pitied my pal
    And thought of him like he had died.

  He rides in old circles and looks at old sights
    And his life is as flat as a pond.
  He loves the old skyline he watches of nights
    And he don't seem to care for beyond.
  El pobre! he don't seem to dream of beyond,
    Nor the room he could find, there, for joy.
  "Ain't you ever oneasy?" says I one day.
  But he only just smiled in a pityin' way
    While he braided a quirt for his boy.

  He preaches that I orter fold up my wings
    And that even wild geese find a nest.
  That "woman" and "wimmen" are different things
    And a saddle nap isn't a rest.
  El pobre! he's more for the shade and the rest
    And he's less for the wind and the fight,
  Yet out in strange hills, when the blue shadows rise
  And I'm tired from the wind and the sun in my eyes,
    I wonder, sometimes, if he's right.

  I've courted the wind and I've followed her free
    From the snows that the low stars have kissed
  To the heave and the dip of the wavy old sea,
    Yet I reckon there's somethin' I've missed.
  El pobre! Yes, mebbe there's somethin' I've missed,
    And it mebbe is more than I've won--
  Just a door that's my own, while the cool shadows creep,
  And a woman a-singin' my kid to sleep
    When I'm tired from the wind and the sun.

NOTE.--"El pobre," Spanish, "Poor fellow."


  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!_

[Illustration: "_There's land where yet no ditchers dig_
                 _Nor cranks experiment;_
               _It's only lovely, free and big_
                 _And isn't worth a cent._"]


  Men of the older, gentler soil,
    Loving the things that their fathers wrought--
  Worn old fields of their fathers' toil,
    Scarred old hills where their fathers fought--
  Loving their land for each ancient trace,
  Like a mother dear for her wrinkled face,
    Such as they never can understand
    The way we have loved you, young, young land!

  Born of a free, world-wandering race,
    Little we yearned o'er an oft-turned sod.
  What did we care for the fathers' place,
    Having ours fresh from the hand of God?
  Who feared the strangeness or wiles of you
  When from the unreckoned miles of you,
    Thrilling the wind with a sweet command,
    Youth unto youth called, young, young land?

  North, where the hurrying seasons changed
    Over great gray plains where the trails lay long,
  Free as the sweeping Chinook we ranged,
    Setting our days to a saddle song.
  Through the icy challenge you flung to us,
  Through your shy Spring kisses that clung to us,
    Following far as the rainbow spanned,
    Fiercely we wooed you, young, young land!

  South, where the sullen black mountains guard
    Limitless, shimmering lands of the sun,
  Over blinding trails where the hoofs rang hard,
    Laughing or cursing, we rode and won.
  Drunk with the virgin white fire of you,
  Hotter than thirst was desire of you;
    Straight in our faces you burned your brand,
    Marking your chosen ones, young, young land.

  When did we long for the sheltered gloom
    Of the older game with its cautious odds?
  Gloried we always in sun and room,
    Spending our strength like the younger gods.
  By the wild sweet ardor that ran in us,
  By the pain that tested the man in us,
    By the shadowy springs and the glaring sand,
    You were our true-love, young, young land.

  When the last free trail is a prim, fenced lane
    And our graves grow weeds through forgetful Mays,
  Richer and statelier then you'll reign,
    Mother of men whom the world will praise.
  And your sons will love you and sigh for you,
  Labor and battle and die for you,
    But never the fondest will understand
    The way we have loved you, young, young land.

[Illustration: "_Born of a free, world-wandering race,_
                 _Little we yearned o'er an oft-turned sod._"]


  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.


  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.


  Up from the prairie and through the pines,
  Over your straggling headboard lines
    Winds of the West go by.
  You must love them, you booted dead,
  More than the dreamers who died in bed--
  You old-timers who took your lead
    Under the open sky!

  Leathery knights of the dim old trail,
  Lawful fighters or scamps from jail,
    Dimly your virtues shine.
  Yet who am I that I judge your wars,
  Deeds that my daintier soul abhors,
  Wide-open sins of the wide outdoors,
    Manlier sins than mine.

  Dear old mavericks, customs mend.
  I would not glory to make an end
    Marked like a homemade sieve.
  But with a touch of your own old pride
  Grant me to travel the trail I ride.
  Gamely and gaily, the way you died,
    Give me the nerve to live.

  Ay, and for you I will dare assume
  Some Valhalla of sun and room
    Over the last divide.
  There, in eternally fenceless West,
  Rest to your souls, if they care to rest,
  Or else fresh horses beyond the crest
    And a star-speckled range to ride.

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