5 Good Poems About Cowboys

1. A Prairie Song

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

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

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

by Anonymous

2. The Cowboy’s Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Anonymous

3. The Railroad Corral

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

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

The afternoon shadows are starting to lean,
When the chuck-wagon sticks in the marshy ravine;
The herd scatters farther than vision can look,
For you can bet all true punchers will help out the cook.
Come shake out your rawhide and snake it up fair;
Come break your old bronco to take in his share;
Come from your steers in the long chaparral,
For ‘t is all in the drive to the railroad corral.

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

by Anonymous

4. Ridin’

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’.

by Charles Badger Clark

5. The Song of the Leather

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Charles Badger Clark
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