The Cowboy poem was in high demand back in the old west. There was not much to do back then, so travels were made up of song, dance and poetry. Below is an example of poetry that was written long before our time.
“Ten Thousand Cattle Straying”
Ten thousand cattle straying,
As rangers sang of old;
The warm chinook’s delaying,
The aspen shake with cold.
Ten thousand herds are passing,
So pass the golden years;
Behind us clouds are massing,
Like the last of the old frontiers.
It is poems like these that made the long day bearable and the job a little easier. It was not uncommon for a cowboy to put a poem like this to song. Many would carry some sort of instrument with them.
Guitars would often be pulled out of their belongings for a night of song and poetry around the campfire. Harmonicas were also a instrument of choice. At times someone might be carrying a fiddle, while others would choose just to sing along and clap. Scenes like this were common in the old west.
There was more to a cowboy than just shooting and bringing the cattle home. They had to be good at communicating and entertaining themselves and others. You may notice that most of the poetry written and verbalized by cowboys focused on a job, woman or the loneliness of the range.
The jobs were backbreaking, the environment harsh and depending on the area, danger was always an issue. You could easily run into a few problems when traveling from town to town. Most of the cowboy poetry you read comes from the south western part of the United States. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California were all big cowboy states.
Cowboy poetry is not the most popular topic when the conversation turns to cowboys, but it does give us a different perspective on the men and women that helped shape the old west. They had a softer side to them that is rarely written about in books or shown in movies.
Filed under: The Old West
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