The Plainsmen

by Badger Clark (1919)

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.

Monadnock Valley Press > Badger Clark