The Old Timer

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Far, far across the rolling swale, I've watched the bison pass;I've seen the lonely prairie trail Wind thro' the rustling grass;I've felt the cool winds sweep the plain Where Nature's hand is free;But now they break o'er leagues of grain, Like ripples o'er the sea.

I've seen full many a summer come, And many a winter go,'Till my step is weak and my hand is numb, And my hair like the driven snow.I live in the past with the years that were, My joys are those I've known,There's too much stir in the Western air; I wish you'd leave me alone.

Where creaked the old Red River cart In loud, discordant tones,The shy coyote stirred apart The dried-out buffalo bonesAnd there along the coulee side The wolf had made her lair.But the fields of wheat are waving wide, And I see just things that were.

Never mind if I live in the past; 'Twas a life worth while to seeThe buffalo roam on the prairies vast, And the red man riding free,I've felt the breath of life on my cheek In the days of the long ago,And God! what it is to be old and weak, There none but the aged know.

Too much life for the old man now, When the trains go whizzing by,When the land all' round is broke by the plow, And there's nothing meets the eyeBut the everlasting fields of grain And fences made of wire,And furrows broke across the plain To stop the prairie fire.

I've seen the prairie schooners come With white tops glittering far,Bold adventurers seeking a home, Where now your wheatfields are.But then was only the grassy waste As far as the eye could see,Yet sunbrowned men to the westward faced, And one of those men was me.

I don't know but what we were happy too, When there weren't the towns so near,But times have changed since the roads were new, And so has the pioneer.And maybe when I have the call to go Out over the great divide,The Lord will try and arrange it so I can prospect the other side.

Far, far, I see against the skies The herds of bison pass.The trail to far-off outposts lies Across the waste of grass.I feel the cool wind on my cheek As I ride far from men--But God! I am so old and weak I'll never ride again.

© Anderson Robert Thompson