Henry Herbert Knibbs

(24 October 1874 - 17 May 1945 / Clifton, Ontario)

Roll A Rock Down - Poem by Henry Herbert Knibbs

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On, out in the West where the riders are ready,
They sing an old song and they tell an old tale,
And its moral is plain: Take it easy, go steady,
While riding a horse on the Malibu Trail.

It's a high, rocky trail with its switch-backs and doubles,
It has no beginning and never an end:
It's risky and rough and it's plumb full of troubles,
From Shifty -- that's shale -- up to Powder Cut Bend.

Old-timers will tell you the rangers who made it,
Sang 'Roll A Rock Down,' with a stiff upper lip,
And cussed all creation, but managed to grade it;
With a thousand-foot drop if a pony should slip.

Oh, the day it was wet and the sky it was cloudy,
The trail was as slick as any oil-riggers's pants
When Ranger McCabe on his pony, Old Rowdy,
Came ridin' where walkin' was takin' a chance.

'Oh, Roll A Rock Down!' picks and shovels was clangin',
And Rowdy a-steppin' that careful and light,
When the edge it gave way and McCabe was left hangin'
Clean over the rim--with no bottom in sight.

I shook out a loop--bein' crowded for throwin';
I flipped a fair noose for a rope that was wet:
It caught just as Mac lost his holt and was goin',
And burned through my fingers: it's burnin' them yet.

For Ranger McCabe never knuckled to danger;
My pardner in camp, on the trail, or in town:
And he slid into glory, a true forest ranger,
With' 'Hell! I'm a-goin'! Just roll a rock down.'

So, roll a rock down where a ranger is sleepin'
Aside of his horse below Powder Cut Bend:
I ride and I look where the shadows are creepin',
And roll a rock down--for McCabe was my friend.

I've sung you a song and I've told you my story,
And all that I ask when I'm done with the show,
Is, roll a rock down when I slide into glory,
And say that I went like a ranger should go.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, September 30, 2010



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