The Night Herder

I laughed when the dawn was a-peepin'
And swore in the blaze of the noon,
But down from the stars is a-creepin'
A softer, oneasier tune.
Away, and away, and away,
The whisperin' night seems to say
Though the trail-weary cattle are sleepin'
And the desert dreams under the moon.

By day, if the roarin' herd scatters,
My heart it is steady and set,
But now, when they're quiet, it patters
Like the ball in a spinnin' roulette.
Away, and away, and away
To the rim where the heat lightnin's play—
Out there is the one trail that matters
To the valley I never forget.

There's a pass where the black shadows shiver,
Then a desert all silvery blue,
A divide, and the breaks by the river,
Then a light in the valley—and you!
Away, and away, and away—
'Tis a month till I see you by day,
But under the moon it's forever
And the weary trail winds the world through.

The coyotes are laughin' out yonder,
A happy owl whoops on the hill—
Oh, wild, lucky things that kin wander
As far and as free as they will!
Away, and away, and away,
And I that am wilder than they
Must loll in my saddle and ponder
Or sing for the cows to be still!

I see the dark river waves wrinkle;
The valley trees droop in a swoon;
You're dreamin' where valley bells tinkle
And half-asleep mockin'-birds croon.
Away, and away, and away—
Do your dainty dreams ever stray
To a camp where the desert stars twinkle
And a lone rider sings to the moon?

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