The Old Cow Man

I rode across a valley range
I hadn't seen for years.
The trail was all so spoilt and strange
It nearly fetched the tears.
I had to let ten fences down
(The fussy lanes ran wrong)
And each new line would make me frown
And hum a mournin' song.
Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
Hear 'em stretchin' of the wire!
The nester brand is on the land;
I reckon I'll retire,
While progress toots her brassy horn
And makes her motor buzz,
I thank the Lord I wasn't born
No later than I was.
'Twas good to live when all the sod,
Without no fence or fuss,
Belonged in partnership to God,
The Gover'ment and us.
With skyline bounds from east to west
And room to go and come,
I loved my fellow man the best
When he was scattered some.
Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
Close and closer cramps the wire.
There's hardly any place to back away
And call a man a liar.
Their house has locks on every door;
Their land is in a crate.
These ain't the plains of God no more,
They're only real estate.
There's land where yet no ditchers dig
Nor cranks experiment;
It's only lovely, free and big
And isn't worth a cent.
I pray that them who come to spoil
May wait till I am dead
Before they foul that blessed soil
With fence and cabbage head.
Yet it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
Far and farther crawls the wire.
To crowd and pinch another inch
Is all their heart's desire.
The word is overstocked with men
And some will see the day
When each must keep his little pen,
But I'll be far away.
When my old soul hunts range and rest
Beyond the last divide,
Just plant me in some stretch of West
That's sunny, lone and wide.
Let cattle rub my tombstone down
And coyotes mourn their kin,
Let hawses paw and tromp the moun'
But don't you fence it in!
Oh it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
And they pen the land with wire.
They figure fence and copper cents
Where we laughed 'round the fire.
Job cussed his birthday, night and morn,
In his old land of Uz,
But I'm just glad I wasn't born
no later than I was!

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