Charles Badger Clark

(1883 - 1957 / Albia, Iowa)

The Plainsmen - Poem by Charles Badger Clark

Men of the older, gentler soil,
Loving the things that their fathers wrought-
Worn old fields of their father's 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 father's place,
Having ours fresh from the hand of God?
Who feared the strangeness or wiles of you
When from 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 us,
Through your shy Spring kisses that clung to us,
Following as 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 hoof 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 in 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 prime, fenced land
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.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, March 12, 2016

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