The Ballad of William Sycamore
Stephen Vincent Benet
When I grew tall as the Indian corn,
My father had little to lend me,
But he gave me his great, old powder-horn
And his woodman's skill to befriend me.
With a leather shirt to cover my back,
And a redskin nose to unravel
Each forest sign, I carried my pack
As far as a scout could travel.
Till I lost my boyhood and found my wife,
A girl like a Salem clipper!
A woman straight as a hunting-knife
With eyes as bright as the Dipper!
We cleared our camp where the buffalo feed,
Unheard-of streams were our flagons;
And I sowed my sons like the apple-seed
on the trail of the Western wagons.
They were right, tight boys, never sulky or slow,
A fruitful, a goodly muster.
The eldest died at Alamo.
The youngest fell with Custer.
The letter that told it burned my hand.
Yet we smiled and said, "So be it!"
But I could not live when they fenced the land,
For it broke my heart to see it.
I saddled a red, unbroken colt
And rode him into the day there;
And he threw me down like a thunderbolt
And rolled on me as I lay there.
The hunter's whistle hummed in my ear
As the city-men tried to move me,
And I died in my boots like a pioneer
With the whole wide sky above me.
Now I lie in the heart of the fat, black soil,
Like the seed of the prairie-thistle;
It has washed my bones with honey and oil
And picked them clean as a whistle.
And my youth returns, like the rains of Spring,
And my sons, like the wild-geese flying;
And I lie and hear the meadow-lark sing
And have much content in my dying.
Go play with the towns you have built of blocks,
The towns where you would have bound me!
I sleep in my earth like tired fox,
And my buffalo have found me.
© Stephen Vincent Benet
Put into WWW by Josella Simone Playton
1997-09-12 22:22:22 MEST .. 1999-07-02 23:44:32 MEST
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