Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A COWBOY ALONE WITH HIS CONSCIENCE, by JAMES BARTON ADAMS



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A COWBOY ALONE WITH HIS CONSCIENCE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When I ride into the mountains on my little broncho
Last Line: When thar ain't nobody near him, 'ceptin' god.
Subject(s): Conscience; Cowboys; Ranch Life; Solitude; West (u.s.); Loneliness; Southwest; Pacific States


WHEN I ride into the mountains on my little broncho bird,
Whar my ears are never pelted with the bawlin' o' the herd,
An' a sort o' dreamy quiet hangs upon the western air,
An' thar ain't no animation to be noticed anywhere;
Then I sort o' feel oneasy, git a notion in my head
I'm the only livin' mortal — everybody else is dead —
An' I feel a queer sensation, rather skeery like, an' odd,
When thar ain't nobody near me, 'ceptin' God.

Every rabbit that I startle from its shaded restin' place,
Seems a furry shaft o' silence shootin' into noiseless space,
An' a rattlesnake a crawlin' through the rocks so old an' gray
Helps along the ghostly feelin' in a rather startlin' way.
Every breeze that dares to whisper does it with a bated breath,
Every bush stands grim an' silent in a sort o' livin' death —
Tell you what, a feller's feelin's give him many an icy prod,
When thar ain't nobody near him, 'ceptin' God.

Somehow allus git to thinkin' o' the error o' my ways,
An' my memory goes wingin' back to childhood's happy days,
When a mother, now a restin' in the grave so dark an' deep,
Used to listen while I'd whisper. "Now I lay me down to sleep."
Then a sort o' guilty feelin' gits a surgin' in my breast,
An' I wonder how I'll stack up at the final judgment test,
Conscience allus welts it to me with a mighty cuttin' rod,
When thar ain't nobody near me, 'ceptin' God.

Take the very meanest sinner that the nation ever saw,
One that don't respect religion more'n he respects the law,
One that never does an action that's commendable or good,
An' immerse him fur a season out in Nature's solitude,
An' the cog-wheels o' his conscience 'll be rattled out o' gear,
More'n if he 'tended preachin' every Sunday in the year,
Fur his sins 'ill come a ridin' through his cranium rough shod,
When thar ain't nobody near him, 'ceptin' God.





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