Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BORDER, by CHARLES BADGER CLARK JR.



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THE BORDER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When the dreamers of old coronado
Last Line: And a people with sun in their veins.
Alternate Author Name(s): Clark, Badger
Subject(s): Boundaries; Colorado (State); Cowboys; Geography; Prairies; Borders; Plains


When the dreamers of old Coronado,
From the hills where the heat ripples run,
Made a dust to the far Colorado
And wagged their steel caps in the sun,
They prayed like the saint and the martyr
And swore like the devils below,
For a man is both angel and Tartar
In the land where the dry rivers flow.

Ay, the Border, the sun smitten Border,
That fences the Land of the Free,
Where the desert glares grim like a warder
And the Rio gleams on to the sea;
Where ruins, like dreamy old sages,
Hint tales of dead empires and ages,
Where a young race is rearing the stages
Of ambitious empires to be.

Came the padres to soften the savage
And show him the heavenly goal;
Came Spaniards to piously ravage
And winnow his flesh from his soul;
Then miner and riotous herder,
Over-riding white breed of the North,
Brought progress, and new sorts of murder,
And a kind of perpetual Fourth.

Ay, the Border, the whimsical Border,
Deep purples and dazzling gold,
Soft hearts full of mirthful disorder,
Hard faces, sun wrinkled and old,
Warm kisses 'neath patio roses,
Cold lead as the luck-god disposes,
Clean valor fame never discloses,
Black trespasses laughingly told!

Then out from the peaceful old places
Walked the Law, grave, strong and serene,
And the harsh elbow-rub of the races
Was padded, with writs in between.
Then stilled was the strife and the racket,
That neighborly love might advance—
With a knife in the sleeve of its jacket
And a gun in the band of its pants.

Ay, the Border, the bright, placid Border!
It sleeps, like a snake in the sun,
Like a "hole" tamped and primed in due order,
Like a shining and full throated gun.
But the dust-devil dances and staggers
And the yucca flower daintily swaggers
At her birth from a cluster of daggers,
And ever the heat ripples run.

Fierce, hot, is the Border's bright daytime,
Calm, sweet, the vast night on its plains;
White hell on the mesas, its Maytime,
A green-and-gold heaven, its Rains.
It is grimmer than slumber's dark brother,
'Tis as gay as the mocking-bird likes;
It loves like a lioness mother
And strikes as the rattlesnake strikes.

Ay, the Border, bewildering Border,
Our youngest, and oldest, domains,
Where the face of the Angel Recorder
Knits hard between chuckles and pains,
Vast peace, the clear sky's earthly double,
Witch cauldron forever a-bubble,
Home of mystery, splendor and trouble
And a people with sun in their veins.





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