Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BLIZZARD, by EUGENE FITCH WARE



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THE BLIZZARD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The fiddler was improvising
Last Line: "the river will reach the sea!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Ironquill
Subject(s): Cowboys


The fiddler was improvising,
At times he would cease to play,
Then shutting his eyes
He sang and sang, in a wild ecstatic way;

Then ceasing his song, he whipped and
Whipped the strangs with his frantic bow,
Releasing impatient music,
Alternately loud and low;

Then wilting and reeling,
He sang as if he were dreaming aloud;
And wrapped the frenzied music
Around him like a shroud;

And this is the strange refrain,
Which he sang in a minor key:
"No matter how long the river,
The river will reach the sea!"

It was midnight at the Cimarron
Not many a year ago;
The blizzard was whirling pebbles and sand
And billows of frozen snow.

He sat on a bale of harness,
In a dougout roofed with clay;
The wolves overhead bewailed
In a dismal protracted way;

They peeped down the adobe chimney,
And quarreled and sniffed and clawed,
But the fiddler kept on with his music
As the blizzard stalked abroad;

And time and again, that strange refrain
Came forth in a minor key:
"No matter how long the river,
The river will reach the sea!"

Around him on boxes and barrels,
Uncharmed by the fiddler's tune,
The herders were drinking and
Betting their cartridges on vantoon,

And once in a while, a player,
In spirit of reckless fun,
Would join in the fiddler's music
And fire off the fiddler's gun.

An old man sat on a sack of corn
And stared with a vacant gaze;
He had lost his hopes in the Gypsum Hills,
And he thought of the olden days.

The tears fell fast when the strange refrain
Came forth in a minor key:
"No matter how long the river,
The river will reach the sea!"

At morning the tempest ended,
And the sun came back once more;
The old, old man of the Gypsum Hills
Had gone to the smokey shore.

They chopped him a grave in the frozen ground
Where the morning sunlight fell;
With a restful look he held
In his hand an invisible asphodel.

They filled up the grave, and each herder
Said good-by, till the Judgement Day.
But the filddler stayed, and he sang and played,
As the herders walked away

A requiem in a lonesome land,
In a mournful minor key:
"No matter how long the river,
The river will reach the sea!"






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