A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO COWBOY POETRY, OR, WHO’S THE GUY IN THE BIG HAT AND WHAT IS HE TALKING ABOUT?
Long, long ago in a land called Texas, unemployed soldiers from the recent War Between the States rounded up herds of wild cattle and trailed them north to feed a hungry nation. Evenings along the way, as the sun set romantically in the west, the boys gathered and, accompanied by a crackling fire and the howl of coyotes, recited for one another rhymes composed during long hours in the saddle, set to the rhythms of creaking leather, rattling dewclaws, and drumming hoofbeats. Being illiterate, these poets of the prairies passed their recitations from mouth to ear, ear to mouth, mouth to ear, all down the generations in an unbroken oral chain. Still today, these roughshod rhymes are recited wherever folks in wide-brim hats and high-top boots gather.
And so goes the story called Cowboy Poetry.
It’s a touching story, the stuff of legends. Which it is, mostly. Continue reading