RIDIN’, by Charles Badger Clark, Jr.

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RIDIN’
Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957)

There is some that like the city—
Grass that’s curried smooth and green,
Theaytres and stranglin’ collars,
Wagons run by gasoline—
But for me it’s hawse and saddle
Every day without a change,
And a desert sun a-blazin’
On a hundred miles of range.

Just a-ridin’, a-ridin’—
Desert ripplin’ in the sun,
Mountains blue among the skyline—
I don’t envy anyone
When I’m ridin’.

When my feet is in the stirrups
And my hawse is on the bust,
With his hoofs a-flashin’ lightnin’
From a cloud of golden dust,
And the bawlin’ of the cattle
Is a-comin’ down the wind
Then a finer life than ridin’
Would be mighty hard to find.

Just a-ridin’, a-ridin’—
Splittin’ long cracks through the air,
Stirrin’ up a baby cyclone,
Rippin’ up the prickly pear
As I’m ridin’.

I don’t need no art exhibits
When the sunset does her best,
Paintin’ everlastin’ glory
On the mountains to the west
And your opery looks foolish
When the night-bird starts his tune
And the desert’s silver mounted
By the touches of the moon.

Just a-ridin’, a-ridin’—
Who kin envy kings and czars
When the coyotes down the valley
Are a singin’ to the stars,
If he’s ridin’?

When my earthly trail is ended
And my final bacon curled
And the last great roundup’s finished
At the Home Ranch of the world
I don’t want no harps nor haloes
Robes nor other dressed up things—
Let me ride the starry ranges
On a pinto hawse with wings!

Just a-ridin’, a-ridin’—
Nothin’ I’d like half so well
As a-roundin’ up the sinners
That have wandered out of Hell,
And a-ridin’

….by Charles Badger Clark

Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957) got his cowboying experience in Arizona. He became the Poet Laureate of South Dakota, where he was born and lived for most of his life.

“Ridin'” is said to be his first poem. It was was included in his first poetry collection, Sun and Saddle Leather, in 1915. Clark’s own recitation of the poem is included on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two, from CowboyPoetry.com.

The great Don Edwards put the poem to music and it is on his Saddle Songs album. Listen and watch a 2012 video where he sings it with Waddie Mitchell reciting his “Commuting.”

Clark wrote many lasting poems, and others also found their way into song (including “Spanish is a Loving Tongue” and “To Her”). Find poetry and more in our features about Badger Clark at cowboypoetry.com.

>>>>> We’re considering a future MASTERS CD of Badger Clark’s poetry. Do you have a favorite poem or favorite recitation? Do you recite a lesser known Clark poem? Email us.

This beautiful May, 2016 photograph is by John Reedy, Montana photographer, songwriter, musician, and poet. Pictured is his daughter Brigid (brigidreedy.com), an outstanding musician, poet, songwriter,  artist, and more. She performs at events across the West, and is a frequently invited performer at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Brigid, her brother Johnny, and her father John are all included on the recent 3-CD set, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.

See additional impressive photography at John Reedy’s site: reedy.photoshelter.com. Find more about him at cowboypoetry.com and visit twistedcowboy.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this photograph with this post, but please request permission for other uses. The poem is in the public domain.)