A WESTERNER by E. A. Brininstool



by E. A. Brininstool

I knowed he was a Westerner
I knowed it by his talk;
I knowed it by his headgear,
I knowed it by his walk.
His face was bronzed and fearless;
His eye was bright and keen,
That spoke of wide, vast ranges
I knowed that he had seen.

Somehow I knowed he’d ridden
The range-lands of the West;
His speech was bunkhouse patter—
The kind I love the best.
He brought a hint of prairies,
Of alkali and sage;
Of stretches wide and open —
The Western heritage.

I knowed he was a Westerner
Just from the way he done;
His footgear, too, proclaimed him
A stalwart Western son…
He had “the makin’s” with him,
And I could not forget
His bed-ground from the manner
He rolled his cigaret.

He brought with him the freedom
Of that great Western land;
Where grassy billows, endless,
Sprawl out on ev’ry hand.
The city noises chafed him,
And each skyscraper tall
Seemed like grim barriers risin’,
Or some deep canyon wall.

He seemed a part and parcel
Of countries wide and far,
Where great herds dot the mesas,
Out where the cowmen are.
I knowed he was a Westerner
Becuz he was so free
In yellin’ “Howdy pardner!”
When he was passin me.

…E. A. Brininstool, from Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

E. A. (Earl Alonzo) Brininstool was a western historian, best known for his writings about Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He also worked as a reporter and editorial writer for Los Angeles newspapers. In a 1994 reissue of his 1954 book, Troopers with Custer, it is claimed that he wrote over 5,000 Western poems.

In the introduction to Brininstool’s 1914 poetry collection, Trail Dust of a Maverick, Robert J. Burdette wrote that Brininstool, like earlier dialect poets (including Robert Burns):

. . . has done the same thing for the abundant, exuberant, natural dialect of the range and the rodeo; the long winding trail, the sweep of the prairies . . . his verse lends splendor to the sunrise and beauty to the sunset . . . His songs have this deathless quality—they chant the glories and the beauties, the joys and the dangers, the dances and the conflicts of the vanishing life.

This 1913 photo of E.A. Brininstool and “Curley” is from the Native Peoples of Northern Great Plains Digital Images Database at the Montana State University Library. From the site: “The Native Peoples of Northern Great Plains Digital Images Database includes photographs, paintings, ledger drawings, documents, serigraphs, and stereographs from 1874 through the 1940s…”

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