THE TIME TO DECIDE
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)
Did you ever stand on the ledges,
On the brink of the great plateau
And look from their jagged edges
On the country that lay below?
When your vision met no resistance
And nothing to stop your gaze,
Till the mountain peaks in the distance
Stood wrapped in a purple haze.
On the winding water courses
And the trails on the mountain sides,
Where you guided your patient horses
On your long and lonesome rides.
When you saw Earth’s open pages
And you seemed to understand
As you gazed on the work of ages,
Rugged and rough, but grand.
There, the things that you thought were strongest
And the things that you thought were great,
And for which you had striven longest
Seemed to carry but little weight.
While the things that were always nearer,
The things that you thought were small;
Seemed to stand out grander and clearer.
As you looked from the mountain wall.
While you’re gazing on such a vision
And your outlook is clear and wide,
If you have to make a decision,
That’s the time and place to decide
Although you return to the city
And mingle again with the throng;
Though your heart may be softened by pity
Or bitter from strife and wrong.
Though others should laugh in derision,
And the voice of the past grow dim;
Yet, stick to the cool decision
That you made on the mountain’s rim.
…by Bruce Kiskaddon
“The Time to Decide” appeared in Bruce Kiskaddon’s first book, Rhymes of the Ranges, published in 1924. In a Preface to his 1947 book, Rhymes of the Ranges and other poems, he tells a bit about himself:
“In 1898 I started riding in Colorado. Since that time I have put in ten or twelve years around horse and cow outfits….I never really completed grammar school and my powers of imagination are not what some writers are gifted with. So you will find these rhymes are all written from actual happenings or the old legends of the cow country. Hope it brings back memories to the old boys and that the younger ones enjoy them.”
In a video made earlier this month, Andy Hedges (pictured), the host of Cowboy Crossroads, recites this poem. He also recites the poem on MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon, a 3-CD collection of Bruce Kiskaddon’s poems.
Kiskaddon wrote many poems still read and recited today. See features about him at CowboyPoetry.com.
(Request permission to share this photo. The poem is in the public domain.)