The Land of My Birth


Photo: Wikipedia Labeled for non-commercial use.

Photo: Wikipedia
Labeled for non-commercial use.

The Land of My Birth

The wind blows wild on western land,
upending stories told of yore,
lays bare the tales of daring men—
now lend your ear, I share this lore.

The West was lawless, savage, free
to those who braved a lonely life,
who claimed God-given destiny,
their right, their will—soon gained by strife.

Those cowboys, miners, pioneers—
some pillaged peoples, raped the earth—,
they forged their way to new frontiers
lay bare such pain, bled forth rebirth.

The cowboys, gathered round a fire,
exhausted, aching, often cold,
they drank their whisky, shared their cares,
slept ‘neath the stars when night grew old.

The miners dreamt of wealth and gold,
they panned and dug, hoping to find
a vein of ore, the mother lode,
they lost their hope, often their minds.

Brave families crossed the barren plains,
leaving their homes and all they knew.
So many perished on the way.
Danger was great, successes few.

The Native peoples fared not well,
forced from the places they called home.
within they wept for their death knell,
confined–no more just free to roam.

Now, wildlife suffers loss of space,
The desert shrinks, gives way to man
who fouls the waters, laying waste,
and here am I, let’s not pretend.

And so the land I love today
once known for pristine purity,
though beautiful has known decay
protect her for posterity.

Today, at dVerse Poetics, Stacey is guest hosting and invites us to write Folk Poetry. Although my home is in Nevada, I’ve never written a cowboy poem. Each year, Elko, NV hosts a huge Cowboy Poetry Fest. Originally, I’d intended to write such a poem, but as it played out, it became more of an expression of concern for the unstoppable growth in NV and here in the SoCal desert where I also spend time. As an example, I used to see many Roadrunners when we visited the desert. This year I have only seen one. I also address the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny,” the belief that God intended the West for newcomers with the result that the Native Americans were displaced, relegated to Reservations.

This poem is a rough draft written as a Quatrain with the rhyme scheme ABAB, CDCD etc. I’ve attempted to use Iambic Tetrameter. If you notice anything not quite right, please let me know–the same if anything doesn’t make sense. 

The Roadrunner Wikipedia Commons Labeled for non-commercial reuse.

The Roadrunner
Wikipedia Commons
Labeled for non-commercial reuse.

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20 thoughts on “The Land of My Birth

  1. mtw says:

    this is such an expansive picture of history – you did such a beautiful job with portraying culture & events honestly.

    Like

  2. Bryan Ens says:

    So tragic that so little is left of what was once pristine.

    Like

  3. Golly, I just watched the Ken Burns’ series about the West. Your poem reminds me of it–all the glory and the pain. Nicely done!

    Like

  4. Misky says:

    Golly, what an epic you’ve written here! Love it.

    Like

  5. You put a lot of heart and your own self in here. Wonderful

    Like

  6. Mama Zen says:

    Very well done.

    Like

  7. lillian says:

    You’ve taken us across history here. The journey for some was arduous and certainly, as your words say, arduous for our earth.
    For me the romantic image of the cowboy is where you paint them sleeping under the starts….but you’ve also shifted us to realities here too. Well done.

    Like

  8. Waltermarks says:

    That is stirring! It reminds us of how much this land lost for the gain of so few.

    Like

  9. Bodhirose says:

    I too wrote of our Native peoples. We could have learned so much from them as to how to keep our land pristine and healthy but no, we kill and herd them into reservations to keep them “safe.” Ugh! I love your folk tale/song, Victoria.

    Like

  10. whimsygizmo says:

    Victoria, we see that so much down here in So Nev, too. My son, a true lover of the desert, hopes to educate others one day. Love this piece.

    Like

  11. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    I agree 😀 this poem can truly be set to music. Wonderful write.

    Like

  12. therisa says:

    Reading this powerful poem, of yours, Victoria, is like having a history book opened, before me, and being told, a lesson, about our disgracefully actions, over the past 2 centuries, to the land and the aboriginal people, who live here, first. May we learn something, so future generations can avoid similar destructive actions.

    Like

  13. Miss Stacy says:

    what an amazing history lesson.

    i love these types of poems. i always learn something, and am left pondering the souls in the times that came before us.

    also really appreciate how well you worked the rhyme scheme. it carries the reader brilliantly.

    thank you for writing with my prompt today! so happy to have you.

    Like

  14. I read this in the morning and wanted to say how much I enjoyed it’s poetry and spirit. Having re read I think it is a really important response and acknowledgement of the past and hope for a better way forward. For me I try and read out loud to see if the rhythm works. I sense yours does and wonder if there is an upcoming Joni Mitchell to sing it?

    Like

  15. I like how it begins as a cowboy poem, the tetrameter is perfect for that… (I used it too, It feels folky) then how you turn it through the displacement and murder of natives to today when nature is displaced as well.. truly wonderful, and the rhythm should be sung… (I think we did cowboy poetry a few years back at dVerse, but maybe you missed that)…

    Like

  16. Grace says:

    The raping of earth continues today – modern life and city intrudes very quickly and I can see the decay where once it was all pristine ~ I love the prayerful ending with: protect her for posterity. I also admire the flow of the quatrain ~

    Like

  17. The sad fact is that our we and our forbears have done their best to ruin the planet, with greed and cruelty combined with ignorance and intolerance. Your poem tells the story with truth and compassion, and should someone set it to music, it could top the charts.

    Like

  18. Wonderful writing, Victoria.

    Like

  19. Yup, a good time to write a cowboy poem. There are some really good ones out there. I like this one!

    Like

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