RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
by Ronald Ginther
Dedicated to his Aunt Ruth Stadem Harrington
until the horse joined tribes that were first to pass
into this land of glacial course,
where bison trod each water source,
eyed sharply by the wolf and eagle;
fangs and talons bred no remorse
as age on age they served to cull
the weak'ning cow, or aging bull.
Come thaw, grasses spring flowered, forest-dense,
and sheltered both prey and predator's birth;
bright Joseph's coat immense, the Plains
--yet to know a single fence--stretched living and vibrant around,
beneath a multitude gone since the gun
and plow turned keen to hunt the grass and bison magnificent.
A million hoofbeats' thunder as bison rush a Platte salt lick?
Moonlit howls--no hearthside purr!
And milkweed pods go ric-tic-tic!
Wing and wind strum from the sky,
each stem and feather a harp pick,
while drumming beat and chanting cry
fill the Prairie's songbook by and by.
The Frontier overflowed with richness.
Empire free of tax and tyrant
ranged with room for all to bless;
Horace Greeley urged, and Youth cried, "Yes!"
The Argosy of Dakota had no doors.
Wealth beyond gold no man could guess,
gently rolling, or smooth as floors,
a Niagara that pours and pours!
brings water to the men working the fields:
A rail-splittin Lincoln led the way to freedom for the slaves long-caged.
The Union, yea or nay?
A starry flag with stripes, not bars, was pay.
And America rose from Gettysburg renewed.
(One day thence, where Black Hills lay, Mount Rushmore faces would be hewed from granite cliffs a dreamer viewed.)
few would argue with the Four.
Even at this late a date, the stone is speaking evermore:
"This flame of Liberty we bore
'tis best served by loving Power least,
lest men wax tyrant, oppress the poor."
Yet men would still turn savage beast,
and drive the Indian from the east.
To Dakota Territory bison trails ran.
Parting from the last of kin, he found a choice spot to settle in.
For fuel bison "chips". Water? Nothing that a pick can't win.
From thick sod he shelter rips.
All else he brought along on trips.
Homesteaded like David Guth in a Sod House in Dakota Territory, 1880s
A cow, a horse, three dozen chickens.
His wagon overturned on hay as warm as furs.
And snug beneath it, safe from cold winds,
he spent three years, and dreamt of corn-filled bins?
Now imagine yourself in his place!
This modern life, its sins and dins,
day after day the old rat race,
exchanged for a fresh, new lease on God's grace!
Independence, self-sufficience, and hard work showed he had just the right stuff.
But wicked things in men's hearts lurk
that can cut heads off like a Turk!
One day came an Indian chased by enemies berserk.
Guth saved the bleeding, wounded one, just like the Good Samaritan.
the dross along with purest gold!
At risk to life a lesser man must fall;
but Guth, alone, proved firm and bold,
upheld the Golden Rule old.
He hid the man in a haystack,
and his pursuers, it is told, chased his horse off down the track
--thus a life was given back!