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Cowboy Definition

Cowboy poetry is rhymed, metered verse written by someone who has lived a significant portion of his or her life in Western North American cattle culture. The verse reflects an intimate knowledge of that way of life, and the community from which it maintains itself in tradition.


A Cowboy poem is one that was written by cowboys and others associated with the cowboy life. After being on long cattle drives and living on ranches, the cowboys would sit around the campfire at night and tell stories about their adventures and what their work was like. It was these stories that depicted the Cowboy and what he went through in the Wild Wild West. These were daring, bold poems about what these cowboys went through on an every day basis and were told mostly in North America as their origin.

While many cowboys wrote these poems, there were also others who wrote Cowboy poetry. A well known Cowboy poem was "The Ride of Paul Venarez" by Eben E. Rexford, a 19th-Century freelance author. These Cowboy poems were contemporary in nature and derived from all of the hard work of a cowboy's life. A strong depiction of the way a cowboy truly lived formed the basis for this Cowboy poetry. 

Cowboy Poem Example

Compadre by Jim Fish

We’ve shared the trail, kicked up some dust,
An’ stood a storm or two.
We’ve rode the plains, the wide frontier,
The easy trails were few.
You’ve listened like some wise old sage
To ever thing I’ve said,
An’ as a friend, supported me,
No matter where it led.

I wished I coulda carried you,
The times you were in pain;
Or rustled up some kinda shed
To turn the blowin’ rain.
I’ve come up shy with some your needs,
You gave me more’n you got,
But in your silence, seemed to know,
I needed you a lot.

Compadre, friend, amigo, pard;
I called you all them things,
But there’s been times, I swear to God,
You musta had some wings,
An’ He sent you to care for me
Like no one had before.
If you’as a man an’ not a horse,
I couldn’t a-loved you more.

We gave this ranch our sweat an’ blood,
It’s yours as much as mine,
An’ raised our young’uns through the years,
An’ Lord they’re doin’ fine.
They’re blazin’ trails an’ raisin’ dust,
They’re off an’ runnin’ free.
We’ve taught ‘em well an’ made ‘em strong;
Compadre, you an’ me.

I always knew the day would come
When we would fine’ly ride,
To join the Maker’s round-up time,
Up on the Great Divide.
I sorta hoped we’d share the trail
But this was not to be,
So, you go on, we’ll ride again;
Compadre, you an’ me.

Other Cowboy Definition

[n] someone who is reckless or irresponsible (especially in driving vehicles)
[n] a performer who gives exhibitions of riding and roping and bulldogging
[n] a hired hand who tends cattle and performs other duties on horseback


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Misc. Definitions

\Cow"boy`\ (-boi`), n.
1. A cattle herder; a drover; specifically, one of an adventurous class of herders and drovers on the plains of the Western and Southwestern United States.
2. One of the marauders who, in the Revolutionary War infested the neutral ground between the American and British lines, and committed depredations on the Americans.

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