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One time, 'way back where the year marks fade,
God said: "I see I must lose my West,
The prettiest part of the world I made,
The place where I've always come to rest,
For the White Man grows till he fights for bread
And he begs and prays for a chance to spread.
"Yet I won't give all of my last retreat;
I'll help him to fight his long trail through,
But I'll keep some land from his field and street
The way that it was when the world was new.
He'll cry for it all, for that's his way,
And yet he may understand some day."
And so, from the painted Bad Lands, 'way
To the sun-beat home of the 'Pache kin,
God stripped some places to sand and clay
And dried up the beds where the streams had been.
He marked His reserves with these plain signs
And stationed His rangers to guard the lines.
Then the White Man came, as the East growed old,
And blazed his trail with the wreck of war.
He riled the rivers to hunt for gold
And found the stuff he was lookin' for;
Then he trampled the Injun trails to ruts
And gashed through the hills with railroad cuts.
He flung out his barb-wire fences wide
And plowed up the ground where the grass was high.
He stripped off the trees from the mountain side
And ground out his ore where the streams run by,
Till last came the cities, with smoke and roar,
And the White Man was feelin' at home once more.
But Barrenness, Loneliness, suchlike things
That gall and grate on the White Man's nerves,
Was the rangers that camped by the bitter springs
And guarded the lines of God's reserves.
So the folks all shy from the desert land,
'Cept mebbe a few that kin understand.
There the world's the same as the day 'twas new,
With the land as clean as the smokeless sky
And never a noise as the years have flew,
But the sound of the warm wind driftin' by;
And there, alone, with the man's world far,
There's a chance to think who you really are.
And over the reach of the desert bare,
When the sun drops low and the day wind stills,
Sometimes you kin almost see Him there,
As He sits alone on the blue-gray hills,
A-thinkin' of things that's beyond our ken
And restin' Himself from the noise of men.
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