This poem is reprinted with permission from a book of stories and poems written by Wyoming pioneer ranch woman Maude Willford who lived south of Saratoga.
“Over the Hills and Prairies of Wyoming” is the title of the rare book, published in 1963. The author was born in the early 1880s and spent her entire life in the Upper North Platte River Valley.
Westward Ho! By Maude Wenonah Willford
Into the golden West the prairie schooners go
Over the grassy plains and wind swept hills, weary travel and slow.
Mile on mile, hour after hour, to traverse untamed land.
Trek those pioneers of early days, a brave undaunted band.
With every rise and dip of wheels along the dusty way
The great bows, canvas covered, lurch and bend and sway.
White tops, like clouds adrift across the rolling plain
Move onward, one by one, in single file, a covered wagon train.
With lagging steps and heads hung low the weary oxen plod,
Making historic trails upon a virgin sod.
Their awkward hoofs pressed deeply in the river’s glistening sand.
Betrayed their course to the hostile eyes of the Redskin’s roving band.
The coyote howls, the embers glow, the night winds moan and sigh;
The moon covers all with its ghostly light from the arch in the prairie sky.
But the setting sun had twinkled a promise-a-promise to stalwart men,
So with the birth of each rosy mom the wagons roll onward again.
Into the setting sun the covered wagons roll,
But e’er they reach their journey’s end death takes a mighty toll.
In lonely graves along that trail men and women lie at rest.
Who gave their lives that we might live in this great and glorious West!
As we enter this new year of 2014, may we appreciate what it took for the pioneers to build this great country and promise God that we will continue to make this a “great and glorious West.” Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!