- In a while the grass'll grow upon yer rendered mound.
- Till some day on yer moldered grave a lonely flower is found.
- And say a hoss should wander by and graze upon this flower
- that once wuz you, but now's become yer vegetative bower.
- The posey that the hoss done ate up, with his other feed,
- makes bone, and fat, and muscle essential to the steed.
- But some is left that he can't use and so it passes through
- and finally layz upon the ground, this thing that once wuz you.
- Then say, by chance, I wanders by and sees this upon the ground,
- and I ponders, and I wonders at this object that I found.
- I thinks of reincarnation, of life, and death, and such,
- and come away concludin': Slim, you ain't changed all that much.
I am not sure that I still have a fascination with this poem because it amuses or bothers me. Perhaps a little of both. The simple fact that a person could almost picture the stereotypical cowboy perched on his horse, scratching this poem out with a nub of a pencil while glancing down at Slim's freshly covered grave. I can almost see him chewing idly on a blade of grass or perhaps the pencil as he considers his next bit, allowing himself a chance to grieve while maintaining a philosophical perspective with a twist of humor to help it all go down more smoothly than it might otherwise.
If you want to read more about Wallace McRae, I think this article in the Montana State University magazine would serve you well. This poem is probably the one he is best known for, though it is not, according to more than one source, his favorite by any stretch. And, that doesn't surprise me in the least.
I am not a cowboy, nor do I have any real experience on a Montana ranch. I can, at best, extrapolate my own experiences on our farm, but I am sure it isn't the same. Therefore, I, and most anyone else, fall back on the stereotype. And, because there is humor, irony, truth and sadness all bound up into this poem we grab it and share it. And, by sharing it, we perpetuate the myth and stereotype. Then we attach that myth/stereotype to Mr. McRae.
This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder what others might have connected to me. I am only curious because I am fairly certain they won't be something I would have picked myself.
Even after I learned more about Wallace McRae, I find myself liking the poem even more. Why? Because, he shows great skill in building a picture and a story with which I can relate. Even if I relate to the details without full understanding, I can still connect with the feelings.
Well, I guess I'll just mosie along now.