Them stars! Oh, how often I’ve laid on the prairie
And watched them go sweeping around,
My bronco a-dozing beside me, and nary
A breeze nor a whisper of sound!
I’ve learnt the main bunch in the heavenly ranches
There’s Jupiter, Venus, and Mars—
Religion? He don’t know its primary branches
What ain’t been alone with the stars.
Some clusters are branded.— the Dipper, the Lion,
The Eagle, the Sarpent, the Bear
The Horns of the Bull and the Belt of Orion,
And Cassy O’ Whats-her-name’s Chair;
But most of them’s mavericks, roaming the ranges,
Unclaimed in the herds in the sky,
No part of the big panorama that changes,
From winter to summer;— and why?
Well, maybe it’s gospel, or maybe he sold me,
But here is the yard that the Priest,
Chitola, who bosses the Navajos told me
The night of the corn-plantin’ feast:
When all of the mountains were set in their places
And threaded with cañons and rills,
The star-worlds, the last of the mighty creations
Were laying in heaps on the hills
In masses of silver, of gold and of copper,
All polished and shining and new,
Poured out on the granite like corn from the hopper
Awaiting their place in the Blue.
Now, first came the Bear of the Mountains, who faces
The North, from his cave in the scaurs;
He lifted his paws to the heavenly spaces
And laid out his picture in stars.
Then over the peaks of his western dominions
The Eagle who battles the storm,
Flew up to the heavens with star-dusted pinions
And printed the lines of his form.
And next, that the tribes and the nations might wonder
The Buffalo leaped to the sky;
That shag-headed Bison whose beller is thunder,
Emblazoned his image on high.
But now came the Coyote, so crafty and clever,
A scallywag all the way through,
The yap-throated, critical varmint, who never
Is pleased with what other folks do.
Sez he, “These here stars were intended to brighten
The uttermost reaches of Night,
But you fellers waste them in pictures to heighten
Your glory; and that isn’t right!
“Jest watch me!! I’ll show you how stars should be
He jumped in the glittering piles,
He kicked and he gamboled, he danced and he ranted,
He scattered them millions of miles!
So that’s why they glimmer at sixes and sevens,
Stampeded all over the vault
A shame and disgrace to the orderly Heavens;—
It’s all that coyote chap’s fault.
And still you can hear him, the yelping Coyote,
A-mocking the stars in the dim
Of night on the Barrens, with yammerings throaty,
While they look reproachful at him.