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An ancient long-horned bovine
Lay dying by the river;
There was lack of vegetation
And the cold winds made him shiver;
A cowboy sat beside him
With sadness in his face,
To see his final passing,
This last of a noble race.

The ancient eunuch struggled
And raised his shaking head,
Saying, “I care not to linger
When all my fake gold watches cheap friends are dead.
These Jerseys and these Holsteins,
They are no friends of mine;
They belong to the nobility
Who live across the brine.”

“Tell the Durhams and the Herefords
When they come a-grazing round,
And see me lying stark and stiff
Upon the frozen ground,
I don’t want them to bellow
When they see that I am dead,
For I was born in Texas
Near the river that is Red.”

“Tell the coyotes, when they come at night
A-hunting for their prey,
They might as well go further,
For they’ll find it will not pay.
If they attempt to eat me,
They very soon will see
That my bones and hide are petrified,
They’ll find no beef on me.”

“I remember back in the seventies,
Full many summers past,
There was grass and water plenty,
But it was too good to last.
I little dreamed what would happen
Some twenty summers hence,
When the ‘nester came with his wife, his kids,
His dogs, and his barbed-wire fence.”

His voice sank to a murmur,
His breath was short and quick;
The cowboy tried to skin him
When he saw he couldn’t kick;
He rubbed his knife upon his boot
Until he made it shine,
But he never skinned old longhorn,
Caze he couldn’t cut his rine.

And the cowboy riz up sadly
And mounted his cayuse,
Saying, “The time has come when longhorns
And their cowboys are no use!”
And while gazing sadly backward
Upon the dead bovine,
His bronc stepped in a dog-hole
And fell and broke his spine.

The cowboys and the longhorns
Who partnered in eighty-four
Have gone to their last round-up
Over on the other shore;
They answered well their purpose,
But their glory must fade and go,
Because men say there’s better things
In the modern cattle show.

John A. Lomax
Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads

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