Lost on the Prairie

In one of the States of America, some years ago,
There suddenly came on a violent storm of snow,
Which was nearly the death of a party of workmen,
Who had finished their day’s work – nine or ten of them.

The distance was nearly twenty miles to their camp,
And with the thick falling snow their clothes felt damp,
As they set out for their camp, which was in a large grove,
And to reach it, manfully against the storm they strove.

The wind blew very hard, and the snow was falling fast,
Still, they plodded on, but felt a little downcast,
And the snow fell so fast they could scarcely see,
And they began to think they were lost on the wild prairie.

And they suddenly noticed marks of footsteps in the snow,
Which they found were their own tracks, as onward they did go,
Then they knew they were lost on the great prairie,
And what could they do in such a fearful extremity?

Then their hearts began to sink with woe,
In dread of having to pass the night in the snow,
And they cried, “Oh, God help us to find our way,
Or else we are lost on the lonely prairie.”

And while they stood shivering with the cold,
One of the party a particular horse did behold,
Which was known by the name of Old Jack,
So to take off his bridle they were not slack.

When the horse was let free he threw up his head and tail,
Which seemed to say, “Follow me, and ye will not fail.
So come on, boys, and follow me,
And I’ll guide ye home safely.”

And they cried, “Old Jack can show us the way,
So let’s follow his tracks without dismay”;
And with the falling snow they were chilled to the bone,
But the horse seemed to say, “I’ll show ye home.”

And at last they gave a shout of delight
When they saw their camp fire burning bright,
Which was to them a cheerful sight,
And they caressed Old Jack for guiding them home that night.

And they felt thankful to God for their safety,
And they danced around Old Jack with their hearts full of glee,
And Old Jack became a favourite from that day,
Because he saved them from being lost on the wild prairie.

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Comments (5) »

  1. rachel penney
    In the year 2011, on the 15th day of December at 4:08 am

    Always good for a laugh! Love reading my gem of the day!

  2. dave
    In the year 2012, on the 27th day of January at 6:09 pm

    This is a stotter. I particularly enjoy McG’s wonderful way he can rhyme ‘prairie’ with ‘see’, ‘extremity’, ‘way’, and finally ‘day’. Genius. Dave

  3. Angie T
    In the year 2014, on the 8th day of November at 9:31 pm

    Despite the poem being set in the US of A, I like the way the horse speaks in Scots!

  4. Stephen Midgley
    In the year 2014, on the 9th day of November at 8:35 am

    Isn’t this a case of McGonagall’s horse using the archaic, biblical or Shakespearean ‘ye’ – pronounced ‘yee’ and meaning ‘the plural of you when addressing a group of people’, as in ‘ye are to declare it’ – rather than the short Scots ‘ye’ as in ‘haste ye back’? After all, our poet was a faithful devotee of archaisms, often demonstrating this in the very first word of his lays.

  5. Chris Hunt
    In the year 2014, on the 11th day of November at 3:44 pm

    If you think you’ve got a bad commute, these guys have to walk twenty miles through the snow across a trackless wilderness just to get to work and back. Time for a career change methinks, maybe a novelty horse act?

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