ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Badger Clark's "A Cowboy's Prayer"

Updated on December 22, 2017
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Badger Clark



Clark's poem features four riming octets that deliver a ballad of nostalgia while celebrating and offering his gratitude to God for his way of life.

Badger Clark's "A Cowboy's Prayer" offers a prayer that would make any mother proud, as he celebrates his free lifestyle of living on the open range. Each octet stanza features the rime scheme ABABCDCD. This Badger classic was first published in The Pacific Monthly, December 1906.

About this poem/prayer, Katie Lee writes in her classic history of cowboy songs and poems starkly titled Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story, and Verse," "The language is true to his free-roving spirit and gives insight to the code he lived by the things he expected of himself."

First Stanza: Oh Lord, I've never lived where churches grow

The speaker begins his payer by addressing the Lord, telling Him that he has never been one to attend church, because "I've never lived where churches grow." But he admits that he loves creation just as the Lord finished it before mankind began to build things.

The speaker then confides that while others may find the Lord "in the light that is sifted down through tinted window panes," he feels Him near, "In this dim, quiet starlight on the plains." The speaker wants to assure the Divine that despite his absence from houses of worship, he worships without a house while simply stationed out on the open plains created by the Great Creator.

Second Stanza: I thank You, Lord, that I am placed so well

The speaker offers his heartfelt gratitude to the Lord for his blessings, especially that the Lord has made "my freedom so complete." He then catalogues the places where he would not feel so free, places where he would have to heed the call "of whistle, clock or bell."

He asks the Lord to continue blessing him this way: "Just let me live my life as I've begun / And give me work that's open to the sky." He avers that he will not ever be asking "for a life that's soft or high."

Third Stanza: Let me be easy on the man that's down

The speaker then asks for the guidance and wisdom to treat other people with respect and honor. He admits that sometimes he is careless, especially when he is in town. But he asks that he never be mean or small. He wants others to think well of him because he behaves properly.

He asks for three things, honesty, cleanliness, and freedom. Thus, he asks the Lord to make him, "As honest as the hawse between my knees, / Clean as the wind that blows behind the rains, / Free as the hawk that circles down the breeze!"

Fourth Stanza: Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget

Again, he acknowledges that he is not perfect, that at times he forgets proper behavior. He admits that he does not know all that God knows: "You know about the reasons that are hid." And he declares that the Lord knows him "better than my mother did."

So he asks God to guard and guide him by watching over him, and when he misbehaves, he begs the Lord to "right me, sometimes, when I turn aside." He asks God to be with him as he moves "on the long, dim, trail ahead / That stretches up toward the Great Divide". He masterly employs the metaphoric Great Divide to signal the afterworld as well as a great Western geological phenomenon.

Musical version of Clark's "A Cowboy's Prayer" sung by Pete Charles

© 2015 Linda Sue Grimes


Submit a Comment

  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    2 years ago from U.S.A.

    So glad you appreciated my piece. I love cowboy poetry, especially the truly spiritual ones, like this poem by Badger Clark. Thanks for the kind words. Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New New!

  • profile image

    Surabhi Kaura 

    2 years ago

    Hi Dear Linda,

    I haven't heard about him. Thank you for introducing him. He seems to be a spiritual poet. It was nice to read "A Cowboy's Prayer" and your analysis on it. Wise use of words and interpretation. Praise be!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)