Something to Live By

The following poem is something I found in a barn many years ago on a feed sack. I tore it off and have since found the poem in various places; sometimes it was signed anonymous. In 1954, it was published in Songs of the Saddlemen by S. Omar Barker.

They are still appropriate rules to live by.

It don’t take such a lot of laws
To keep the rangeland straight,
Nor books to write ‘em in, because
There’s only six or eight.
The first one is the welcome sign –
True brand of western hearts:
“My camp is yours an’ yours is mine,”
In all cow country parts.

Treat with respect all womankind,
Same as you would your sister.
Take care of neighbors’ strays you find,
And don’t call cowboys “mister.”
Shut pasture gates when passin’ through;
An’ takin’ all in all,
Be just as rough as pleases you,
But never mean nor small.

Talk straight, shoot straight, and never break
Your word to man nor boss.
Plumb always kill a rattlesnake.
Don’t ride a sorebacked hoss.
It don’t take law nor pedigree
To live the best you can!
These few is all it takes to be
A cowboy – and a man!

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