George Rhoades’ Along the Chisholm Trail and Other Poems is a rather interesting collection of poems, divided into two very distinctive and extremely different parts.
Part One deals with the cowboy life, and life along the Chisholm Trail. The author’s voice here is very distinctive, and the poems encompass all facets of such life, which is definitely epic. As the author put it so well himself:
“No wonder the cowboys rode
Into the hearts and imagination
Of the world, and shaped forever
The endurin’ character of this nation.”
The range of emotions expressed in the poems in Part One is very wide, and the author deals with the subjects with a lot of dignity and respect. It would have been quite easy to depict cowboys as somewhat cartoonish, but that did not happen even in the most light-hearted of the poems in this collection. While this way of life is not familiar to me in the slightest, I greatly enjoyed reading about it.
Part Two is less homogenous, and much more contemporary, and deals with all kinds or ruminations on life, many of which are truly thought provoking. Some are sad, some are wistful, some downright hilarious, and of all of them my favorite happened to be one of the shortest poems in this book. “At Wal-Mart” has barely thirty-something words, yet it perfectly captures so much of what one sees there. While I laughed out loud at first after reading it, I felt compelled to re-read it later, and discovered that it was actually quite serious.
George Rhoades’ Along the Chisholm Trail and Other Poems was quite a departure from what I usually read, but I am glad I took the time to read it. It opened my eyes to a world that was completely new to me, and also reminded me of many everyday things to cherish and remember.