To help celebrate, let's visit the 41st entry in our tour of the 50 state poets laureate -- Montana. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, was from the Treasure State. You can learn about her and other famous Montanans at Montana Kids.
Many well-known Native American leaders and writers were born in Montana. One of them is state poet laureate Henry Real Bird, whose primary language is Crow. He is a lifelong educator (currently teaching grades K, 4 and 6 at a tribal school) and a cowboy poet.
Here is Henry Real Bird's poem, "Red Scarf," which honors the beauty of the American West. I loved the gentle musicality of this poem. Hope you enjoy and think of "Red Scarf" while you're watching fireworks tonight.
RED SCARFBoots and chinks
Silver bit and silver spurs
Eased into the dawn
To walk out kinks
Horse like shiny, free of burrs
Trotted into day
I’m ridin’ bay
If you can see the beauty
In the sunset with many colors
I only see the beauty in the sunrise with many colors
You can find me
In the beauty in the sky
In sunrise and sunset
In the shadow of the sky
Among the stars
If you can see the beauty, in the sky
You can find me, in your eye
With a red scarf on
Boots and chinks
Here I am, I’m ridin’ gone
Ground about day
Lookin’ for a stray
Red-tail hawk blessed me with his shadow
Clouds peak to my south
Granite to the west
Sheep Mountains and the Pryors
Look their best
Henry Real Bird's website. Scroll down -- it's the third poem.
May a red-tail hawk bless you with his shadow today.
Henry Real Bird's poems seem like song lyrics to me - I can totally see them being set to music. I love that his first language is Crow. We just spent two weeks in Canada, and I liked how their native peoples were identified (in road signs we would drive by, etc.) as "First Nations."
Tried to leave a comment before (and send you an email before) but the computer and the email are a bit loopy on the road. Hoping this one works! We'll be home Sunday.
Hi, Tabatha. Got it. I'd love to hear about your Canada trip. Yes, I can hear guitar in the background to this one. Hoping to read more soon.
Laura, seems like you enjoy Henry Real Bird as much as me. My only problem seemed to be finding more of his poems & books. I would love to get ahold of more that he's published. If you find anything or know of anything, let me know. Thanks!
Hi, Ben. A bunch of the state poets laureate have a blog. I'll have to look for the post with the link. It might be the one with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. Their site is a good place to start.
Did you link for a link at NPR?
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