Till the Air with Smoke is Blue

Image from mt.gov — More about: Montana Governor William Elmer Holt


Governor Elmer Holt has been asked to be godfather to a baby to be born in Germany in May, has been asked to find a wife for a California soldier with a bonus, and now he has invoked the poetic genius of a Colorado cowboy who wants to dedicate a poem to him.

The governor received a letter yesterday from Victor Rylatt of Maybell, Colorado, who some years ago “spent a happy summer” in Montana.

Enclosed in the letter was a bit of western verse which the poet wondered “could be dedicated to you?”

Here it is:

Let a broke, but handsome cowboy on the trail
Meet a rancher’s daughter going for the mail.
Let her tell him how some bad men
Plan to rob and kill her dad, when
He takes his herd of cattle down for sale.
Let the cowboy saddle up at early dawn,
And salute the rising sun with saddle horn.
Then behind a butte take shelter,
For some hours to smoke and swelter
Till the air with smoke is blue, travel worn.

When the wildly riding rustlers all attack,
And the bullets all around him go ‘kersmack,’
Let him wipe out all the crew
Til the air with smoke is blue.
Then gather up their weapons in a sack.
Let us finish with a chapter that encharms
‘Twill be pleasing change from war’s alarm;
As beneath his huge sombrero,
Our deadly shooting hero
Takes the shy, but willing maiden in his arms.

The Helena Independent (Helena, Montana) Mar 3, 1936

Note: Victor Rylatt was born in 1884, England. He migrated first to Canada (not sure when) then came to the United States by way of Michigan in 1913.  His planned destination on his border crossing document was Milwaukee, WI. In 1920 he was on a farm in Nebraska, and in 1930 Colorado. It doesn’t appear he ever found his “rancher’s daughter,”  as he is listed as single on the census records as well as his naturalization record.

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