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Lyr Add: The Ride of Paul Venarez (Eben E. Rexford

Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Jul 09 - 05:04 PM
Art Thieme 02 Jul 09 - 09:06 PM
Artful Codger 03 Jul 09 - 06:21 AM
Art Thieme 03 Jul 09 - 01:39 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Jul 09 - 02:10 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE RIDE OF PAUL VENAREZ (Eben E. Rexford
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 05:04 PM

Eben E. Rexford 1881, music from Lingenfelter and Dwyer

1. Paul Venarez heard them say, in the frontier town that day,
That a band of Red Plume's warriors was upon the trail of death;
Heard them tell of a murder done: Three men killed at Rocky Run.
"They're in danger up at Crawford's," said Venarez, under breath.

2. "Crawford's"—thirty miles away—was a settlement, that lay
In a green and pleasant valley of the mighty wilderness;
Half a score of homes was there, and in one a maiden fair
Held the heart of Paul Venarez,—"Paul Venarez's little Bess."

3. So no wonder he grew pale when he heard the settler's tale
Of the men he had seen murdered yesterday at Rocky Run.
"Not a soul will dream," he said, "of the danger that's ahead.
By my love for little Bessie, I must see that something's done."

4. Not a moment he delayed when his brave resolve was made.
"Why, my man," his comrades told him, when they knew his daring plan,
"You are going straight to death." But he answered, "Save your breath.
I may fail to get to Crawford's, but I'll do the best I can."

5. O'er the forest trail he sped, and his thoughts flew on ahead
To the little band at Crawford's, thinking not of danger near.
"Oh, God help me save," cried he, "little Bess!" And fast and free,
Trusty Nell bore on the hero of the far-away frontier.

6. Low and lower sank the sun. He drew rein at Rocky Run.
"Here these men met death, my Nellie," and he stroked his horse's mane.
"So will we we go to warn, ere the breaking of the morn.
If we fail, God help us, Nellie!" Then he gave his horse the rein.

7. Sharp and keen a rifle-shot woke the echoes of the spot.
"Oh, my Nellie, I am wounded!" cried Venarez, with a moan,
And the warm blood from his side spurted out in a red tide,
And he trembled in the saddle, and his face had ashy grown.

8. "I will save them yet," he cried. "Bessie Lee shall know I died
For her sake." And then he halted in the shelter of a hill.
From his buckskin shirt he took, with weak hands, a little book;
And he tore a blank leaf from it. "This," said he, "shall be my will."

9. From a branch a twig he broke, and he dipped his pen of oak
In the red blood that was dripping from the wound below the heart.
"Rouse," he wrote, "before too late. Red Plume's warriors lie in wait.
Good-bye, Bess! God bless you always." Then he felt warm tears start.

10. Then he made his message fast, love's first letter, and its last.
To his saddle-bow he tied it, while his lips were white with pain.
"Bear my message, if not me, safe to little Bess," said he.
Then he leaned down in the saddle, and clutched hard the sweaty mane.

11. Just at dusk, a horse of brown, flecked with foam, came panting down
To the settlement at Crawford, and she stopped at Bessie's door.
But her rider seemed asleep. Ah, his slumber was so deep
Bessie's voice could never wake him, if she called forevermore.

12. You will hear the story told by the young and by the old
In the settlement at Crawford's, of the night when Red Plume came;
Of the sharp and bloody fight; how the chief fell, and the flight
Of the panic-stricken warriors. Then they speak Venarez's name

13. In an awed and reverent way, as men utter "Let us pray,"
As we speak the name of heroes, thinking how they lived and died;
So his memory is kept green, while his face and heaven between
Grow the flowers Bessie planted, ere they laid her by his side.

Music is attributed to Larkin 1931, but the music in that book is for "Billy Venero" and different from the musical score printed with "The Ride of Paul Venarez" in Lingenfelter and Dwyer, 1968, "Songs of the American West," 263-264, Univ. California Press.

This poem was the precursor to the several versions of "Billy Venero," in the DT.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Ride of Paul Venarez
From: Art Thieme
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 09:06 PM


Thanks for that. It's about time I read the original!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Ride of Paul Venarez
From: Artful Codger
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 06:21 AM

Something's wonky here, because I'm sure I posted Rexford's original in a thread on Billy Venaro some time ago (in fact, I sent also sent the copy I'd found to Cowboy Poetry, and it may be the one they put on their pages). But both that post and the thread, which gave a lot of background and versions of this song, seem to have vanished.

FWLIW, the version I sing mostly follows the original poem, de-cowdlerized. I use the tune sung by Billie Maxwell, recorded back in 1927(?), with a second section I concockeyed.

This song still chokes me up.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Ride of Paul Venarez
From: Art Thieme
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 01:39 PM

It is a great one---no matter which set of words one decides to use. It made it clear to me that I had to make it part of my repertory.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Ride of Paul Venarez
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 02:10 PM

I was surprised that it didn't show up in a Mudcat search. I found mentions but not the poem.

The story has entered the realm of folk-belief; some people believe that the grave of "Billy Venaro" exists.

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