This announces the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the end of this month in Elko, Nevada. I don’t know anything about it, but it sounds as though it might be good. What is cowboy poetry? I don’t know, but I was recently reminded of a line from a San Peckinpah film, Ride the High Country, that I think is fine. Two old lawmen, whose time is past, are hired to take gold from a mine to the town. One of them is tempted to forget about the old morality, and tries to persuade the other to steal the loot (The actors are Joel McRae and Randolph Scott). They would become rich and live out their last days in luxury. Randolph Scott tries to persuade McRae to steel, and says: "What’s on the back of a poor man when he dies? The clothes of pride. And they’re not any warmer to him than when he was alive. Is that all you want, Steve?" Joel McRae replies: "All I want is to enter my house justified."
A nice by essay by John Marini entitled, "Western Justice: John Ford and Sam Peckinpah on the Defense of the Heroic," reminded me of this great scene. It is to be found in the just published book, The California Republic, edited by Brian P. Janiskee and Ken Masugi. There are other fine essays in the volume; very much worth a look.