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Delia Gist Gardner (1900-1990) staked her own Arizona homestead at age 18. Later she married Gail I. Gardner, the author of "The Sierry Petes" and other poems, and for many years the postmaster of Prescott.

A biography at the Sharlot Hall Museum quotes Gail Gardner, "I found a girl who was worth a whole herd of Broadway stars... so before she could get away I married her." "I got breakfast," Gail recalled on tape, "for 40 years, as long as I could see... Just breakfast, you know. I'd get up and know what I wanted. Delia and I lived on the ranch for 11 years. I'd get up and get my own breakfast... her breakfast, too."


photo courtesy of Gail Steiger
Gail and Delia Gist Gardner on their 50th wedding anniversary.

Delia Gist Gardner's poem, "Hail and Farwell," recited by her grandson, Gail Steiger, is included on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two.

In the notes to his CD The Romance of Western Life, which includes the poem, Gail Steiger writes:

My grandmother homesteaded a section of ground in 1917. She built a cabin by herself, pretty much, and lived there till she met my grandfather, Gail Gardner. He wrote a bunch of poems, and he'd perform them at the drop of a hat. People were always coming by to be entertained, and Granny probably listened to Papa tell his poems a million times each. She always just smiled and nodded along. We found this one she'd written hidden away in her stuff after she died.

The anthology, Cowgirl Poetry, also includes "Hail and Farewell," along with this comment, "Reflection from a cabin in Skull Valley, Arizona, over an old Indian camping ground, about 1945."

Read the poem below.

 

Delia Gist Gardner's moving poem, “Hail and Farewell,” is delivered in a singular performance by Gail Steiger, songwriter, filmmaker, rancher, and her grandson on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two.

"The Sierry Petes (or Tying Knots in the Devil's Tail)" by Delia Gist Gardner's husband, Gail I. Gardner, recited by the late J. B Allen, is also featured on the 2007 CD, The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two.

Gail Steiger recited the poem on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor on January 19, 2013.



 

 

Hail and Farewell

Think not on my brittle bones mingling with dust, for
These
Are but a handful added
To those gone before.
Think, rather, that on this borrowed hilltop
One lived joyously, and died content.

In this dark soil
I found reminders, saying:
"You, too, will pass; savor for us
The wind and the sun."

From the smoke-blackened earth
I dug
A frail shell bracelet, shaped lovingly, skillfully,
For a brown skinned wrist, now dust.
The broken piece of clay
Was a doll's foot and leg, artfully curved ,
Made for brown-eyed child.

Pottery shards saying:
"Yours for a little time only
Take delight in this, as we did."

The tree will die; the vine wither and rattle in the wind.
For I broke a law of Nature.
I carried the water to the hilltop. Nevertheless,
For those after me there will be
These things I have loved:

Morning sun rays, slanting across the hilltop,
Lighting the great trees in the green meadow.
Wind, the great blue sky,
Peace of the encircling hills
And flaming glow of sunset.

© Delia Gist Gardner, reprinted with permission
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

 

In January, 2013, Gail Steiger shared an image of the original poem:

 


photo courtesy of Gail Steiger
Delia Gist Gardner


photo courtesy of Gail Steiger
Delia Gist Gardner

 

 

 

 

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