.


The Ballad of Yucca Flats
by George Granville Barker

I saw four horsemen riding
Up from the dawn of day;
O no theres no more living
For ever in Nevada.
I heard the first horseman singing
As they rode on their way:
Everyone begins to die
Outward from Nevada.
I heard the second horseman
Lift up his head and say:
O there is nowhere left to hide
In all the sands of Nevada.
And the third horseman looked down
At his red hand of clay:
Amigos, weve come full circle
In the deserts of Nevada.
But the fourth horseman stood up
Silent in his stirrups
Till he saw in the morning sky
The rose of Apocalypse.

. . .
Then the four horsemen rode on
Downward into Death Valley
Where the sun flogs the rocks
Till the sand is bloody.
And the air there turns to salt
And the salt to gravel,
And only that bird overhead
Knows the way to travel.
There the four horsemen
With nothing at all in their bags
Pulled up their palaminoes
And stretched out their dusty legs.
And the brittle lizards scooted
Among the brimstone rocks
And the gilah monsters watched them
With eyes like little clocks.
Then as they sat there, dealing
A hand at the twenty-one,
Out from his belt the first horseman
Slipped his Mexican gun:
Amigos, O amigos,
I think Im through, he cried.
Tell them that Death Valley
Was the place where I died.
And as he lay a-dying,
Cold clay on cold clay,
He whispers: I wish to Christ that
I never saw Nevada.
So with rocks they covered him
And left him like ashes there.
And on they went, the one and two,
Over the back of No-where.
. . .
Next evening as they bivouacked
Under the summer moon
The second horseman spoke: I saw
Himself this afternoon.
And I feel a kind of empty
Space here at my side
Just as though Death Valley
Lay underneath my hide.
Its the red rose of the desert
That marks my parting day -
O never pull the red rose
That blows in Nevada!
And he lay down under the dogstar
Never again to wake
And the rocks around him heard the heart
Like a rock within him break.
Then the last two threw their saddles
Over the stallion backs
And into the west, under the moon,
Rode in their fatal tracks.
Nevada, O Nevada,
Your silver stars look down
And shiver where tomorrow
Brings up a redder dawn.
Then the two horsemen heard the
Terrible train on high
As the engines of Nevada
Rocked the entire sky.
And the fourth horseman turned his
Cold gaze from the west:
This is the spot for us, Jack.
This is the place to rest.
And they lay their heads on their saddles
As if they were praying mats,
And morning, like an exploding rose,
Burst over Yucca Flats.
Then the Angel of Death, that fourth horseman,
Looked from his dead eye:
Jack, says he, O now you know
It aint so hard to die.
It aint so hard to die, Jack,
And every mothers son
One day will sleep beside you here
When all is sad and done.
So haunt the westering desert, Jack,
Haunt it like mirages,
And whisper to Los Alomos that
I pay the wages.
Then that immortal horseman,
Smiled and rode away.
Theres never a day, quoth he, but dawns
Redder in Nevada.