Last night, during the first performance of the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, Waddie Mitchell debuted the poem he wrote in celebration of the state’s 150th anniversary of statehood. A native Nevadan, Mitchell was named the Honorary Poet of the Silver State’s Sesquicentennial. Below is an excerpt from last night and the full poem further down the page.

Dame Nevada

by Waddie Mitchell

There’s a basin, wrought of reason,

tortoise dry and clean of air

Where rivers hike to meet their fate,

get lost and disappear

Where Grand Adventure had a say

and different would prevail

And where only hardy life hangs on

to all the it entails

Where hidden hints of Eden

are revealed to those who seek

And where Bristlecone stand sentinel

from high atop her peaks

Where the Shoshone and the Paiute

and the Washo stories tell;

If we but live within Her wishes,

we will prosper and live well

Deemed and destined Dame Nevada,

cloaked in sage and sunset crowned

Making sense and friends and legends,

turning prudence upside down

She eludes to and may prove to be enigma in disguise

Dealing wisdom and compassion,

still, refusing compromise

She’s the rugged scent of essence

and immense in scope and feel

Mountainous and rightly stubborn,

cold and sensuous and real

Open minded and closed fisted

and diverse in all she’s of

And, as tight with her resources

as she’s liberal with her love

And She settled hardy settlers,

and She dished prospectors ore

And She was booming as the U.S.

fought it’s most un-Civil War

And when there’s have and needed

bureaucratic tape gets cleared

So, She’s flown the flat of statehood now, one hundred fifty years

And as stewards of Her masterpiece,

the standards been set high,

Be protective and responsive to Her needs and feed Her pride

And as Nevadans, we should not forget what native stories tell;

If we but live within her wishes, we will prosper and live well.

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