Out Where the West Begins

Photo Courtesy Istockphoto?/ Doug Berry

Out where the handclasp’s a little stronger,
Out where the smile dwells a little longer,
That’s where the West begins;
Out where the sun is a little brighter,
Where the snows that fall are a trifle whiter,
Where the bonds of home are a wee bit tighter,
That’s where the West begins.
Out where the skies are a trifle bluer,
Out where friendship’s a little truer,
That’s where the West begins;
Out where a fresher breeze is blowing,
Where there’s laughter in every streamlet flowing,
Where there’s more of reaping and less of sowing,
That’s where the West begins.
Out where the world is in the making,
Where fewer hearts in despair are aching,
That’s where the West begins;
Where there’s more of singing and less of sighing,
Where there’s more of giving and less of buying,
And a man makes friends without half trying —
That’s where the West begins.

Excerpt from Out Where the West Begins, by Arthur Chapman, 1917

Editor’s note:
Perhaps few western poems are more widely known than Arthur Chapman’s Out Where the West Begins.
Legend has it that Chapman (1873 – 1935) wrote the poem in 1912 for his Center Shots column in The Denver Republican when the Western states’ governors were arguing about where the West begins. He considered it too trifling to copyright and he was amazed at the attention it received. Over the last 99 years since it was written, it has been parodied — a lot — and set to music. Special thanks to Bar D Ranch cowboy poetry for their research on this literary treasure.