‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ by Vachel Lindsay

The flower-fed buffaloes of the spring

In the days of long ago,

Ranged where the locomotives sing

And the prairie flowers lie low: –

The tossing, blooming, perfumed grass

Is swept away by the wheat,

Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by

In the spring that still is sweet.

But the flower-fed buffaloes of the spring

Left us, long ago.

They gore no more, they bellow no more,

They trundle around the hills no more: –

With the Blackfeet, lying low,

With the Pawnees, lying low,

Lying low.

Blackfeet /Pawnees: Native American Tribes


48 thoughts on “‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ by Vachel Lindsay

  1. Vachel Lindsay was born in 1879 in Illinois, USA. He often sold
    his poetry on the streets and made long walking expeditions,
    trading his poetry on the way in exchange for food and lodging.
    As his poetry was often known for its experimentation with
    sound and as he often gave recitals, it is worthwhile listening to old
    recordings of his poetry which are accessible on the internet. (http://tinyurl.com/28hnxu7)

    Line 1: It is hard to estimate how many buffalo once roamed
    North America but it is thought that there would have been between 30 and 75 million.
    By the time Lindsay was writing there were about 300.
    Line 3: the first railroad in the area was the Illinois and Central Railroad chartered in
    1851. The construction of the railroad hastened the depletion of the buffaloes.
    Shooting the beast from the windows of the railroad by passengers was popular and
    widely advertised.
    Line 14: Blackfeet and Pawnees are two American native tribes.
    The population of the Pawnees in the early nineteenth century was about
    twenty to twenty-five thousand, but it declined rapidly in the later part of the
    nineteenth century mostly because of smallpox and cholera, but also through
    falling prey to traditional enemies.

    a. Explain the impact of repetition in this poem.
    b. How are different emotional responses to natural and man-made things on
    the prairie stimulated by the poet?
    c. Which of these words best describes the whole poem: pretty; strange; antiprogress;
    threatening; nostalgic; neutral? Explain.

  2. “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes” is very effective in showing people the changes nature have been going through from the past to the present. In the first four lines the poet basically explains/let us know how things have been disappearing, after explaining how that place used to be, then we understand why things have been changing drastically. In the end he reinforces his message of modernization taking over antiquity. In my opinion, this poem makes the reader realize what has been happening lately in the world; people just want to have all the modern stuff and they don’t even try to keep or remember things/symbols that represent our past; they think they are just too “cool” for that. The way the poet expresses this, is by giving brief descriptions of what nature used to be before, and slowly describes the changes we are going through. He finishes the poem using the phrase “lying low”, which reinforces and make us realized how badly we are destroying the world, along with the disappearance of the buffaloes and the American native tribes. After reading the poem, we also remember that time goes by really fast, and that we have to enjoy what we have as much as we can, because one day, everything we have is no longer going to be seen, things will leave and there will be nothing we can do. As days, hours, minutes and seconds pass by, we should all try or at least think about conserving things around us for a little longer, remember that time will be gone and we can’t go back. We have to enjoy and take care of what we have!

  3. ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ is a poem about the modernization of the world. The poet explains how things used to be. In the first line “The flower-fed buffaloes of the spring,” the poet creates a nice picture of buffaloes, eating flowers in a huge field, but then he says “In the days of long ago”, which makes the reader stop and think. ‘What happened to the buffaloes?’ When the poet says “wheels and wheels and wheels spin by” he is referring to the new way of transportation. This symbolizes that the ‘new time’ has come. The poet also uses the long ‘e’ sound, making the reader imagine the unpleasant sound of an old wheel. This makes the poets side of this case clear, that the ‘old times’ were better. By looking at the repetition of “lying low” we get the understanding that the buffaloes are gone, but not completely. They are just ‘hiding’. The can still come back, but not before humanity takes some tremendous steps towards changing our ways of living.

  4. The poem “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes” by Vachel Lindsay is about the extinction of the buffalos and the Indians during in the 1900’s by the modernization and technology that humans have created. In the beginning of the poem, the poet talks about how the buffaloes roamed around the beautiful prairie and the natural environment. This optimistic and delightful atmosphere is interrupted by the phrase “But the flower-fed buffalos left us long ago.” In the last 5 lines of the poem, the author is describing how the buffaloes and Indians have vanished from the fields forever, leaving the prairie empty and lifeless with only human technology remaining on the fields. The poet has given us a message about how the modernization of the world has erased the old and replaced it with the new.
    The poet conveys this feeling by rhyming, repetition of words and sounds. In the line, “Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by,” the poet purposely does this to create a sound that is similar to trains relentlessly passing by using the long ‘e’ sound. In the end of the poem, the author deliberately uses the phrase ‘lying low’ in end of each line to make the poem more pessimistic as each time the phrase is mentioned. It makes it pessimistic because in the past, the buffaloes had been roaming the fields with happiness and joy but has ended by the improvement of the machines. By saying ‘lying low’, is gives us perhaps like an ending or finalization of the buffaloes, as well as the Indians.

  5. It sets the scene for the nature of the poem which is sad that the buffaloes have now left the land because humans have driven them away. The start of the poem tells us that what it was like years ago when the buffaloes were still around. The middle of the poem explains why the buffaloes have gone, because humans have replaced the land with farmland for wheat, and built railways over it too. The end is about the past again, stating the things that they won’t be able to do any more in their absence. The image of the ‘flower-fed buffalo’ is symbolic of the end of a culture that maintains the balance between man and nature; the symbiotic relationship between the environment humans. It echoes the emergence of new era of the consumer mentality which makes no provision for replenishing the natural resources of the land. The ‘wheels’ eat up the land, the ‘locomotive’ symbolizing technology has replaced the buffalo and a people, race and culture is suppressed and stampeded into the silence of survival.

  6. The poem “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes” by Vachel Lindsay talks about how the nature is changing because of time passing and talks about modernisation happening. The poet conveys his message by telling us how the change happens and telling us the difference between the past and present. She talks about the place where a lot of buffaloes stayed in the spring, which then changed to where locomotives now are, by writing “The flower-fed buffaloes of the spring” and “Ranged where the locomotives sing”, which suggests that the time of the past passed and now it is time for modernisation to take place. Vachel Lindsay tells us how the grass that once was eaten by buffaloes turned into wheat by writing “The tossing, blooming, perfumed grass” and “Is swept away by the wheat”, which reinforces the idea of development and time passing. She also writes “Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by”, which has a repetition of a vowel ‘e’ which tells us that everything goes forward and time never stops. In the end of the poem the poet, Vachel Lindsay, writes “With the Blackfeet, lying low”, “With the Pawnees, lying low” and “Lying low”, this proposes the idea of time passing and as development starts to happen the Native American Tribes are disappearing with the buffaloes, which cannot stay here no more as their natural environment disappears.

  7. From Cara

    ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ is a springy, sweet, flowery poem about the buffaloes which used to run free. The poet, Vachel Lindsay, conveys his message of buffaloes and American Native Indians disappearing by using alliteration and assonance. The alliteration, using an ‘f’ sound, makes the buffaloes sound fat, fluffy, sweet, strong and nourished. The ‘s’ sound makes the poem sound sweet, springy, soulful, soft and slightly summery. The ‘l’ sound makes the repeated phrase ‘Lying low’ sound even more worrying that the buffaloes and other natural, domestic plants and animals are slowly disappearing. The ‘w’ sound makes the idea of modernisation is coming with the wind and nature is going with the wind. In the same line, there is assonance. ‘Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by’, this assonance conjures images of human inventions and industrialisation, wheels spinning and time going by and progressing.

    1. Clear and concise -your commentary on the effects of language is good-you have successfully used your notes in class, creating an original response.

  8. “Flower-Fed Buffaloes” by Vachel Lindsay
    “The Flower-fed Buffaloes” is a poem about the effects of the British Empire expanding to America. It shows us what happens to the world when modernization takes place. All we want is technology, so nature, at the same time, is fading away since it is not appreciated anymore. Technology distracts us from the real world. Vachel Lindsay wants to wake us up, and bring us back to reality, as well as, show us what we have done to the world. The poem itself is a timeline of the effects of the coming of civilization. The poet seems to have a real passion towards nature, since he focuses mainly on the untouched wild nature which won’t last for much longer. He starts out when North America was filled with wild animals and populated only by the American Indians or the aboriginals. The writer starts it off with these two lines: “The Flower-fed buffaloes of the spring, In the days of long ago,” The poet then introduces the British migrants by mentioning the old mode of transport, “Ranged where the locomotives sing”. That marks the time when the British started a new civilization in the now called U.S.A. They started to develop a more modern society. It clearly shows that the machinery is taking over the gifts of the world, in this case the powerful buffaloes that used to stampede through the valleys and fields of Northern America. The aboriginals could refer to this as the coming of civilization. The poet then goes on to the point where most of the nature has gone including the buffaloes. “But the flower-fed buffaloes of the spring left us, long ago.” The main reason why the buffaloes have left is because there is no more grass for them to consume, since its replaced by wheat. The human race has chased them away. Towards the end of the poem, the poet adds a sense of humiliation upon the tribes for not being able to protect their grounds.

    The poet conveys his message by using alliteration, assonance and repetition to furthermore express his feelings. Here is a perfect example of assonance, “Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by”. The poet uses the long ‘e’ sound to give the reader a sense of time passing by quickly, and since the wheel is a symbol of movement, progress and the future, it could at the same time represent the rapid development of a civilization. In the beginning of the poem, the poet mentions, “The flower-fed buffaloes of the spring,” if you read this line over and over again, you will notice that there are a lot of F’s. The repeated F sounds give the buffaloes a fluffy and fat feeling to them. This is an example of a successful attempt at alliteration. It adds more emotion, depth and feelings to the poem. Towards the end of the poem, the poet mentions lying low three times. “With the Blackfeet, lying low, With the Pawnees lying low, Lying low.” We think it is to add a sense of humiliation upon the different tribes. It could also reinforce the idea of the disappearance of the tribes. The poet also creates a rhythm and a flow by rhyming some of the lines together, and as you know, this makes it much more enjoyable to read. My favorite couples of lines are, “The tossing, blooming, perfumed grass, Is swept away by the wheat.” The point that the writer is trying to make is that, the wild, fun, colourful grass is replaced by rows of organized wheat. I think the poet has successfully reached his goal and has expressed his feelings clearly to the audience.

    1. By far and away your best response, Brian as it is detailed and show developing sophistication in analysis. I like the historical relevance to the poem, though it’s not entirely accurate-following the War of Independence the present day USA broke away from the British Empire, which occurred quite sometime before Lindsay was born. Indeed the poem is about modernization and the expansion and farming of the wilderness. This happened in Lindsay’s time as people, in their pioneering spirit, moved from the east to the west, taking over the land (often taking it away from the aboriginal owners) all in the name of progress. You do discuss language really well and the effects. Well done.

  9. “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes” by Vachel Lindsay, indirectly talks about a modernization of a nature using buffalo as a writing material. He mentions how it was in old times at the beginning and then how it became after modernization. There are some repetitions that emphasizes this idea, such as line 11 and 12, “…no more”. This gives a reader an idea that the poet misses the old times where there were many buffaloes. There is another repetition on line 13 to 15, “…lying low”.

  10. Nick Han
    What is the poem about and how does the poet convey his/her message? (Flower-Fed Buffaloes)

    The poem ‘Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ written by Vachel Lindsay is a poem that is written in means of mentioning to the readers about the modernization of the world. In this poem in particular he talks about modernization in the U.S.A. This poem is looking more at the negative side of modernization because of the fact that this poem is talking about the disappearance of the buffaloes and the Native American tribes. The poet conveys this message by using the poetic tool; repetition and assonance. In line seven of the poem ‘Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by’ Vachel Lindsay uses the assonance of the vowel ‘e’ sounds. This emphasizes the point that modernization is occurring at that time and is about to continue or get worse. Another evidence from the poem that conveys the poets message is line 13-15, which is ‘With the Blackfeet, lying low’, ‘With the Pawnees, lying low’, ‘Lying low’. The alliteration of the constant ‘l’ reinforces the idea that the Natives are slowly but surely disappearing. These lines also gives us another message, which is that with the repetition of ‘lying low’ the poet emphasizes the point and makes the subject more serious about the vanishing of the buffaloes and the Native Indian tribes. Also the last ‘Lying low’ in lines 13-15 also suggests that the lying low is the disappearance of both buffaloes and the Natives in contrast to lines 13-14 where they are talking about a specific tribe lying low. Similarly, lines 11-12 also makes the same type of expression, but the only difference now is that it is mainly focusing on buffaloes instead of the Native American tribes. These are the ways that the poet conveys his message through the poem.

  11. “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes” by Vachel Lindsay, indirectly talks about a modernization of a nature using buffalo as a writing material. With the line, “The flower-fed buffaloes of the spring”, the poet starts on how North America was before the modernization. However, on the second line, “In the days of long ago” gives the reader a hint that it has changed a lot. “The tossing, blooming, perfumed grass, Is swept away by the wheat” tells us that the agriculture development depleted the amount of buffaloes drastically. In my opinion, the poet has successfully written this poem sending his idea by many effects he used. For instance, repetition is used for “wheels and wheels and wheels spin by”, “They gore no more, they bellow no more, They trundle around the hills no more” and “With the Blackfeet lying low, With the Pawnees lying low. Lying low”. Out of these, “Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by” gives an atmosphere of the writer missing those old days. On line 10, “Left us, Long ago” is critical because when the reader takes a breath and read this line, it gives an internal idea that buffaloes are depleted so the writer is unwilling about it. Also on the last three lines that ends with “lying low” provides readers a sorrow about the Indians tributes disappearing by the modernization such as railroads and agriculture development. Therefore, I think the poet successfully conveyed his idea.

  12. The poem “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes” by Vachel Linsday is about the modernization of the world. Its main message is that in the early 1900s, Buffaloes and Native American Tribes were near extinction, caused by the coming of modernization. It explains how the modernization of the world has not necessarily only done good to the world that the coming of modernization also destroyed and made us forget of all the beautiful things that were before. The poet conveys his message by first painting an image in the reader’s head of a peaceful, natural environment, of buffaloes feeding on a wild, blooming field of grass. The poet then goes on stating that the “tossing, blooming, perfumed grass” on which the buffaloes used to feed “is swept away by the wheat”, which means the natural environment was changed by the coming of civilization, therefor also humans, who simply replaced it with wheat. The poet explains the coming of civilization by stating “wheels and wheels and wheels spin by”. This could refer to two things. First, it could refer that the wheels represent time, and while the wheels, so time, spins by, so does the modernization. Second, the wheels could simply be a locomotive, which was a huge invention in the early 1900s. By each time the wheels of the locomotive spin by, more modernization enters the peaceful lands and changes it. The poet ends the poem by stating that “the flower-fed buffaloes of the spring left us long ago”, and that they “gore now more, bellow no more” and that they “trundle around the hills anymore”. With his the poet wants to state that the buffaloes are basically extinct. Near the end of the poem, the poet also reminds us that the modernization not only effected the natural environment and animals, but also the Native American tribes. The poem states that they are “lying low”, which, same as with the buffaloes, means that they are near extinction.

    1. This is fabulous Alex -I love how you use your historical nature here, Mr History Man!!! A very sophisticated response!! I love reading this! Well done!

  13. ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ by Vachel Lindsay is a significant poem about new arrivals on an unknown land, where the people brought change to the land owned by the mysterious and beautiful buffaloes, and the Native Tribes who were naturally born to be there. The poet also talks about the people’s insatiable need. In lines five and seven, ‘Ranged where the locomotives sing’ and ‘Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by’, shows that wheels spinning by is also a significance of time passing by, and the new technology that was slowly starting to develop. The poet also describes how the nature is ruined by saying ‘The tossing, blooming, perfumed grass, is swept away by the wheat’. The main idea of the poem talks about interrupting and disturbing the nature, and once the natural beauty is ruined, it will be lost for a long time. It can take just one moment for people to ruin what can take decades to get back, at least part of it. The sadness of the poem is truly felt through the words ‘Left us, long ago’, which refers to the flower-fed buffaloes seen in the spring. Also, the image of the flower-fed buffaloes is the symbol and the end of an era that before was maintaining the balance between the man and the nature, also like a symbiotic (a perfect match) relation between them. ‘They gore no more, they bellow no more’ describes the lost echoes of the last buffaloes, which left behind a killed nature and left a profound silence.

    The author conveys his message by using a musical alliteration through words like ‘Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by’, and ‘Flower-fed buffaloes’. Lindsay tries to make us understand that the poem is also like a timeline. In the beginning sentences, the poet talks about the new-born buffaloes in the spring, which transformed into mature buffaloes trundling around and then slowly at the end, the poet expresses her sadness about the buffaloes and Native Tribe’s extinction. Lindsay uses alliteration to give the sentence a soft, lyrical sound, which makes believe that the buffaloes are soft, perishable.

    1. I am very very pleased with you!!! 🙂 You are churning out great stuff and I am going to be so sad to loose you! You are making exceptional progess.

  14. “Flower-Fed Buffaloes” is a poem about the coming of modernization and the disappearance of raw, beautiful nature. The poem starts off with the line “The flower-fed buffaloes of the spring.” After reading this, the reader usually gets an image of a wide open, vast field with a variety of different plant life and some large, hairy buffaloes happily feeding on the flowers that grow. But as the poem goes on, the reader finds out the sad truth, which is that the buffaloes, and the beautiful nature, have all been replaced by new modernized technology. This is especially apparent when the poet says “The tossing, blooming, perfumed grass is swept away by the wheat.” This means that the once wild, free grass on the open field is replaced by man-made wheat farms all in organized rows. Also, right after that, the poet says “Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by.” This represents the relentless movement of modernization replacing everything without a second thought. Towards the end of the poem, the poet repeats the words “Lying low” three times to reinforce the idea that the life that once lived, has disappeared due to the coming of modernization. The poet also uses assonance. Again in the line “Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by” The poet repeats the “e” sound to perhaps make it feel longer then it really is therefore, making it seem like modernization will never stop and the past will have to be forgotten.

    1. Awesome Brian, you have really tackled this one exceptionally well-it is detailed and thoughtful, but most importantly mature in expression. Well done. It rocks.

  15. Vachel Lindsay (November 10, 1879 – December 5, 1931) was an American poet and he is the person who wrote ‘The Flower Fed Buffaloes.’ The Flower Fed Buffaloes is superior poem that there are so many good meaningful words in this poem. This poem is capricious because it starts in very happy mood and suddenly it goes to sad mood.

    Lines like ‘tossing, blooming, perfumed grass’ is described wonderfully by adding the verbs. Also, sentence ‘Lying low’ can have lots of different meaning, but it still give us sad, despair, mad, and anger. In the poem there is the line ’ wheels and wheels and wheels spin by’ and the word ’wheels ‘are metaphor for this poem, and this sentence makes reader imagine past, present, future by mentioning three times. Also, this sentence makes the poem much more mysterious.

    1. Vicky you have identified the tone/mood of the poem quite well, and you attempt to discuss the language. Perhaps you needed to have considered the main message of the poem -what is the poet describing/commenting on? Careful attention to editing is still required.

  16. The Flower-Fed Buffaloes is a poem about how the humans, in the 1900s modernised the prairie fields, causing the population of the Native American tribes, along with the buffaloes to be decimated. As with the saying ‘too much of a good thing is bad’, because with the modernisation, came the introduction of machines such as tractors, which removed the food sources of the buffaloes and native tribes, driving them out of the prairie fields, causing them to be “lying low. The poet first shows how the prairie land looked before the humans took over. Then, he writes that “the tossing, blooming, perfumed grass, is swept away by the wheat”, which shows how the beautiful landscape of grasses, are levelled, and replaced by the wheat, which the farmers back then grew. The poet uses assonance when he writes “wheels and wheels and wheels spin by”. Also, by repeating the word wheels, it paints a picture in our minds of a train and its wheels spinning round and round and round, which was a major innovation in the 90s, and helped move goods around much faster than horse drawn carriages back then.
    The poet writes that the buffaloes “trundle around the hills no more” showing that the buffaloes have been driven out of their natural habitat, where they used to graze around the hills aimlessly. He also mentions the Blackfeet and Pawnees tribe “lying low”. This could either mean that they were lying low, which could mean hiding from the foreign “invaders”, or that their numbers are low, and that their population is nearing extinction. Overall, the poem is a gives a negative view of modernisation and the invasion of foreign people, which disrupts the circle of life, and the end to an era where man and mother nature once lived peaceful harmony.

    1. An intelligent response Clarence which is detailed and thoughtful. I like how you keep close to the language in the poem whilst considering the broader themes. Well done.

  17. The poem “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes” by lindsay, has a real disappearance. The poet states the beauty of buffaloes back in time, however they have disappeared over time. Hd uses repetition of the word “wheels, lying low , and no more” which gives a sense of dissapearing over time, as well as giving a calm feeling of meditation at the same time.

    1. Daniel this is really a little too brief, and it would be fair to say that you are really not saying much at all, here. I know the ‘wheels and wheels ‘ line is your favourite -could you have said more about it?

  18. The poem “Flower-Fed” Buffaloes is a quiet meditation upon the disappearance of indigenous American tribes and the buffaloes. It’s about modernization coming into our lives steadily, replacing important parts of it, and continuously doing so. The poet, Vachel Lindsay, conveys this message by giving us quite obvious examples of locomotives and ‘wheels and wheels and wheels’ spinning by on land where ‘tossing, blooming, perfumed grass’ used to grow on the fields, and buffaloes used to feed. The goring, bellowing, trundling sounds have been replaced by the din railway.There are no exclamation marks and no strong statements throughout the whole poem, yet the message is clear and delivers a very nostalgic mood to the reader. This is achieved by firstly describing the quiet fields, secondly by repeating ‘lying low’ three times in the last three lines of the poem. The poet mentions the results of modernization – railway lines and locomotives, which represent a huge breakthrough in transportation, meaning people could travel much faster to different places. He then mentions that this cost the loss of the Blackfeet and the Pawnees. The main point that the poet conveys is – development isn’t always progress.

    1. Clear, concise and precise-you reinforce what the poet is saying by supporting your wonderfully enclosed quotations with examples which are discussed. Thank you. I really enjoyed reading your ideas which are expressed with your usual maturity in expression.

  19. ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ by Vachel Lindsay is a topic we all think about at least once: the disappearance of something we once knew as a everyday life moving forwards. Lindsay clearly shows this with meaningful lines such as this one ‘They gore no more, they bellow no more’ this line is expressing something which once was but is now no more. He uses a example of the United States, how they quickly ”developed” into what they are now, how in such a short span of time they modernized to become one of the world’s largest economies. His last line ‘Lying low’, expresses clearly the slow ending of that era when buffaloes roamed and the Pawnees along with the Blackfeet swelled in larger numbers. Whilst all this he compares that vast difference of now and then. In this piece Lindsay he is poetically expressing that the future awaits us,and it will be a positive adventure but there will be also disappointing experiences too.

    1. Nicholas thank you very much for your response- this is your best one and reflects what you are capable of achieving. I especially like the historical context you have considered here-now, you need to focus on the language.

  20. Lindsay creates a sympathetic feel in the poem “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes”
    “The Flower-Fed Buffaloes” depicts the scene of the disappearance of the buffaloes and other native cultures in America during the 1930s. As a paid musician, Lindsay wrote this poem to show his disapproval towards this occurrence, for which we can sympathise with, through many features of his poem.
    Firstly, Lindsay introduces and dwells on the past. She repeatedly shows us cheerful reminisces of “long ago”, when the buffaloes “ranged, gored, bellowed and trundled” freely. The use of these memories and “long ago” make the poem seem like a fairy tale, making the “Buffaloes, Blackfeet and Pawnees” feel special. These are all symbols and representations of nature. However, all these are “no more” as they have “left us”. This phrase is like a euphemism, as if they lived and belonged to us. Another meaning is that they have chose to leave us, like elves, because they were disgusted at our way of life. We can only feel sorrowful as we watch these special and unique cultures in our life disappear and we can only feel regret for the actions of our ancestors.

    Secondly, the use of contrast in the figurative language helps us feel this way too. The buffalo is described as a peaceful, herbivorous animal. It eats “flowers” which entails that it is a gentle animal. Additionally, fed” implies that it is weak and needs care from other people. This is ironic because the big creature is described like a cute, lovely but helpless baby. Also, the alliteration of the “f” sound in flower-fed creates this soft gentle sound that helps the rhythm flow. Furthermore, the grass is described as lively. The use of the gerunds “tossing, blooming” give the grass a free, animated feel. “Perfumed” means that the grass has a sweet aroma, further.

    However, the gentle “buffaloes of long ago” are replaced by the singing “locomotives” in Line 3. The personification of the “locomotives” act as a contrast to the “bellowing” sounds of the buffalo. It is also sarcastic as the “singing sounds” are actually the harsh, whistling, unnatural sounds the trains make when they roam through the country. Moreover, the “grass” is also “swept away by the wheat”. This is ironic too because “wheat” is odorless and is only used for economic purposes. The natural grass is replaced by the staple food to support mankind. These comparisons all cause us to have a sympathetic feel towards the situation depicted in the poem. The sweet, harmonious and loving images of nature are all replaced by the progress and the ignorance of man.

    Thirdly, the structure of the poem is vital in creating sympathy too. The whole poem has 3 sentences, connected by all different kinds of punctuation such “:-”, commas, enjambment and repetitions of “wheels”. This causes the poem to have a rhythmic and long continuous beat. “Wheels” also has the connotations to time, meaning that it will go on and on forever. Also, the poem has a consistent rhyming scheme of “ABABCDCD” in the first 8 lines. This further makes the poem song-like, similar to a lullaby. Moreover, the repetition of “no more” and “lying low” in the last lines creates a fading effect, as if Lindsay wants us to end shaking our heads in a somber and regretful mood. All these effects combine together, making the poem seem like a solemn funeral requiem.

    Lastly, the tone is important too. If you disregard the last line, the poem has most of the characteristics of a sonnet. It has the octave, the sestet and the twist in the poem. This twist in line 9 with the “But” further gives the impact of the regretful tone Lindsay wanted to create. Lindsay faces reality by accepting the egression of nature, tribes and the buffalo. The tone changes from the originally shameful and apologetic tone to a strong remorseful and rueful tone.
    In conclusion, Lindsay wrote this poem to express his discontent towards the disappearance of nature. Although Lindsay still believes that there still is hope for nature to revive in line 8, that hope is slim and is very little compared to the other destruction caused by progress. Through this simple sonnet-like poem, we are made to feel sympathetic towards the loss of the Buffalo, prairie flowers, Blackfeet and Pawnees. Hoping to remind us of the disadvantages of the progress of technology, Lindsay did so successfully by touching us with this well written poem.

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