John G. Neihardt wrote this poem in 1908 after the pieces of it came to him in a dream, and he later considered it one of his best. Neihardt, poet laureate of Nebraska, taught English and poetry at the University of Missouri - Columbia for a number of years, and local legendary musician Ken Shepherd got to know him there. Ken set the poem to music in the 1960s. The song came to us one evening before Easter 1997 via Bob Dyer and David Grimes who managed to recall most of it during an evening of far-flung conversation and home-brewed beer.
Once more the northbound Wonder |
Brings back the goose and crane,
Prophetic Sons of Thunder,
Apostles of the Rain.
In many a battling river
His countenance is lightning
O who can be a stranger