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 Arthur Chapman 

Out Where The West Begins


 

        Arthur Chapman  was born in Rockford, Illinois in 1873; and he was educated there in public schools. He lived there until 1895 when he married and moved to Chicago.  There, he was a reporter on the Chicago  Daily News. three years later, he moved to Denver, Colorado where he was a reporter and columnist on Photo of Arthur Chapmanthe Denver Republican for 15 years. For the next three years (from 1916 through 1919), he was the managing editor for The Denver Times. From 1920 until his death he was as special writer for the New York Herald-Tribune. He authored two  books of poetry; "Out Where The West Begins" in 1917 and "Cactus Center" in 1921. He wrote several books; "Mystery Ranch", "The Story Of Colorado"  and "John Crews".   

      The picture to the right is of Arthur Chapman  and a burro foal.. He is on a push car of the Argentine Central Railway  in the Colorado mountains, above the timberline.  Pictured with him are three workmen.  (This picture is presented with the kind permission of The Denver Public Library, The Colorado Historic Society, and the Denver Art Museum.)  Chapman explored the Rocky Mountains, the Mesa Verde National Park and other points of interest in Colorado, extensively; and he loved the West.   
                      

                 The cover of his novel, "Mystery Ranch" says this about him:
 " . . Today [Out Where The West Begins] is perhaps the best-known bit of verse in America. It hangs framed in the office of the Secretary of the Interior at Washington. It has been quoted in Congress, and printed as campaign material for at least two Governors. It has crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific, while throughout this country it may be found pinned on walls and pasted in scrapbooks innumerable. . . [Chapman's poems] possess a rich Western humor such as has not been heard in American poetry since the passing of Bret Harte."

                  Chapman was astounded at the reception accorded " Out Where The West Begins".  Shortly before six one evening in 1911, Chapman was wracking his brain for material to fill his column that was featured in the old Denver Republican.  He wanted to catch the 6 o'clock street car for dinner. He saw a press dispatch saying that the governors of Western states were arguing about where the west began with some saying  it began at the Mississippi River; while others insisted it began with the Alleghany Mountains. Chapman was struck with a  sudden idea, and scribbled the famous verse in time to catch the street car.

                There has been a renewed interest in cowboy western poetry in the past two decades or so with the Cowboy Poetry Gatherings...but back in those days, cowboy western poems were a part of everyday life.  Arthur Chapman is not widely known today...but in those day he was preeminent.  In those days, mothers read "Out Where The West Begins" and other cowboy-western poetry to their pre-school age children the way mothers today read Dr. Seuss.    Here it is folks, generally considered to be the best known bit of verse in America during the 1920s and 1930s.

Out Where The West Begins
 

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.

Arthur Chapman 1917-1918

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