How would you explain "The Flower-Fed Buffaloes" by Vachel Lindsay?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of my favorite American poems, Vachel Lindsay's "The Flower-Fed Buffaloes" describes a time and an area of the Old West which lives on under totally different circumstances. Across the American prairies of the Midwest where buffalo and Indians once roamed there now lies highways traveled by automobiles and 18-wheelers ("Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by"). Cars and trucks have replaced horses and locomotives as the transportation of its inhabitants, and the only Native Americans still there are buried ("...Blackfeet lying low, / With the Pawnee lying low."). Some of the beauty remains, where wheat has replaced the "perfumed grass," and "spring that still is sweet." But the old days are gone. The buffalo, worshipped by the Indian as a source of meat and protection, "left us long ago"--shot to extinction by hunters who provided meat for the men who laid the track for the same locomotives that have now nearly disappeared. Like the Blackfeet and Pawnee, the only buffaloes left in the area are now "lying low" beneath the fields of wheat.

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 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:--
With the Blackfeet lying low,
With the Pawnee lying low.