Walter McDonald’s “A Thousand Miles of Stars” consists of four eight-line stanzas written in rhythmic free verse of four to six beats per line. A lyrical reflection, it focuses on the changes in personal values that come with years and experience. The speaker first describes, with comic irony, his youthful, romantic vision of his place and potential in the world. He then contrasts this speculation with the more down-to-earth vision that characterizes his maturity. Although the things he values have changed with age and circumstance, his passion for life and the world in which he lives remains.
The poem begins with the speaker’s memory that he thought he would “need a thousand sweethearts” when he became a famous rodeo rider. So great would be his wealth and fame that he would pass his days in “villas in Italy,/ Geneva, Tahiti.” Not only humans but also animals would respond to him with love and devotion. “Palominos” would nudge his fist for sugar; dogs would call him master “with their tails”; and even the more exotic creatures of his romantic retreats, “leopards” and “monkeys,” would do “amazing tricks” to please him. His toucans would welcome him home with their singing.
Such were the dreams that, after a long day in the saddle, the young cowboy would enjoy in the bunkhouse. The excitement of “straddling a black,/ two-thousand-pound bull” with “a thousand fans cheering” had understandably filled...
(The entire section is 511 words.)