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Country Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Country Life by Richard Henry Stoddard
  2. The Season in the Country by Alonzo Jackson Grover
  3. A Time to Talk by Robert Frost
  4. The Orchard by John Jarvis Holden
  5. Apple-Gathering by Mathilde Blind
  6. Farm Breakfast by John Clare
  7. Chore Time by Jean Blewett
  8. Spring Work by Mary B. C. Slade
  9. Milking Time by Elizabeth Madox Roberts
  10. Driving Home the Cows by Kate Putnam Osgood
  11. Calling the Cows by Hannah Augusta Moore
  12. The Scarecrow by Annie Stone
  13. Berrying Song by Lucy Larcom
  14. Nutting Song by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  15. The Road to the Pool by Grace Hazard Conkling
  16. The Stake and Rider Fence by W. E. Hutchinson
  17. The Picnic by Elizabeth Madox Roberts
  18. New-Mown Hay by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
  19. Threshing Time by C. L. Edson
  20. The Stack Behind the Barn by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  21. The Hayloft by Robert Louis Stevenson
  22. Making Hay by Mary B. C. Slade
  23. Hay-Cock by Hilda Conkling
  24. Weather Cock by Annette Wynne
  25. The Old Windmill by Clarence Albert Murch
  26. The Fire-Flies in the Wheat by Harriet Prescott Spofford
  27. The Old Apple Tree by Henry Harvey Fuson
  28. The Pumpkins in the Corn by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  29. The Pumpkin by John Greenleaf Whittier
  30. When the Frost is on the Punkin by James Whitcomb Riley

  1. The Country Life

    Richard Henry Stoddard was born at Hingham, Mass., but removed to New York City while quite young. His first volume of poems, "Foot-prints," appeared in 1849, and has been followed by many others. Of these may be mentioned "Songs of Summer," "Town and Country," "The King's Bell," "Abraham Lincoln" (an ode), and the "Book of the East," from the last of which the following selection is abridged. Mr. Stoddard's verses are full of genuine feeling, and some of them show great poetic power. NOTE.—5. The Indian pipe is a little, white plant, bearing a white, bell-shaped flower.

    Not what we would, but what we must,
    Makes up the sum of living:
    Heaven is both more and less than just,
    In taking and in giving.
    Swords cleave to hands that sought the plow,
    And laurels miss the soldier's brow.

    Me, whom the city holds, whose feet
    Have worn its stony highways,
    Familiar with its loneliest street,—
    Its ways were never my ways.
    My cradle was beside the sea,
    And there, I hope, my grave will be.

    Old homestead! in that old gray town
    Thy vane is seaward blowing;
    Thy slip of garden stretches down
    To where the tide is flowing;
    Below they lie, their sails all furled,
    The ships that go about the world.

    Dearer that little country house,
    Inland with pines beside it;
    Some peach trees, with unfruitful boughs,
    A well, with weeds to hide it:
    No flowers, or only such as rise
    Self-sown—poor things!—which all despise.

    Dear country home! can I forget
    The least of thy sweet trifles?
    The window vines that clamber yet,
    Whose blooms the bee still rifles?
    The roadside blackberries, growing ripe,
    And in the woods the Indian pipe?

    Happy the man who tills his field,
    Content with rustic labor;
    Earth does to him her fullness yield,
    Hap what may to his neighbor.
    Well days, sound nights—oh, can there be
    A life more rational and free?

  2. The Season in the Country

    by Alonzo Jackson Grover

    I love to muse these pensive days,
    The Indian summer through,
    And climb the hills and tread the ways
    In boyhood's haunts anew.

    A thousand voices of the air,
    The sea, the earth, the sky,
    Enchanting whisper to me there,
    Like spirits from on high.

    The falling leaves speak mournfully,
    The fading flowers sigh;
    The sea pours forth grand minstrelsy,
    Benignant smiles the sky.

    The beauteous hills bedeck themselves
    In scarlet, gray and gold;
    Green laurel droops and ivy clings
    O'er cragged rocks and old.

    The mountains rise in grandeur up
    Above the ocean's beds,
    And sombre clouds their curtains loop
    In beauty round their heads.

    The birds ring out their parting songs, The brooks run laughing by,
    The squirrels in the chestnut woods
    Gather their stores on high.

    The speckled trout and darting pike
    In shallow waters spawn;
    The bobolink's metallic notes
    Are tinkling in the lawn.

    The farmer in the orchard shakes
    The golden apples down,
    Or in the meadow ample ricks
    Of gathered hay will crown.

    The partridge on his drumming log
    The listening sportsman hears;
    And lo! a musket's sharp report,
    Resounding, strikes my ears.

    I see and hear all these, and more,
    Through autumn's dreamy haze,
    And long to drop the added years
    Since childhood's happy days.

  3. A Time to Talk

    by Robert Frost

    When a friend calls to me from the road
    And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
    I don’t stand still and look around
    On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
    And shout from where I am, What is it?
    No, not as there is a time to talk.
    I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
    Blade-end up and five feet tall,
    And plod: I go up to the stone wall
    For a friendly visit.

  4. The Orchard

    by John Jarvis Holden

    O pleasant orchard, emerald leaves
    And shining fruit the summer weaves
    Into a jewel of design
    Finer than man will e'er refine;
    But not until the springtime shows
    Her beauty in the lovely blows
    Of pear and apple, peach and cherry,
    To prove the world at last is merry.

  5. Apple-Gathering

    by Mathilde Blind

    Essex flats are pink with clover,
    Kent is crowned with flaunting hops,
    Whitely shine the cliffs of Dover,
    Yellow wave the Midland crops;

    Sussex Downs the flocks grow sleek on,
    But, for me, I love to stand
    Where the Herefordshire beacon
    Watches o'er his orchard land.

    Where now sun, now shadow dapples—
    As it wavers in the breeze—
    Clumps of fresh-complexioned apples
    On the heavy-laden trees:

    Red and yellow, streaked and hoary,
    Russet-coated, pale or brown—
    Some are dipped in sunset glory,
    And some painted by the dawn.

    What profusion, what abundance!
    Not a twig but has its fruits;
    High in air some in the sun dance,
    Some lie scattered near the roots.

    These the hasty winds have taken
    Are a green, untimely crop;
    Those by burly rustics shaken
    Fall with loud resounding plop.

    In this mellow autumn weather,
    Ruddy 'mid the long green grass,
    Heaped-up baskets stand together,
    Filled by many a blowsy lass.

    Red and yellow, streaked and hoary,
    Pile them on the granary floors,
    Till the yule-log's flame in glory
    Loudly up the chimney roars;

    Till gay troops of children, lightly
    Tripping in with shouts of glee,
    See ripe apples dangling brightly
    On the red-lit Christmas-tree.

  6. Farm Breakfast

    by John Clare

    Maids shout to breakfast in a merry strife,
    And the cat runs to hear the whetted knife,
    And dogs are ever in the way to watch
    The mouldy crust and falling bone to catch.
    The wooden dishes round in haste are set,
    And round the table all the boys are met;
    All know their own save Hodge who would be first,
    But every one his master leaves the worst.
    On every wooden dish, a humble claim,
    Two rude cut letters mark the owner's name;
    From every nook the smile of plenty calls,
    And rusty flitches decorate the walls,
    Moore's Almanack where wonders never cease—
    All smeared with candle snuff and bacon grease.

  7. Chore Time

    by Jean Blewett

    When I'm at gran 'dad's on the farm,
    I hear along 'bout six o'clock,
    Just when I'm feelin' snug an' warm,
    "Ho, Bobby, come and feed your stock."

    I jump an' get into my clothes;
    It's dark as pitch, an' shivers run
    All up my back. Now, I suppose
    Not many boys would think this fun.

    But when we get out to the barn
    The greedy pigs begin to squeal,
    An' I throw in the yellow corn,
    A bushel basket to the meal.

    Then I begin to warm right up,
    I whistle Yankee Doodle" through.
    An' wrastle with the collie pup—
    And sometimes gran 'dad whistles too.

    The cow-shed door, it makes a din
    Each time we swing it open wide;
    I run an' flash the lantern in,
    There stand the shorthorns side by side.

    Their breathin' makes a sort of cloud
    Above their heads—there's no frost here.
    "My beauties," gran'dad says out loud,
    "You'll get your breakfasts, never fear."

    When up I climb into the loft
    To fill their racks with clover hay,
    Their eyes, all sleepy like and soft,
    A heap of nice things seem to say.

    The red ox shakes his curly head,
    An' turns on me a solemn face;
    I know he's awful glad his shed
    Is such a warm and smelly place.

    An' last of all the stable big,
    With harness hanging on each door,
    I always want to dance a jig
    On that old musty, dusty floor.

    It seems so good to be alive,
    An' tendin' to the sturdy grays,
    The sorrels, and old Prince, that's five—
    An' Lightfoot with her coaxing ways.

    My gran'dad tells me she is mine,
    An' I'm that proud! I braid her mane,
    An' smooth her sides until they shine,
    An' do my best to make her vain.

    When we have measured oats for all,
    Have slapped the grays upon the flanks,
    An' tried to pat the sorrels tall,
    An' heard them whinny out their thanks,

    We know it's breakfast time, and go
    Out past the yellow stacks of straw,
    Across the creek that used to flow,
    But won't flow now until a thaw.
    Behind the trees the sky is pink,
    The snow drifts by in fat white flakes.
    My gran 'dad says: "Well, Bob, I think
    There comes a smell of buckwheat cakes."

  8. Spring Work

    by Mary B. C. Slade

    Plough the land, plough the land;
    Hold the handles with each hand;
    Furrows keep straight and deep,
    Firm and steady stand.
    Quickly turn around we may,
    Ploughing back the other way;
    Plough the land, plough the land—
    Farmers understand.

    Sow the seed, sow the seed,
    Little birds will come and feed;
    Never mind, you will find
    Much they leave behind.
    Soon the tender blades will spring,
    Just as green as anything;
    Sow the seed, sow the seed,
    Pleasant work indeed.

    Now we rest, now we rest,
    After labor that is best;
    First you know, green will show
    Where the grain we sow.
    Soon you'll see a welcome sight,
    Field so pretty, green, and bright.
    Spring-time through, glad are you
    Farmer's work to do?

  9. Milking Time

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    When supper time is almost come,
    But not quite here, I cannot wait,
    And so I take my china mug
    And go down by the milking gate.

    The cow is always eating shucks
    And spilling off the little silk.
    Her purple eyes are big and soft-
    She always smells like milk.

    And Father takes my mug from me,
    And then he makes the stream come out.
    I see it going in my mug
    And foaming all about.

    And when it's piling very high,
    And when some little streams commence
    To run and drip along the sides,
    He hands it to me through the fence.

  10. Driving Home the Cows

    The great tears sprang to their meeting eyes;
    For the heart must speak when the lips are dumb,

    – Kate Putnam Osgood
    Driving Home the Cows
    by Kate Putnam Osgood

    Out of the clover and blue-eyed grass
    He turned them into the river lane;
    One after another he let them pass,
    Then fastened the meadow bars again.

    Under the willows and over the hill,
    He patiently followed their sober pace;
    The merry whistle for once was still,
    And something shadowed the sunny face.

    Only a boy! and his father had said
    He never could let his youngest go:
    Two already were lying dead,
    Under the feet of the trampling foe.

    But after the evening work was done,
    And the frogs were loud in the meadow-swamp,
    Over his shoulder he slung his gun,
    And stealthily followed the footpath damp.

    Across the clover, and through the wheat,
    With resolute heart and purpose grim:
    Though the dew was on his hurrying feet,
    And the blind bat's flitting startled him.

    Thrice since then had the lanes been white,
    And the orchards sweet with apple-bloom;
    And now, when the cows came back at night,
    The feeble father drove them home.

    For news had come to the lonely farm
    That three were lying where two had lain;
    And the old man's tremulous, palsied arm
    Could never lean on a son's again.

    The summer day grew cool and late:
    He went for the cows when the work was done;
    But down the lane, as he opened the gate,
    He saw them coming one by one:

    Brindle, Ebony, Speckle, and Bess,
    Shaking their horns in the evening wind;
    Cropping the buttercups out of the grass,
    But who was it following close behind?

    Loosely swung in the idle air
    The empty sleeve of army blue;
    And worn and pale, from the crisping hair,
    Looked out a face that the father knew.

    For close-barred prisons will sometimes yawn,
    And yield their dead unto life again;
    And the day that comes with a cloudy dawn,
    In golden glory at last may wane.

    The great tears sprang to their meeting eyes;
    For the heart must speak when the lips are dumb,
    And under the silent evening skies
    Together they followed the cattle home.

  11. Calling the Cows

    by Hannah Augusta Moore

    'T was a vision of the morning,
    'T was a vision of the mist,
    Ere the purple hills of dawning
    By the sun's first rays were kissed.

    Up floated, through gray shadows,
    To my chamber's silent gloom.
    The tuneful voice of Gracie—
    Its music filled my room.

    It called me from my roving
    In the land of pleasant dreams,
    The land of happy loving,
    By soft, untroubled streams.

    Fair as an Easter lily,
    And beautiful and tall,
    Stood Gracie—from the shadows
    Making her winsome call.

    "Soh, Fan! soh, Fan! soh, Pinkie!
    Soh, Pinkie! and soh, Fan!"
    Paint ye a morning picture
    More spirit-like who can!

    The breathings of the river
    To phantom shapes had grown;
    They curled about the mountain,
    They through the vale were blown.

    Lightly they clung to Gracie,
    Standing on dew-drops there;
    Lightly they veiled her features
    And flowing golden hair.

    Was it a mortal maiden,
    Thus, half-revealed, that stood,
    On an oread of the mountain,
    Or a dryad of the wood?

    Or, from the darkling river
    Had a fair naiad sprung,
    Wearing the form of Gracie,
    With Gracie's silver tongue?

    "Soh, Fan! soh, Fan! soh, Pinkie!
    Soh, Pinkie! and soh, Fan!"
    Paint ye a morning picture
    More spirit-like who can.

  12. The Scarecrow

    by Annie Stone

    Here is the scarecrow, see him stand
    Upon the newly planted land;
    A figure rugged and forlorn,
    A silent watcher of the corn.

    His dangling legs, his arms spread wide,
    A lone man of the countryside;
    Uncouth, the butt of pen and tongue,
    Unheralded, unsought, unsung

    To you, old scarecrow, then this lay
    To cheer you on your lonely way;
    Would that all men, their whole lives through,
    Served some good purpose same as you.

  13. Berrying Song

    by Lucy Larcom

    Ho! for the hills in summer!
    Ho! for the rocky shade,
    Where the groundpine trails under the fern-leaves.
    Deep in the mossy glade.
    Up in the dewy sunrise,
    Waked by the robin's trill;
    Up and away, a-berrying,
    To the pastures on the hill!

    Red lilies blaze out of the thicket;
    Wild roses blush here and there:
    There's sweetness in all the breezes,
    There's health in each breath of air.
    Hark to the wind in the pine-trees!
    Hark to the tinkling rill!
    Oh, pleasant it is a-berrying
    In the pastures on the hill!

    We'll garland our baskets with blossoms,
    And sit on the rocks and sing,
    And tell one another old stories,
    Till the trees long shadows fling;
    Then homeward, with laughter and carol,
    Mocking the echoes shrill.
    Oh, merry it is a-berrying
    In the pastures on the hill!

  14. Nutting Song

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    The November sun invites me,
    And although the chill wind smites me,
    I will wander to the woodland
    Where the laden trees await;
    And with loud and joyful singing
    I will set the forest ringing,
    As if I were king of Autumn,
    And Dame Nature were my mate,—

    While the squirrel in his gambols
    Fearless round about me ambles,
    As if he were bent on showing
    In my kingdom he’d a share;
    While my warm blood leaps and dashes,
    And my eye with freedom flashes,
    As my soul drinks deep and deeper
    Of the magic in the air.

    There’s a pleasure found in nutting,
    All life’s cares and griefs outshutting,
    That is fuller far and better
    Than what prouder sports impart.
    Who could help a carol trilling
    As he sees the baskets filling?
    Why, the flow of song keeps running
    O’er the high walls of the heart.

    So when I am home returning,
    When the sun is lowly burning,
    I will once more wake the echoes
    With a happy song of praise,—
    For the golden sunlight blessing,
    And the breezes’ soft caressing,
    And the precious boon of living
    In the sweet November days.

  15. The Road to a Pool

    by Grace Hazard Conkling

    I know a road that leads from town,
    A pale road in a Watteau gown
    Of wild-rose sprays, that runs away
    All fragrant-sandaled, slim and gray.

    It slips along the laurel grove
    And down the hill, intent to rove,
    And crooks an arm of shadow cool
    Around a willow-silvered pool.

    I never travel very far
    Beyond the pool where willows are:
    There is a shy and native grace
    That hovers all about the place,

    And resting there I hardly know
    Just where it was I meant to go,
    Contented like the road that dozes
    In panniered gown of briar roses.

  16. The Stake and Rider Fence

    by W. E. Hutchinson

    I love to let my fancy go wandering where it will,
    To the happy days of boyhood, to the meadow and the hill;
    To the brooks and quiet places, to the woods that seemed immense,
    But they always linger fondly at the stake-and-rider fence.

    Here, cicadas sing their loudest, and the crickets draw the bow,
    And the 'hoppers and the locusts join the chorus, soft and low;
    And you hear the bees a humming like a fiddle with one string,
    While the air just seems to vibrate with a soothing kind of ring.

    There the squirrel scolds and chatters as he runs along the rail,
    And you hear the rain-crow calling, and the whistle of the quail;
    And the catbird, and the blue jay, scold with vigor most intense,
    As they build among the branches by the stake-and-rider fence.

    There grew the tasseled milkweed with its bursting silken pods,
    And the stately, waving branches of the yellow goldenrod;
    The mullein stalk and asters, with teasels growing dense,
    God's garden, in the angle of the stake-and-rider fence.

    It was homely, but I loved it, and I wouldn't trade, would you?
    For all the hothouse beauties that a florist ever knew.
    Yes, I'd give up earthly honors, and count it recompense,
    Just to wander through the meadow by the stake-and-rider fence.

  17. The Picnic

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    They had a picnic in the woods,
    And Mother couldn't go that day,
    But the twins and Brother and I could go;
    We rode on the wagon full of hay.

    There were more little girls than ten, I guess.
    And the boy that is Joe B. Kirk was there.
    He found a toad and a katydid,
    And a little girl came whose name was Clare.

    Miss Kate-Marie made us play a song
    Called "Fare-you-well, says Johnny O'Brown."
    You dance in a ring and sing it through,
    And then some one kneels down.

    She kissed us all and Joe B. Kirk;
    But Joe B. didn't mind a bit.
    He walked around and swung his arms
    And seemed to he very glad of it.

    Then Mr. Jim said he would play,
    But Miss Marie, she told him then,
    It's a game for her and the little folks,
    And he could go and fish with the men.

    Mr. Wells was there and he had a rope
    To tie to a limb and make it swing.
    And Mrs. Wells, Mr. Wells's wife,
    Gave me a peach and a chicken wing.

    And I had a little cherry pie
    And a piece of bread, and after we'd played
    Two other songs, I had some cake
    And another wing and some lemonade.

  18. New-Mown Hay

    by Margaret E. Sangster

    Sweet, oh sweet, from the fields to-day
    Wafts the breath of the new-mown hay.

    Sewing away in a happy dream,
    I sit in the porch with my long white seam.

    The very silence is like a tune,
    Sung to the golden afternoon.

    While the house is still, and the meadows lie
    Fast asleep 'neath the radiant sky.

    Only at intervals, now and then,
    I hear the farmer call to his men.

    And the farmer's voice is dear to me
    As ever a mortal voice can be.

    You may talk of the love of youth and maid,
    Of two in childhood, perhaps, who played

    Together by rill and fount and tree,
    Till their hearts had grown one heart to be;

    You may tell of the loyal faith and life
    Of the husband dear and the gentle wife;

    But the widowed mother leans closest on
    The tender strength of her only son.

    Ah! what if that farmer of mine one day
    Should seek him a bride, as well he may,

    And bring her home! Would I be loath,
    Mother and friend, to live for both?

    For somehow the scent of the new-mown hay
    Carries me back to a far-off day,

    When my silver hair was in waves of brown,
    When my bashful glances kept looking down,

    And swift to my cheek, in a sudden red,
    Mounted the blush, at a soft word said.

    Truly the days of my youth were sweet,
    Ere the path was rough to my toiling feet.

    Truly the morning of life was blest,
    And yet in sooth is the evening best;

    For I've learned the lesson that joys must fly,
    And the proudest hopes, like flowers, die.

    But God abides in his heaven, and he
    Will never forget to care for me.

    Sweet, oh sweet, is the new-mown hay,
    Wafting its breath from the fields to-day.

    Sweet is the golden afternoon,
    With its silence rhythmic as a tune,

    And dear to the soul is the calm content
    Of hours in grateful trusting spent.

  19. Threshing Time

    by C. L. Edson

    There's dew on the stubble and fog in the air,
    And a red eye peeps over the hill,
    And a white flag of steam, flaring up with a scream,
    Has awakened the dull, drowsing doves from their dream
    On the aged, gray granary sill.
    And through dew on the grasses and fog in the air,
    The throng of the threshers is gathering there.
    With toiling and tugging, and lifting and lugging,
    They belt the steam engine that's wheezing and chugging—
    And pitchforks are gleaming and laborers laugh,
    Preparing to hurry the wheat from the chaff.

    The smoke and the vapor float over the trees,
    And a stamping horse rattles a chain;
    And men with red handkerchiefs looped at their throats
    Are climbing the mountains of barley and oats,
    The beautiful Alps of the grain.
    The smoke and the vapor floats over the trees,
    And the sun now has routed the fog on the breeze,
    While creaking and turning and slapping and churning,
    The belted red thresher has lisped out its yearning—
    Has mumbled its hunger in mournfulest note,
    And the first sheaf is ground in its ravenous throat.

    "Look out, fellers. Let 'er go!
    Pitch them first few bundles slow.
    Hold on son, don't gash my hands
    When you're cuttin' off them bands.
    Wheat's a-spilling. Hey, you Jack!
    Run that cussed wagon back!
    Grab a wheel, Bill, help him there.
    We ain't got no wheat to spare.
    Wheat's too high now, I'll be bound,
    To thresh and throw it on the ground.
    Belts off now! And I just said
    You boys would get her over-fed.
    You mustn't try to rush her through;
    The straw's still tough and damp with dew.
    When the sun gets two hours high
    You will find it's plenty dry.
    All right, let 'er go again;
    Now we're threshin' out the grain.
    See how plump them berries is.
    That's the stuff that does the biz.
    That there wheat's from college seed
    Of selected Turkey breed;
    The land was fall plowed just as soon—
    All right, boy, she s blowed for noon.
    Ease her down and hold her steady,
    Women folks says grub is ready."

    Now the thirsty sun swings lower on his torrid path to earth,
    And the yellow straw is piling toward the sky.
    Say, a feller learns at threshin what a drink of water's worth,
    For it tastes as sweet as cider when you're dry.

    At last the sun is setting, just a crimson ball of fire,
    And a coolness all the atmosphere pervades;
    The stalwart feeder's dusty arms at last begin to tire,
    And the last sheaf passes downward through the blades.

    Now the whistle's long drawn wailing is a song of seraphim,
    And the stars light up in heaven's purple deep;
    And the smoking and the joking, how it rests the weary limb
    Ere bedtime ushers in the perfect sleep.

    The day is over,
    The world is fed.
    And the farmer sleeps
    On his feather bed.

  20. The Stack Behind the Barn

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    September is here, with the ripened seeds,
    And the homely smell of the autumn weeds,
    My heart goes back to a vanished day,
    And I am again a boy at play
    In the stack behind the barn.

    Dear memory of the old home-farm,—
    The hedge-rows fencing the crops from harm,
    The cows, too heavy with milk for haste,
    The barn-yard, yellow with harvest waste,
    And the stack behind the barn.

    Dear, dear, dear the old garden-smell,
    Sweet William and phlox that I loved so well,
    And the seeding mint, and the sage turned grey,
    But dearer the smell of the tumbled hay
    In the stack behind the barn.

    In the side of the stack we made our nest,
    And there was the play-house we loved the best.
    A thicket of goldenrod, bending and bright,
    Filled us with glory and hid us from sight
    In the stack behind the barn.

    Then, when the stack, with the year, ran low,
    And our frosty, morning cheeks were aglow,
    When time had forgotten the dropping leaves,
    What joy to drop from the barn's wide eaves
    To the stack behind the barn!

    O childhood years! Your heedless feet
    Have slipped away with how much that's sweet!
    But dreams and memory master you,
    Till the make-believe of Life is through
    I still may play as the children do
    In the stack behind the barn.

  21. The Hayloft

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Through all the pleasant meadow-side
    The grass grew shoulder-high,
    Till the shining scythes went far and wide
    And cut it down to dry.

    Those green and sweetly smelling crops
    They led in waggons home;
    And they piled them here in mountain tops
    For mountaineers to roam.

    Here is Mount Clear, Mount Rusty-Nail,
    Mount Eagle and Mount High;—
    The mice that in these mountains dwell,
    No happier are than I!

    Oh, what a joy to clamber there,
    Oh, what a place for play,
    With the sweet, the dim, the dusty air,
    The happy hills of hay!

  22. Making Hay

    by Mary B. C. Slade

    Through the meadow-grass, dewy, and tall, and green,
    Drives, whirring and whizzing, the mowing-machine,
    The horses are prancing, the sharp blades shine,
    And the grass lies low in a level line.

    To and fro fly the birds, and chipper and chatter,
    And seem to be wondering what is the matter;
    While Bobolink's wife makes a frightened ado,
    As she looks for her nest where the horses went through.

    The day grows hot, and the daisies wither;
    The funny horse-tedder drives hither and thither,
    And scatters and tosses the grain as it goes,
    Like a monstrous grasshopper, stubbing his toes.

    Then the rake comes on where the tedder has been,
    And rakes up and drops out its lines of green;
    And the field so fair in the early morn,
    When the noontime comes, is all shaven and shorn.

    So the wilting grass, and the fading clover,
    They all day long pitch over and over;
    And men with their forks, as the sun goes down,
    Pile the little round heaps, like an Esquimaux town.

    While the daylight fades in the golden west,
    Let us lie on the odorous hay and rest;
    Our couch is as soft as a velvet throne,
    And sweet as a breeze from the spice-isles blown.

    To-morrow the carts for the hay will come,
    And the willing old oxen will carry it home;
    And the children shall ride to the barn away,
    On the very tip-top of the load of hay.

  23. Hay-Cock

    by Hilda Conkling

    This is another kind of sweetness
    Shaped like a bee-hive:
    This is the hive the bees have left,
    It is from this clover-heap
    They took away the honey
    For the other hive!

  24. Weather Cock

    by Annette Wynne

    Weather cock blowing whenever winds blow,
    Going where some one else wants you to go,
    I would not like always to have to do so.

    Perhaps it is fine to live up very high,
    And swing around often and look at the sky,
    But I think, after all, I would rather be I.

    I'd rather be I and live down here below,
    And wait when I like, and when I like go,
    But you must go always the way the winds blow.

  25. The Old Windmill

    by Clarence Albert Murch

    Battered windmill, old and gray,
    Swinging there athwart the sky,
    Sport of every idle breeze
    That may chance to wander by.
    Blow they fair or blow they foul,
    Still you wag your dingy cowl
    Through the livelong night and day,
    Weather-beaten, old and gray.

    Is that endless monotone—
    Half a shriek and half a groan—
    That in dreary cadence drones
    From your old rheumatic bones,
    Echo of some sylvan tune,
    Or forgotten forest rune
    From the aisles of long ago,
    Calling, calling, soft and low
    Through the banished years that creep
    Back to some old forest dim,
    Where the woodland zephyrs sweep
    Dancing leaf and swaying limb?

    As the lazy breezes blow
    All your gaunt arms to and fro,
    Swinging ever round and round,
    To that weird, unearthly sound,
    Do you ever wish that some
    Wandering Don Quixote of wind
    With its stormy lance might come—
    End that weary, ceaseless grind?

    Life is like a windmill gray,
    Swinging ’twixt the earth and sky;
    Sport of every passing breeze
    That may chance to wander by.
    Still we grind with smile or scowl,
    Blow they fair or blow they foul;
    Sure that we shall be some day,
    Weather-beaten, old and gray.

  26. The Fire-Flies in the Wheat

    by Harriet Prescott Spofford

    Ah, never of a summer night
    Will life again be half as sweet
    As in that country of delight
    Where straying, staying, with happy feet,
    We watched the fire-flies in the wheat.

    Full dark and deep the starless night,
    Still throbbing with the summer heat;
    There was no ray of any light,
    But dancing, glancing, far and fleet,
    Only the fire-flies in the wheat.

    In that great country of delight,
    Where youth and love the borders meet,
    We paused and lingered for the sight,
    While sparkling, darkling, flashed the sheet
    Of splendid fire-flies in the wheat.

    That night the earth seemed but a height
    Whereon to rest our happy feet,
    Watching one moment that wide flight
    Where lightening, brightening, mount and meet
    Those burning fire-flies in the wheat.

    What whispered words whose memory might
    Make an old heart with madness beat,
    Whose sense no music can recite,
    That chasing, racing, rhythmic beat
    Sings out with fire-flies in the wheat.

    O never of such blest despite
    Dreamed I, whom fate was wont to cheat—
    And like a star your face, and white—
    While mingling, tingling, wild as sleet,
    Stormed all those fire-flies through the wheat.

    Though of that country of delight
    The farther bounds we shall not greet,
    Still, sweet of all, that summer night,
    That maddest, gladdest night most sweet,
    Watching the fire-flies in the wheat!

  27. The Old Apple Tree

    by Henry Harvey Fuson

    Just beside the forest great,
    Close to a path traveled a generation ago,
    Stands the old apple tree to wait
    The final summons to go.
    Amid a new grown forest, with vines
    Entwined about his stooping form,
    He ever clings to life, but pines
    For the good old days that are gone.
    Like an old man who has spent
    His allotted time in service true,
    With the ranks of his generation rent
    By death, in a generation that is new,
    He holds to life that to him is dear
    And approaches the end without fear.

  28. The Pumpkins in the Corn

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    Amber and blue, the smoke behind the hill,
    Where in the glow fades out the morning star,
    Curtains the autumn cornfield, sloped afar,
    And strikes an acrid savour on the chill.
    The hilltop fence shines saffron o'er the still
    Unbending ranks of bunched and bleaching corn,
    And every pallid stalk is crisp with morn,
    Crisp with the silver autumn morns distil.

    Purple the narrowing alleys stretched between
    The spectral shocks, a purple harsh and cold,
    But spotted, where the gadding pumpkins run,
    With bursts of blaze that startle the serene
    Like sudden voices,—globes of orange bold,
    Elate to mimic the unrisen sun.

  29. The Pumpkin

    The Pumpkin Patch
    by Winslow Homer
    by John Greenleaf Whittier

    Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
    The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
    And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
    With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
    Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
    While he waited to know that his warning was true,
    And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
    For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

    On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
    Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
    And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
    Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
    Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
    On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
    Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
    And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

    Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
    From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
    When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
    The old broken links of affection restored,
    When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
    And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
    What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
    What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

    Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
    When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
    When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
    Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
    When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
    Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,
    Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
    In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

    Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
    E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
    Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
    Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
    And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
    Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
    That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
    And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
    And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
    Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

  30. When the Frost is on the Punkin

    by James Whitcomb Riley

    When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
    And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
    And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
    And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
    O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
    With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
    As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
    When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

    They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
    When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
    Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
    And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
    But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
    Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
    Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
    When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

    The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
    And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
    The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
    A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
    The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
    The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
    O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
    When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

    Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
    Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
    And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
    With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...
    I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
    As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me—
    I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
    When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

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