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Poems for 8th Graders

Table of Contents

Here We Are Gathering Nuts in May
Here We Are Gathering Nuts in May
by Elizabeth Forbes
  1. Speak Kindly by Kate Slaughter McKinney
  2. We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  3. Sonnet 43: How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  4. Remember by Christina Georgina Rossetti
  5. The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  6. The Angel of Marye's Heights by Walter A. Clark
  7. Barbara Frietchie by John Greenleaf Whittier
  8. O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
  9. The Dying Soldiers by Anonymous
  10. The Happiest Heart by John Vance Cheney
  11. When Milking-Time is Done by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  12. Maid of the West-Land by Robert J. C. Stead
  13. The Sod House on the Prairie by Ellen P. Allerton
  14. My Old Prairie Home by Ed Blair
  15. Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  16. Comparison by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  17. A Sculptor by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  18. Autumn by Ruby Archer
  19. Old-Fashioned Letters by Edgar A. Guest
  20. Song of the School Bell by John Edward Everett
  21. The Old Cane Mill by Nellie Gregg Tomlinson
  22. Threshing Time by C. L. Edson
  23. In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

  1. Speak Kindly

    by Kate Slaughter McKinney

    Speak kindly in the morning,
    When you are leaving home,
    And give the day a lighter heart
    Into the week to roam.
    Leave kind words as mementoes
    To be handled and caressed,
    And watch the noon-time hour arrive
    In gold and tinsel dressed.

    Speak kindly in the evening!
    When on the walk is heard
    A tired footstep that you know,
    Speak one refreshing word,
    And see the glad light springing
    From the heart into the eye,
    As sometimes from behind a cloud
    A star leaps to the sky.

    Speak kindly to the children
    That crowd around your chair,
    The tender lips that lean on yours
    Kiss, smooth the flaxen hair;
    Some day a room that’s lonesome
    The little ones may own,
    And home be empty as the nest
    From which the birds have flown.

    Speak kindly to the stranger
    Who passes through the town,
    A loving word is light of weight—
    Not so would prove a frown.
    One is a precious jewel
    The heart would grasp in sleep,
    The other like a demon’s gift
    The memory loathes to keep.

    Speak kindly to the sorrowful
    Who stand beside the dead,
    The heart can lean against a word
    Though thorny seems the bed.
    And oh, to those discouraged
    Who faint upon the way,
    Stop, stop—if just a moment—
    And something kindly say.

    Speak kindly to the fallen ones,
    Your voice may help them rise;
    A word right-spoken oft unclasps
    The gate beyond the skies.
    Speak kindly, and the future
    You’ll find God looking through!
    Speak of another as you’d have
    Him always speak of you.

  2. We Wear the Mask

    The Mask
    The Mask
    by Thomas Dewing
    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    We wear the mask that grins and lies,
    It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
    This debt we pay to human guile;
    With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
    And mouth with myriad subtleties.

    Why should the world be over-wise,
    In counting all our tears and sighs?
    Nay, let them only see us, while
    We wear the mask.

    We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
    To thee from tortured souls arise.
    We sing, but oh the clay is vile
    Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
    But let the world dream otherwise,
    We wear the mask!

  3. Sonnet 43: How Do I Love Thee?

    by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
    I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
    My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
    For the ends of being and ideal grace.
    I love thee to the level of every day's
    Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
    I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
    I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
    I love thee with the passion put to use
    In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
    I shall but love thee better after death.

  4. Remember

    He knew that he was not dreaming.
    He knew that he was not dreaming.
    by Elizabeth Shippen Green
    by Christina Georgina Rossetti

    Remember me when I am gone away,
    Gone far away into the silent land;
    When you can no more hold me by the hand,
    Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
    Remember me when no more day by day
    You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
    Only remember me; you understand
    It will be late to counsel then or pray.
    Yet if you should forget me for a while
    And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
    For if the darkness and corruption leave
    A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
    Better by far you should forget and smile
    Than that you should remember and be sad.

  5. The Charge of the Light Brigade

    Scotland Forever!
    Scotland Forever!
    by Elizabeth Thompson
    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    “Forward, the Light Brigade!
    Charge for the guns!” he said.
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    “Forward, the Light Brigade!”
    Was there a man dismayed?
    Not though the soldier knew
    Someone had blundered.
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die.
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon in front of them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of hell
    Rode the six hundred.

    Flashed all their sabres bare,
    Flashed as they turned in air
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging an army, while
    All the world wondered.
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right through the line they broke;
    Cossack and Russian
    Reeled from the sabre stroke
    Shattered and sundered.
    Then they rode back, but not
    Not the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    While horse and hero fell.
    They that had fought so well
    Came through the jaws of Death,
    Back from the mouth of hell,
    All that was left of them,
    Left of six hundred.

    When can their glory fade?
    O the wild charge they made!
    All the world wondered.
    Honour the charge they made!
    Honour the Light Brigade,
    Noble six hundred!

  6. The Angel of Marye's Heights

    Richard Rowland Kirkland Memorial
    Richard Rowland Kirkland Memorial
    by Felix de Weldon
    by Walter A. Clark

    A sunken road and a wall of stone
    And Cobb's grim line of grey
    Lay still at the base of Marye's hill
    On the morn of a winter's day.

    And crowning the frowning crest above
    Sleep Alexander's guns,
    While gleaming fair in the sunlit air
    The Rappahannock runs.

    On the plains below, the blue lines glow,
    And the bugle rings out clear,
    As with bated breath they march to death
    And a soldier's honored bier.

    For the slumbering guns awake to life
    And the screaming shell and ball
    From the front and flanks crash through the ranks
    And leave them where they fall.

    And the grey stone wall is ringed with fire
    And the pitiless leaden hail
    Drives back the foe to the plains below,
    Shattered and crippled and frail.

    Again and again a new line forms
    And the gallant charge is made,
    And again and again they fall like grain
    In the sweep of the reaper's blade.

    And then from out of the battle smoke,
    There falls on the lead swept air,
    From the whitening lips that are ready to die
    The piteous moan and the plaintive cry
    For "Water" everywhere.

    And into the presence of Kershaw brave,
    There comes a fair faced lad,
    With quivering lips, as his cap he tips,
    "I can't stand this," he said.

    "Stand what?" the general sternly said,
    As he looked on the field of slaughter;
    "To see those poor boys dying out there,
    With no one to help them, no one to care
    And crying for 'Water! Water!'

    "If you'll let me go, I'll give them some."
    "Why, boy, you're simply mad;
    They'll kill you as soon as you scale the wall
    In this terrible storm of shell and ball,"
    The general kindly said.

    "Please let me go," the lad replied.
    "May the Lord protect you, then,"
    And over the wall in the hissing air,
    He carried comfort to grim despair,
    And balm to the stricken men.

    And as he straightened the mangled limbs
    On their earthen bed of pain,
    The whitening lips all eagerly quaffed
    From the canteen's mouth the cooling draught
    And blessed him again and again.

    Like Daniel of old in the lions' den,
    He walked through the murderous air,
    With never a breath of the leaden storm
    To touch or to tear his grey clad form,
    For the hand of God was there.

    And I am sure in the Book of Gold,
    Where the blessèd Angel writes
    The names that are blest of God and men,
    He wrote that day with his shining pen,
    Then smiled and lovingly wrote again
    "The Angel of Marye's Heights."

  7. Barbara Frietchie

    Barbara Frietchie
    Barbara Frietchie
    by N. C. Wyeth
    by John Greenleaf Whittier

    Up from the meadows rich with corn,
    Clear in the cool September morn,

    The clustered spires of Frederick stand
    Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

    Round about them orchards sweep,
    Apple— and peach-tree fruited deep,

    Fair as a garden of the Lord
    To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

    On that pleasant morn of the early fall
    When Lee marched over the mountain wall,—

    Over the mountains winding down,
    Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

    Forty flags with their silver stars,
    Forty flags with their crimson bars,

    Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
    Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

    Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
    Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

    Bravest of all in Frederick town,
    She took up the flag the men hauled down;

    In her attic window the staff she set,
    To show that one heart was loyal yet.

    Up the street came the rebel tread,
    Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

    Under his slouched hat left and right
    He glanced: the old flag met his sight.

    “Halt!”— the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
    “Fire!”— out blazed the rifle-blast.

    It shivered the window, pane and sash;
    It rent the banner with seam and gash.

    Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
    Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;

    She leaned far out on the window-sill,
    And shook it forth with a royal will.

    “Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
    But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

    A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
    Over the face of the leader came;

    The nobler nature within him stirred
    To life at that woman’s deed and word:

    “Who touches a hair of yon gray head
    Dies like a dog! March on!” he said.

    All day long through Frederick street
    Sounded the tread of marching feet:

    All day long that free flag tost
    Over the heads of the rebel host.

    Ever its torn folds rose and fell
    On the loyal winds that loved it well;

    And through the hill-gaps sunset light
    Shone over it with a warm good-night.

    Barbara Frietchie’s work is o’er,
    And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.

    Honor to her! and let a tear
    Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall’s bier.

    Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave
    Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

    Peace and order and beauty draw
    Round thy symbol of light and law;

    And ever the stars above look down
    On thy stars below in Frederick town!

  8. O Captain! My Captain!

    The Last Hours of Abraham Lincoln
    The Last Hours of Abraham Lincoln
    by Alonzo Chappel
    by Walt Whitman

    O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
    The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
    The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
    While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

    But O heart! heart! heart!
    O the bleeding drops of red,
    Where on the deck my Captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

    O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
    Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
    For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
    For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

    O captain! dear father!
    This arm beneath your head;
    It is some dream that on the deck,
    You've fallen cold and dead.

    My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
    My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
    The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
    From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

    Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
    But I, with mournful tread,
    Walk the deck my captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

  9. The Dying Soldiers

    by Anonymous

    A waste of land, a sodden plain,
    A lurid sunset sky,
    With clouds that fled and faded fast
    In ghostly phantasy;
    A field upturned by trampling feet,
    A field uppiled with slain,
    With horse and rider blent in death
    Upon the battle plain.

    The dying and the dead lie low;
    For them, no more shall rise
    The evening moon, nor midnight stars,
    Nor day light's soft surprise:
    They will not wake to tenderest call,
    Nor see again each home,
    Where waiting hearts shall throb and break,
    When this day's tidings come.

    Two soldiers, lying as they fell
    Upon the reddened clay—
    In daytime, foes; at night, in peace
    Breathing their lives away!
    Brave hearts had stirred each manly breast;
    Fate only, made them foes;
    And lying, dying, side by side,
    A softened feeling rose.

    "Our time is short," one faint voice said;
    "To-day we've done our best
    On different sides: what matters now?
    To-morrow we shall rest!
    Life lies behind. I might not care
    For only my own sake;
    But far away are other hearts,
    That this day's work will break.

    "Among New Hampshire's snowy hills,
    There pray for me to-night
    A woman, and a little girl
    With hair like golden light;"
    And at the thought, broke forth, at last,
    The cry of anguish wild,
    That would not longer be repressed
    "O God, my wife, my child!"

    "And," said the other dying man,
    "Across the Georgia plain,
    There watch and wait for me loved ones
    I ne'er shall see again:
    A little girl, with dark, bright eyes,
    Each day waits at the door;
    Her father's step, her father's kiss,
    Will never greet her more.

    "To-day we sought each other's lives:
    Death levels all that now;
    For soon before God's mercy seat
    Together we shall bow.
    Forgive each other while we may;
    Life's but a weary game,
    And, right or wrong, the morning sun
    Will find us, dead, the same."

    The dying lips the pardon breathe;
    The dying hands entwine;
    The last ray fades, and over all
    The stars from heaven shine;
    And the little girl with golden hair,
    And one with dark eyes bright,
    On Hampshire's hills, and Georgia's plain,
    Were fatherless that night!

  10. The Happiest Heart

    by John Vance Cheney

    Who drives the horses of the sun
    Shall lord it but a day;
    Better the lowly deed were done,
    And kept the humble way.

    The rust will find the sword of fame,
    The dust will hide the crown;
    Ay, none shall nail so high his name
    Time will not tear it down.

    The happiest heart that ever beat
    Was in some quiet breast
    That found the common daylight sweet,
    And left to Heaven the rest.

  11. When Milking-Time is Done

    Ferme à Venoix
    Ferme à Venoix
    by Christian Skredswig
    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    When milking-time is done, and over all
    This quiet Canadian inland forest home
    And wide rough pasture-lots the shadows come,
    And dews, with peace and twilight voices, fall,
    From moss-cooled watering-trough to foddered stall
    The tired plough-horses turn,—the barnyard loam
    Soft to their feet,—and in the sky's pale dome
    Like resonant chords the swooping night-jars call.

    The frogs, cool-fluting ministers of dream,
    Make shrill the slow brook's borders; pasture bars
    Down clatter, and the cattle wander through,—
    Vague shapes amid the thickets; gleam by gleam
    Above the wet grey wilds emerge the stars,
    And through the dusk the farmstead fades from view.

  12. Maid of the West-Land

    Madonna of the Prairie
    Madonna of the Prairie
    by W. H. D. Koerner
    by Robert J. C. Stead

    Heart that is free as the open air,
    Eyes like the beams of the morn that rise
    Over our prairies, bright and fair,
    Brow like the silver of sunset skies,
    Cheeks with a beauty that glorifies,
    Tresses of sunlight, through and through,
    Figure and form that we idolize,
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Hope that is broad as your face is rare,
    Yearning that unto the uttermost cries,
    Soul that itself is a breath of prayer,
    Heaven-sent spirit in womanly guise;
    Tender caresses that minimize
    The labors of life with their pain and rue,
    Loving affection that never dies—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Courage that rises to do and dare,
    Spell that entangles the sage and wise
    From venturesome toe to your crown of hair
    Ravishing beauties that hypnotize;
    Many the man for your favor vies,
    Well may he plead for the favor, too;
    Twentieth Century's greatest prize—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Maid of the West, in your wistful eyes,
    Tenderly deep as the western blue,
    The glorious hope of our future lies—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

  13. The Sod House on the Prairie

    The Homestead and Building of the Barbed Wire Fence
    The Homestead and Building of the Barbed Wire Fence
    by John Steuart Curry
    by Ellen P. Allerton

    A low sod house, a broad green prairie,
    And stately ranks of bannered corn;—
    'Twas there I took my dark-eyed Mary,
    And there our darling boy was born.

    The walls were low, the place was homely,
    But Mary sang from morn till night.
    The place beneath her touch grew comely;
    Her cheerful presence made it bright.

    Oh, life was sweet beyond all measure!
    No hour was dull, no day was long;
    Each task was easy, toil was pleasure,
    For love and hope were fresh and strong.

    How oft we sat at eve, foretelling
    The glories of that wide, new land!
    And gayly planned our future dwelling—
    For low sod house, a mansion grand.

    Alas! we little know how fleeting
    The joy that falls to human lot.
    While unseen hands were dirges beating,
    We smiled secure and heard them not.

    One day Death came and took my Mary;
    Another, and the baby died.
    And near the sod house on the prairie
    I laid my darlings, side by side.

    I could not stay. My heart was weary,
    And life a load too hard to bear.
    That low sod house was dreary, dreary,
    For love and hope lay buried there.

  14. My Old Prairie Home

    by Ed Blair

    Dear old home of my youth in the long, long ago,
    Where the sunshine each morn filled the air,
    Where the meadow lark rose from the tall prairie grass
    As it warbled its sweet carols there.
    Oh I think of that home dear old home far away
    That was then on the wild prairie wide,
    Where each night I was tucked in the old trundle bed
    On the floor by the old fireside.

    In my fancy I see once again the old home,
    Dear log house father built long ago,
    Its steep roof made of slabs and its chimney of stone,
    With my name roughly carved below.
    There it stood many years ere another was built
    On the prairie around anywhere,
    And its light was a guide to the traveler lone,
    And its doors ever welcomed him there.

    There at night music sweet from the old violin
    Floated out on the sweet, balmy air,
    While I drifted to sleep in the old trundle bed—
    Peaceful sleep without ever a care.
    Oh bring back again the old home of my youth
    Where the grass rolled like waves of the sea,
    Where the dear wild flowers bloomed, where the lark sang so sweet,
    Oh my old prairie home let me see!

    There the low muffled tone of the prairie hen's mate
    Floated in from the prairie around,
    And away in the distance the wild deer roamed free,
    Then unknown the fierce bay of the hound,
    And at noon dear Bob White from the hedge piped his strain,
    Coming night brought the dove's mournful lay,
    And the song of the cricket and Katy-did rang
    From the grass till the breaking of day.

  15. Crossing the Bar

    Moonlight Over the Dnieper
    Moonlight Over the Dnieper
    by Ivan Aivazovsky
    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    Sunset and evening star,
    And one clear call for me!
    And may there be no moaning of the bar,
    When I put out to sea,

    But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
    When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

    Twilight and evening bell,
    And after that the dark!
    And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark;

    For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
    I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.

  16. Comparison

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    The sky of brightest gray seems dark
    To one whose sky was ever white.
    To one who never knew a spark,
    Thro' all his life, of love or light,
    The grayest cloud seems over-bright.

    The robin sounds a beggar's note
    Where one the nightingale has heard,
    But he for whom no silver throat
    Its liquid music ever stirred,
    Deems robin still the sweetest bird.

  17. A Sculptor

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    As the ambitious sculptor, tireless, lifts
    Chisel and hammer to the block at hand,
    Before my half-formed character I stand
    And ply the shining tools of mental gifts.
    I'll cut away a huge, unsightly side,
    Of selfishness, and smooth to curves of grace
    The angles of ill-temper.

    And no trace
    Shall my sure hammer leave of silly pride.
    Chip after chip must fall from vain desires,
    And the sharp corners of my discontent
    Be rounded into symmetry, and lent
    Great harmony by faith that never tires.
    Unfinished still, I must toil on and on,
    Till the pale critic, Death, shall say, "'Tis done."

  18. Autumn

    Autumn...she is tranquil, deeply quiet,
    With a graceful, even moving;

    – Ruby Archer
    by Ruby Archer

    When, I wonder, shall I meet her,
    As I wander through the woodland,
    Meet the pensive maiden Autumn,
    With the eyes that look afar?
    I would welcome her and greet her,
    Gladly turn to her from Summer,
    As we leave the garish daylight
    For a single pallid star.

    She is tranquil, deeply quiet,
    With a graceful, even moving;
    And a benison of silence
    Falls about her where she goes.
    Wanton Summer was a-riot
    With impassioned song and blossom,
    Gay with glory, heartless ever,
    With a thorn for every rose.

    I shall meet the Autumn maiden—
    Here are signs that she is near me:
    On the hills a gauzy azure
    From her veil in gliding by;
    And her golden-rod is laden—
    Yellow plumes of starry masses—
    And the white, the purple asters
    For her coming footfall sigh.

    Yet I feel a half regretting
    For that lavish June-time sunlight,
    Every hour attuned to warbling,
    And with bee and blossom rife.—
    Hie away, and speed forgetting!
    I will seek my Autumn maiden.
    Wayward Summer is our dreaming;
    Sober Autumn—is our life.

  19. Old-Fashioned Letters

    by Edgar A. Guest

    Old-fashioned letters! How good they were!
    And nobody writes them now;
    Never at all comes in the scrawl
    On the written pages which told us all
    The news of town and the folks we knew,
    And what they had done or were going to do.
    It seems we've forgotten how
    To spend an hour with our pen in hand
    To write in the language we understand.

    Old-fashioned letters we used to get
    And ponder each fond line o'er;
    The glad words rolled like running gold,
    As smoothly their tales of joy they told,
    And our hearts beat fast with a keen delight
    As we read the news they were pleased to write
    And gathered the love they bore.
    But few of the letters that come to-day
    Are penned to us in the old-time way.

    Old-fashioned letters that told us all
    The tales of the far away;
    Where they'd been and the folks they'd seen;
    And better than any fine magazine
    Was the writing too, for it bore the style
    Of a simple heart and a sunny smile,
    And was pure as the breath of May.
    Some of them oft were damp with tears,
    But those were the letters that lived for years.

    Old-fashioned letters! How good they were!
    And, oh, how we watched the mails;
    But nobody writes of the quaint delights
    Of the sunny days and the merry nights
    Or tells us the things that we yearn to know—
    That art passed out with the long ago,
    And lost are the simple tales;
    Yet we all would happier be, I think,
    If we'd spend more time with our pen and ink.

  20. Song of the School Bell

    by John Edward Everett

    Kind neighbors, you and I are friends.
    And toiling for the selfsame ends,
    To help the children wiser grow,
    And teach them what they ought to know.

    Day after day, the winter through,
    I guard your sons and daughters true.
    Each day at nine I say, "hello",
    To the youthful world of joy and woe.
    Each day at nine are loudly sung
    Clear greetings from my iron tongue,
    While children rush with romp and race,
    As though to meet my fond embrace.
    Then through the hours they ply the mind
    To see what knowledge they may find—
    Sometimes with smile and radiant eye,
    Sometimes with frown and inward sigh.
    'Tis now with bright, now downcast, looks
    They bend their heads above their books.

    Kind neighbors, you and I are friends.
    And toiling for the selfsame ends,—
    To help the children wiser grow,
    And teach them what they ought to know.

  21. The Old Cane Mill

    by Nellie Gregg Tomlinson

    "What's sorghum?" Don't you know sorghum?
    My gran'son nigh sixteen,
    Don t boys know nothin' nowadays?
    Beats all I ever seen.
    Why sorghum's the bulliest stuff
    Wuz ever made ter eat.
    You spread it thick on homemade bread;
    It's most oncommon sweet.

    "Come from?" Wall yer jist better bet
    It don't come from no can.
    Jus' b'iled down juice from sorghum cane,
    Straight I'way 'lasses bran'.
    "What's cane?" It's some like corn, yer know,
    An' topped with plumes o' seed.
    Grows straight an' tall on yaller clay
    That wouldn't grow a weed.

    Long in September when 'twuz ripe,
    The cane-patch battle field
    Wuz charged by boys with wooden swords,
    Good temper wuz their shield.
    They stripped the stalks of all their leaves,
    Then men, with steel knives keen
    Slashed off the heads and cut the stalks
    An' piled them straight an' clean.

    The tops wuz saved ter feed the hens,
    Likewise fer nex' year's seed.
    The farmer allus has ter save
    Against the futur's need.
    The neighbors cum from miles erbout
    An' fetched the cane ter mill.
    They stacked it high betwixt two trees,
    At Gran'dads, on the hill.

    An' ol' hoss turned the cane mill sweep,
    He led hisself erroun.
    The stalks wuz fed inter the press,
    From them the sap wuz groun'.
    This juice run through a little trough
    Ter pans beneath a shed;
    There it wuz b'iled an' skimmed and b'iled,
    Till it wuz thick an' red.

    Then it wuz cooled an' put in bar'ls
    An' toted off to town
    While us kids got ter lick the pan,
    Which job wuz dun up brown.
    Gee whiz! but we did hev good times
    At taffy pullin' bees.
    We woun' the taffy roun' girls' necks—
    Bob wuz the biggest tease.

    Inside the furnace, on live coals,
    We het cane stalks red hot,
    Then hit 'em hard out on the groun'—
    Yer oughter hear 'em pop!
    Sometimes a barefoot boy would step
    Inter the skimmin's hole,
    Er pinch his fingers in the mill,
    Er fall off from the pole.

    When winter winds went whis'lin' through
    The door an' winder cracks,
    An' piled up snow wuz driftin'
    Till yer couldn't see yer tracks,
    Then we all drawed roun' the table
    An' passed the buckwheat cakes,
    Er mebbe it wuz good corn bread.
    "What's sorghum?" Good lan' sakes.

    Wall, son, yer hev my symperthy;
    Yer've missed a lot, I swan.
    Oh, sure yer dance an' joy-ride
    Frum ev'nin' untel dawn,
    Yer've football, skates an' golf ter he'p
    The passin' time ter kill,
    But give me mem'ry's boyhood days,
    Erroun' the ol' cane mill.

  22. Threshing Time

    Steam-Powered Threshing Machine
    Steam-Powered Threshing Machine
    by Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov
    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.

  23. In Flanders Fields

    In Flanders Fields
    In Flanders Fields
    by Ernest Clegg
    by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead.
    Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

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