The Boy On The Farm

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Out in Oldham County once
Met a boy who showed me how
He could milk an old red cow.
Yes; he was n't any dunce.
Put me on an old-gray mare;
Rode me to an old mill, where
They were grinding corn. He filled
A big sack and then we sat
By the dam and there he killed
A black snake, as long as that.

Then he showed me how to row
In an old flat boat that leaked,
Where the dam was stained and streaked
With big lilies, white as snow.
Then he showed me how to swim
Jumping from a sycamore limb:
While he splashed around, why, I
Waded up and down the shore;
Then, when he was dressed and dry,
Mounted that old mare once more.

And he took the bag of meal
"That's for corn-cakes, " so he said:
"And it makes the grandest bread!
Cornbread. Ain't it heavy? Feel."
And he slung it on across
That old mare, who, with a toss
Of her tail, turned right for home.
On the way he showed me where
Hornets had their nest, like some
Foot-ball made of paper there.

And he showed me how to catch
Bumblebees and how to keep
Them from stinging; made a leap,
Caught one in a clover-patch;
And he showed me then where they
Stow their honey-bags away:
Caught two bees and was n't stung:
Took one's bag and gave it me,
And I put it on my tongue:
Sweet! yes sir, and smelt of bee.

Then he caught a locust; took
Its two wings, like some queer toy's;
Showed me how it made its noise;
Held it up and shook and shook
Till it rattled. And that night
Showed me, with a lantern light,
How the pond-toads puffed their throats,
Each one like a toy-balloon,
Swelling, piping reedy notes,
Making music for the moon.

No; he was n't any dunce;
No, sir. Why, he'd tell the time
By the sun, he could. And climb!
Climbed a great tall poplar once
Hundred feet or more, and straight
As the flag-pole at our gate.
When he's up there, took his hat,
Tossed it up and cried, "Hurrah!"
Bet you no man could do that;
No! not even my own Pa.

Lose him? Why, he'd tell his way
In the darkest night, he could;
In the deepest, darkest wood,
By the stars, he said: by day
Knew it by these lichens on
Trunks of trees. When I am grown
He's a-going to teach me all
Everything he knows; and I'm
Going there again this Fall
Live there, may be, all the time.

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