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Poem by Isabella Valancy Crawford


The Farmer's Daughter Cherry


The Farmer quit what he was at,
  The bee-hive he was smokin':
He tilted back his old straw hat--
  Says he, "Young man, you're jokin'!
O Lordy! (Lord, forgive the swar,)
  Ain't ye a cheeky sinner?
Come, if I give my gal thar,
  Where would _you_ find her dinner?

"Now look at _me_; I settl'd down
  When I was one and twenty,
Me, and my axe and Mrs. Brown,
  And stony land a plenty.
Look up thar! ain't that homestead fine,
  And look at them thar cattle:
I tell ye since that early time
  I've fit a tidy battle.

"It kinder wrestles down a man
  To fight the stuns and mire:
But I sort of clutch'd to thet thar plan
  Of David and Goliar.
Want was the mean old Philistine
  That strutted round the clearin',
Of pebbles I'd a hansum line,
  And flung 'em nothin' fearin'.

"They hit him square, right whar they ought,
  Them times I _had_ an arm!
I lick'd the giant and I bought
  A hundred acre farm.
My gal was born about them days,
  I was mowin' in the medder;
When some one comes along and says--
  "The wife's gone thro' the shadder!"

"Times thought it was God's will she went--
  Times thought she work'd too slavin'--
And for the young one that was sent,
  I took to steady savin'.
Jest cast your eye on that thar hill
  The sugar bush just tetches,
And round by Miller Jackson's mill,
  All round the farm stretches.

"'Ain't got a mind to give that land
  To any snip-snap feller
That don't know loam from mud or sand,
  Or if corn's blue or yaller.
I've got a mind to keep her yet--
  Last Fall her cheese and butter
Took prizes; sakes! I can't forget
  Her pretty pride and flutter.

"Why, you be off! her little face
  For me's the only summer;
Her gone, 'twould be a queer, old place,
  The Lord smile down upon her!
All goes with her, the house and lot--
  You'd like to get 'em, very!
I'll give 'em when this maple bears
  A bouncin' ripe-red cherry!"

The Farmer fixed his hat and specks
  And pursed his lips together,
The maple wav'd above his head,
  Each gold and scarlet feather:
The Teacher's Honest heart sank down:
  How could his soul be merry?
He knew--though teaching in a town,
  No maple bears a cherry.

Soft blew the wind; the great old tree,
  Like Saul to David's singing,
Nodded its jewelled crown, as he
  Swayed to the harp-strings' ringing;
A something rosy--not a leaf
  Stirs up amid the branches;
A miracle _may_ send relief
  To lovers fond and anxious!

O rosy is the velvet cheek
  Of one 'mid red leaves sitting!
The sunbeams played at hide-and-seek
  With the needles in her knitting.
"O Pa!" The Farmer prick'd his ears,
  Whence came that voice so merry?
(The Teacher's thoughtful visage clears)
  "The maple bears a cherry!"

The Farmer tilted back his hat:
  "Well, gal--as I'm a human,
I'll always hold as doctrine that
  Thar's nothin' beats a woman!
When crown'd that maple is with snow,
  And Christmas bells are merry,
I'll let you have her, Jack--that's so!
  Be sure you're good to Cherry!"



Isabella Valancy Crawford


Isabella Valancy Crawford's other poems:
  1. Bouche-Mignonne
  2. An Interregnum
  3. Said the Wind
  4. His Sweetheart
  5. Late Loved - Well Loved

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