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How John Quit The Farm
by [?]


Nobody on the old farm here but Mother, me and John,
Except, of course, the extry he’p when harvest-time comes on,–
And THEN, I want to say to you, we NEEDED he’p about,
As you’d admit, ef you’d a-seen the way the crops turned out!

A better quarter-section ner a richer soil warn’t found
Than this-here old-home place o’ ourn fer fifty miles around!–
The house was small–but plenty-big we found it from the day
That John–our only livin’ son–packed up and went away.

You see, we tuk sich pride in John–his mother more’n me–
That’s natchurul; but BOTH of us was proud as proud could be;
Fer the boy, from a little chap, was most oncommon bright,
And seemed in work as well as play to take the same delight.

He allus went a-whistlin’ round the place, as glad at heart
As robins up at five o’clock to git an airly start;
And many a time ‘fore daylight Mother’s waked me up to say–
“Jest listen, David!–listen!–Johnny’s beat the birds to-day!”

High-sperited from boyhood, with a most inquirin’ turn,–
He wanted to learn ever’thing on earth they was to learn:
He’d ast more plaguy questions in a mortal-minute here
Than his grandpap in Paradise could answer in a year!

And READ! w’y, his own mother learnt him how to read and spell;
And “The Childern of the Abbey”–w’y, he knowed that book as well
At fifteen as his parents!–and “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” too–
Jest knuckled down, the shaver did, and read ’em through and through.

At eighteen, Mother ‘lowed the boy must have a better chance-
That we ort to educate him, under any circumstance;
And John he j’ined his mother, and they ding-donged and kep’ on,
Tel I sent him off to school in town, half glad that he was gone.

But–I missed him–w’y, of course I did!–The Fall and Winter through
I never built the kitchen-fire, er split a stick in two,
Er fed the stock, er butchered, er swung up a gambrel-pin,
But what I thought o’ John, and wished that he was home ag’in.

He’d come, sometimes–on Sund’ys most–and stay the Sund’y out;
And on Thanksgivin’-Day he ‘peared to like to be about:
But a change was workin’ on him–he was stiller than before,
And didn’t joke, ner laugh, ner sing and whistle any more.

And his talk was all so proper; and I noticed, with a sigh,
He was tryin’ to raise side-whiskers, and had on a striped tie,
And a standin’-collar, ironed up as stiff and slick as bone;
And a breast-pin, and a watch and chain and plug-hat of his own.

But when Spring-weather opened out, and John was to come home
And he’p me through the season, I was glad to see him come,
But my happiness, that evening, with the settin’ sun went down,
When he bragged of “a position” that was offered him in town.

“But,” says I, “you’ll not accept it?” “W’y, of course I will,” says he.–
“This drudgin’ on a farm,” he says, “is not the life fer me;
I’ve set my stakes up higher,” he continued, light and gay,
“And town’s the place fer ME, and I’m a-goin’ right away!”

And go he did!–his mother clingin’ to him at the gate,
A-pleadin’ and a-cryin’; but it hadn’t any weight.
I was tranquiller, and told her ‘twarn’t no use to worry so,
And onclasped her arms from round his neck round mine–and let him go!

I felt a little bitter feelin’ foolin’ round about
The aidges of my conscience; but I didn’t let it out;–
I simply retch out, trimbly-like, and tuk the boy’s hand,
And though I didn’t say a word, I knowed he’d understand.