BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND TWITTER BACKGROUNDS »

The Poets

July 12, 2009

When the Frost is on the Punkin


James Whitcomb Riley, a man who had a hand in bringing Dunbar to wider recognition of the American literary culture, is another poet whose works are almost all in dialect.

Here’s a further example of a poem done in dialect. As you read it keep in mind that Riley was born and raised in Greenfield, Indiana (hence the nickname: the Hoosier Poet). The Old National Road cut right through Indiana and brought many visitors across the boy's path, so much so that he acquired an ability to 'read' the dialect of where these visitors were from. I'm quite certain this bore influence on his works.


When the Frost is on the Punkin

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 the time 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 blossoms 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 overhead!—
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 cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such 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.

1 comment:

John W. May said...

Wow.

I just read this (also done by Riley- although not in dialect, as far as I can tell). The first stanza reminds me of a Thoreau mentality, really cool; the entire poem, for whatever reason, reminds me of Matthew Arnold’s Rugby Chapel (perhaps because of a sort of ‘noble feel’). Anyhow, here it is.


-Ike Walton's Prayer-

I crave, dear Lord,
No boundless hoard
Of gold and gear,
Nor jewels fine,
Nor lands, nor kine,
Nor treasure-heaps of anything.-
Let but a little hut be mine
Where at the hearthstore I may hear
The cricket sing,
And have the shine
Of one glad woman's eyes to make,
For my poor sake,
Our simple home a place divine;-
Just the wee cot-the cricket's chirr-
Love, and the smiling face of her.

I pray not for
Great riches, nor
For vast estates, and castle-halls,-
Give me to hear the bare footfalls
Of children o'er
An oaken floor,
New-risen with sunshine, or bespread
With but the tiny coverlet
And pillow for the baby's head;
And pray Thou, may
The door stand open and the day
Send ever in a gentle breeze,
With fragrance from the locust-trees,
And drowsy moan of doves, and blur
Of robin-chirps, and drove of bees,
With afterhushes of the stir
Of intermingling sounds, and then
The good-wife and the smile of her
Filling the silences again-
The cricket's call,
And the wee cot,
Dear Lord of all,
Deny me not!

I pray not that
Men tremble at
My power of place
And lordly sway, -
I only pray for simple grace
To look my neighbor in the face
Full honestly from day to day-
Yield me this thorny palm to hold,
And I'll not pray
For gold;-
The tanned face, garlanded with mirth,
It hath the kingliest smile on earth-
The swart brow, diamonded with sweat,
Hath never need of coronet.
And so I reach,
Dear Lord, to Thee,
And do beseech
Thou givest me
The wee cot, and the cricket's chirr,
Love, and the glad sweet face of her.

As of April 9th, 2010