27 September 2013

The Son

It is only sixteen short lines long, lines compact of tragedy, simplicity and double meaning....For sheer artistry, this poem has no superior in our literature.
--Alfred Kreymborg on "The Son" by Ridgely Torrence

The Son

Southern Ohio Market Town

I heard an old farm-wife,
  Selling some barley,
Mingle her life with life
  And the name “Charley.”

Saying: “The crop’s all in,      
  We’re about through now;
Long nights will soon begin,
  We’re just us two now.

“Twelve bushel at sixty cents,
  It’s all I carried—      
He sickened making fence;
  He was to be married—

“It feels like frost was near—
  His hair was curly.
The spring was late that year,      
  But the harvest early.”

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