Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford




No, Parson, ’tain’t been in my style,
    (Nor none ov my relations)
Tew dig about the gnarly roots
    Ov prophetic spekkleations,
Tew see what Malachai meant;
    Or Solomon was hintin’;
Or reound what jog o’Furtur’s road
    Isaiah was a-squintin’. [Page 173]

I’ve lost my rest a-keepin’ out
    The hogs from our cowcumbers;
But never lost a wink, you bet,
    By wrastlin’ over Numbers.
I never took no comfort when
    The year was bald with losses,
A-spekkleatin’ on them chaps
    That rode them varus hosses.

It never gave my soul a boost
    When grief an’ it was matin’,
Tew figger out that that thar Pope
    Wus reely twins with Satan.
I took no stock in countin’ up
    How menny hed ov cattle
From Egypt’s ranches Moses drove;
    I never fit a battle
On p’ints that frequently gave rise
    Tew pious spat an’ grumble,
An’ makes the brethren clinch an’ yell
    In spiritooal rough-an’ tumble.

I never bet on Paul agin
    The argyments ov Peter,
I never made the good old book
    A kind ov moral teeter;
Tew pass a choreless hour away,
    An’ get the evenin’ over;
I swallered it jest as it stood,
    From cover clar tew cover. [Page 174]

Hain’t had no time tew disputate,
    Except with axe an’ arm,
With stump an’ rampike and with stuns,
    Upon my half clar’d farm.
An’ when sech argyments as them—
    Fill six days out ov seven;
A man on Sabbath wants tew crawl
    By quiet ways tew heaven.

Again he gets the waggon out,
    An’ hitches up the sorrels,
An’ rides ten miles tew meetin’, he
    Ain’t braced for pious quarrels:
No, sir, he aint! that waggon rolls
    From corduroy to puddle,
An’ that thar farmer gets his brains
    Inter an easy muddle.

His back is stiff from six days’ toil—
    So God takes hold an’ preaches,
In boughs ov rustlin’ maple an’
    In whisperin’ leaves ov beeches:
Sez He tew that thar farmin’ chap
    (Likewise tew the old woman),
“I guess I’m built tew comprehend
    That you an’ her be’s human!”

“So jest take hold on this har day,
    Recowperate yer muscle;
Let up a mite this day on toil,
    ’Taint made for holy bustle. [Page 175]
Let them old sorrels jog along,
    With mighty slack-like traces;
Half dreamin’, es my sunbeams fleck
    Their venerable faces.

“I guess they did their share ov work,
    Since Monday’s dew was hoary;
Don’t try tew lick ’em tew a trot
    Upon the road tew Glory!
Jest let ’em laze a spell whar thick
    My lily-buds air blowin’:
An’ whar My trees cast shadders on
    My silver creeklet flowin’.

“An’ while their red, rough tongues push back
    The stems ov reed an’ lily,
Jest let ’em dream ov them thar days
    When they was colt an’ filly,
An’ spekkleate, es fetlock deep
    They eye my cool creek flowin’,
On whar I loosed it from My hand,
    Where be its crisp waves goin’.
An’ how in snow-white lily cup
    I built them yaller fires,
An’ bronz’d them reeds that rustle up
    Agin the waggon tires.

“An’ throw a forrard eye along
    Where that bush roadway passes,
A-spekkleating on the chance—
    Ov nibbling road-side grasses. [Page 176]
Jest let them lines rest on thar necks—
    Restrain yer moral twitters—
An’ paste this note inside yer hat—
    I talk tew all My critters!

“Be they on four legs or on two,
    In broadcloth, scales or feathers,
No matter what may be the length
    Ov all their mental tethers:
In ways mayn’t suit the minds ov them
    That thinks themselves thar betters.
I talk tew them in simple style,
    In words ov just three letters,—
Spell’d out in lily-blow an’ reed,
    In soft winds on them blowin’,
In juicy grass by wayside streams,
    In coolin’ waters flowin’.

“An’ so jest let them sorrels laze
    My ripplin’ silver creek in;
They’re listenin’ in thar own dumb way,
    An’ I—Myself—am speakin’;
Friend Stebbens, don’t you feel your soul
    In no sort ov dejection;
You’ll get tew meetin’ quick enough,
    In time for the—collection.” [Page 177]