Classic and Contemporary Poetry
RUBAIYAT OF DOC SIFERS, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: If you don't know doc sifers I'll jes' argy, here and now
Last Line: Tamam
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Country Life; Forests; Physicians; Sickness; Woods; Doctors; Illness
IF you don't know Doc SIFERS I'll jes' argy, here and now,
You've bin a mighty little while about here, anyhow,
'Cause Doc he's rid these roads and woods -- er swum 'em, now and then --
And practised in this neighberhood sence hain't no tellin' when!
In radius o' fifteen mil'd, all p'ints o' compass round,
No man er woman, chick er child, er team, on top o' ground,
But knows him -- yes, and got respects and likin' fer him, too,
Fer all his so-to-speak dee-fects o' genius showin' through!
Some claims he's absent-minded; some has said they wuz afeard
To take his powders when he come and dosed 'em out, and 'peared
To have his mind on somepin' else -- like County Ditch, er some
New way o' tannin' mussrat-pelts, er makin' butter come.
He's cur'ous -- they hain't no mistake about it! -- but he's got
Enough o' extry brains to make a jury -- like as not.
They's no describin' Sifers, -- fer, when all is said and done,
He's jes' hisse'f Doc Sifers -- ner they hain't no other one!
Doc's allus sociable, polite, and 'greeable, you'll find --
Pervidin' ef you strike him right and nothin' on his mind, --
Like in some hurry, when they've sent fer Sifers quick, you see,
To 'tend some sawmill-accident, er picnic jamboree;
Er when the lightin' 's struck some harebrained harvest-hand; er in
Some 'tempt o' suicidin' -- where they'd ort to try ag'in!
I've knowed Doc haul up from a trot and talk a' hour er two
When railly he'd a-ort o' not a-stopped fer "Howdy-do!"
And then, I've met him 'long the road, a-lopin', -- starin' straight
Ahead, -- and yit he never knowed me when I hollered "Yate,
Old Saddlebags!" all hearty-like, er "Who you goin' to kill?"
And he'd say nothin' -- only hike on faster, starin' still!
I'd bin insulted, many a time, ef I jes' wuzn't shore
Doc didn't mean a thing. And I'm not tetchy any more
Sence that-air day, ef he'd a-jes' a-stopped to jaw with me,
They'd bin a little dorter less in my own fambily!
Times now, at home, when Sifers' name comes up, I jes' let on,
You know, 'at I think Doc's to blame, the way he's bin and gone
And disapp'inted folks -- 'Ll-jee-mun-nee! you'd ort to then
Jes' hear my wife light into me -- "ongratefulest o' men!"
'Mongst all the women -- mild er rough, splendiferous er plain,
Er them with sense, er not enough to come in out the rain, --
Jes' ever' shape and build and style o' women, fat er slim --
They all like Doc, and got a smile and pleasant word fer him!
Ner hain't no horse I've ever saw but what'll neigh and try
To sidle up to him, and paw, and sense him, ear-and-eye:
Then jes' a tetch o' Doc's old pa'm, to pat 'em, er to shove
Along their nose -- and they're as ca'm as any cooin' dove!
And same with dogs, -- take any breed, er strain, er pedigree,
Er racial caste 'at can't concede no use fer you er me, --
They'll putt all predju-dice aside in Doc's case and go in
Kahoots with him, as satisfied as he wuz kith-and-kin!
And Doc's a wonder, trainin' pets! -- He's got a chicken-hawk,
In kind o' half-cage, where he sets out in the gyarden-walk,
And got that wild bird trained so tame, he'll loose him, and he'll fly
Clean to the woods! -- Doc calls his name -- and he'll come, by and by!
Same says no money down 'ud buy that bird o' Doc. -- Ner no
Inducement to the bird, says I, 'at he'd let Sifers go!
And Doc he say 'at he's content -- long as a bird o' prey
Kin 'bide him, it's a compliment, and takes it thataway.
But, gittin' back to docterin' -- all the sick and in distress,
And old and pore, and weak and small, and lone and motherless, --
I jes' tell you I 'preciate the man 'at's got the love
To 'go ye forth and ministrate!" as Scriptur' tells us of.
Dull times, Doc jes' mianders round, in that old rig o' his:
And hain't no tellin' where he's bound ner guessin' where he is;
He'll drive, they tell, jes' thataway fer maybe six er eight
Days at a stretch; and neighbers say he's bin clean round the State.
He picked a' old tramp up, one trip, 'bout eighty mil'd from here,
And fetched him home and k-yored his hip, and kep' him 'bout a year;
And feller said -- in all his ja'nts round this terreschul ball
'At no man wuz a circumstance to Doc! -- he topped 'em all! --
Said, bark o' trees 's a' open book to Doc, and vines and moss
He read like writin' -- with a look knowed ever' dot and cross:
Said, stars at night wuz jes' as good's a compass: said, he s'pose
You couldn't lose Doc in the woods the darkest night that blows!
Said, Doc'll tell you, purty clos't, by underbresh and plants,
How fur off warter is, -- and 'most perdict the sort o' chance
You'll have o' findin' fish; and how they're liable to bite,
And whether they're a-bitin' now, er only after night.
And, whilse we're talkin' fish, -- I mind they formed a fishin'-crowd
(When folks could fish 'thout gittin' fined, and seinin' wuz
O' leadin' citizens, you know, to go and seine "Old Blue" --
But hadn't no big seine, and so -- w'y, what wuz they to do? . . .
And Doc he say he thought 'at he could knit a stitch or two --
"Bring the materials to me -- 'at's all I'm astin' you!"
And down he sets -- six weeks, i jing! and knits that seine plum done --
Made corks too, brails and ever'thing -- good as a boughten one!
Doc's public sperit -- when the sick's not takin' all his time
And he's got some fer politics -- is simple yit sublime: --
He'll talk his principles -- and they air honest; -- but the sly
Friend strikes him first, election-day, he'd 'commodate, er die!
And yit, though Doc, as all men knows, is square straight up and down,
That vote o' his is -- well, I s'pose -- the cheapest one in town; --
A fact 'at's sad to verify, as could be done on oath --
I've voted Doc myse'f -- And I was criminal fer both!
You kin corrupt the ballot-box -- corrupt yourse'f, as well --
Corrupt some neighbers, -- but old Doc's as oncorruptible
As Holy Writ. So putt a pin right there! -- Let Sifers be,
I jucks! he wouldn't vote ag'in' his own worst inimy!
When Cynthy Eubanks laid so low with fever, and Doc Glenn
Told Euby Cynth 'ud haf to go -- they sends fer Sifers then! . . .
Doc sized the case: "She's starved," says he, "fer warter -- yes, and
The treatment 'at she'll git from me's all she kin drink and eat!"
He orders Euby then to split some wood, and take and build
A fire in kitchen-stove, and git a young spring-chicken killed;
And jes' whirled in and th'owed his hat and coat there on the bed,
And warshed his hands and sailed in that-air kitchen, Euby said,
And biled that chicken-broth, and got that dinner -- all complete
And clean and crisp and good and hot as mortal ever eat!
And Cynth and Euby both'll say 'at Doc'll git as good
Meals-vittles up, jes' any day, as any woman could!
Time Sister Abbick tuk so bad with striffen o' the lung,
P'tracted Meetin', where she had jes' shouted, prayed, and sung
All winter long, through snow and thaw, -- when Sifers come, says he:
"No, M'lissy; don't poke out your raw and cloven tongue at me! --
"I know, without no symptoms but them injarubber-shoes
You promised me to never putt a fool-foot in ner use
At purril o' your life!" he said. "And I won't save you now,
Onless -- here on your dyin' bed -- you consecrate your vow!"
Without a-claimin' any creed, Doc's rail religious views
Nobody knows -- ner got no need o' knowin' whilse he choose
To be heerd not of man, ner raise no loud, vain-glorious prayers
In crowded marts, er public ways, er -- i jucks, anywheres! --
'Less'n it is away deep down in his own heart, at night,
Facin' the storm, when all the town's a-sleepin' snug and tight --
Him splashin' hence from scenes o' pride and sloth and gilded show,
To some pore sufferer's bedside o' anguish, don't you know!
Er maybe dead o' winter -- makes no odds to Doc, -- he's got
To face the weather ef it takes the hide off! 'cause he'll not
Lie out o' goin' and p'tend he's sick hisse'f -- like some
'At I could name 'at folks might send fer and they'd never come!
Like pore Phin Hoover -- when he goes to that last dance o' his!
That Chris'mus when his feet wuz froze -- and Doc saved all they is
Left of 'em -- "'Nough," as Phin say now, "to track me by, and be
A advertisement, anyhow, o' what Doc's done fer me! --
"When he come -- knife-and-saw" -- Phin say, "I knowed, ef I'd the
'At Doc 'ud fix me up some way, ef nothin' but my trunk
Wuz left, he'd fasten casters in, and have me, spick-and-span,
A-skootin' round the streets ag'in as spry as any man!"
Doc sees a patient's got to quit -- he'll ease him down serene
As dozin' off to sleep, and yit not dope him with morpheen. --
He won't tell what -- jes' 'lows 'at he has "airnt the right to sing
'O grave, where is thy victery! O death, where is thy sting!'"
And, mind ye now! -- it's not in scoff and scorn, by long degree,
'At Doc gits things like that-un off: it's jes' his shority
And total faith in Life to Come, -- w'y, "from that Land o' Bliss,"
He says, "we'll haf to chuckle some, a-lookin' back at this!"
And, still in p'int, I mind, one night o' 'nitiation at
Some secert lodge, 'at Doc set right down on 'em, square and flat,
When they mixed up some Scriptur' and wuz funnin'-like -- w'y, he
Lit in 'em with a rep'imand 'at ripped 'em, A to Z!
And onc't -- when gineral loafin'-place wuz old Shoe-Shop -- and all
The gang 'ud git in there and brace their backs ag'inst the wall
And settle questions that had went onsettled long enough, --
Like "wuz no Heav'n -- ner no torment" -- jes' talkin' awful rough!
There wuz Sloke Haines and old Ike Knight and Coonrod Simmes -- all three
Ag'inst the Bible and the Light, and scoutin' Deity.
"Science," says Ike, "it DIMonstrates -- it takes nobody's word --
Scriptur' er not, -- it 'vestigates ef sich things could occurred!"
Well, Doc he heerd this, -- he'd drapped in a minute, fer to git
A tore-off heel pegged on ag'in, -- and, as he stood on it
And stomped and grinned, he says to Ike, "I s'pose now, purty soon
Some lightin'-bug, indignant-like, 'll 'vestigate the moon! . . .
"No, Ike," says Doc, "this world hain't saw no brains like yourn and mine
With sense enough to grasp a law 'at takes a brain divine. --
I've bared the thoughts of brains in doubt, and felt their finest pulse, --
And mortal brains jes' won't turn out omnipotent results!"
And Doc he's got respects to spare the rich as well as pore --
Says he, "I'd turn no millionnaire onsheltered from my door." --
Says he, "What's wealth to him in quest o' honest friends to back
And love him fer hisse'f? -- not jes' because he's made his jack!"
And childern. -- Childern? Lawzy-day! Doc worships 'em! -- You
Round at his house and ast 'em -- they're a-swarmin' there -- that's
They're in his Lib'ry -- in best room -- in kitchen -- fur and near, --
In office too, and, I p'sume, his operatin'-cheer!
You know they's men 'at bees won't sting? -- They's plaguy few, -- But
He's one o' them. -- And same, i jing! with childern; -- they jes'
Round Sifers natchurl! -- in his lap, and in his pockets, too,
And in his old fur mitts and cap, and heart as warm and true!
It's cur'ous, too, -- 'cause Doc hain't got no childern of his own --
'Ceptin' the ones he's tuk and brought up, 'at's bin left alone
And orphans when their father died, er mother, -- and Doc he
Has he'pped their dyin' satisfied. -- "The child shall live with me
"And Winniferd, my wife," he'd say, and stop right there, and cle'r
His th'oat, and go on thinkin' way some mother-hearts down here
Can't never feel their own babe's face a-pressin' 'em, ner make
Their naked breasts a restin'-place fer any baby's sake.
Doc's Lib'ry -- as he calls it, -- well, they's ha'f-a-dozen she'ves
Jam-full o' books -- I couldn't tell how many -- count yourse'ves!
One whole she'f's Works on Medicine! and most the rest's about
First Settlement, and Indians in here, -- 'fore we driv 'em out. --
And Plutarch's Lives -- and life also o' Dan'el Boone, and this-
Here Mungo Park, and Adam Poe -- jes' all the lives they is!
And Doc's got all the novels out, -- by Scott and Dickison
And Cooper. -- And, I make no doubt, he's read 'em ever' one!
Onc't, in his office, settin' there, with crowd o' eight er nine
Old neighbers with the time to spare, and Doc a-feelin' fine,
A man rid up from Rollins, jes' fer Doc to write him out
Some blame' p'scription -- done, I guess, in minute, nigh about. --
And I says, "Doc, you 'pear so spry, jes' write me that recei't
You have fer bein' happy by, -- fer that 'ud shorely beat
Your medicine!" says I. -- And quick as s' cat! Doc turned and writ
And handed me: "Go he'p the sick, and putt your heart in it."
And then, "A-talkin' furder 'bout that line o' thought," says he,
"Ef we'll jes' do the work cut out and give' to you and me,
We'll lack no joy, ner appetite, ner all we'd ort to eat,
And sleep like childern ever' night -- as puore and ca'm and sweet."
Doc has bin 'cused o' offishness and lack o' talkin' free
And extry friendly; but he says, "I'm 'feard o' talk," says he, --
"I've got," he says, "a natchurl turn fer talkin' fit to kill. --
The best and hardest thing to learn is trick o' keepin' still."
Doc kin smoke, and I s'pose he might drink licker -- jes' fer fun.
He says, "You smoke, you drink all right; but I don't -- neether
Says, "I like whisky -- 'good old rye' -- but like it in its place,
Like that-air warter in your eye, er nose there on your face."
Doc's bound to have his joke! The day he got that off on me
I jes' had sold a load o' hay at "Scofield's Livery,"
And tolled Doc in the shed they kep' the hears't in, where I'd hid
The stuff 'at got me "out o' step," as Sifers said it did.
Doc hain't, to say, no "rollin' stone," and yit he hain't no hand
Fer 'cumulatin'. -- Home's his own, and scrap o' farmin'-land --
Enough to keep him out the way when folks is tuk down sick
The suddentest -- 'most any day they want him 'special quick.
And yit Doc loves his practise; ner don't, wilful, want to slight
No call -- no matter who -- how fur away -- er day er night. --
He loves his work -- he loves his friends -- June, Winter, Fall, and Spring:
His lovin' -- facts is -- never ends; he loves jes' ever'thing. . . .
'Cept -- keepin' books. He never sets down no accounts. -- He hates,
The worst of all, collectin' debts -- the worst, the more he waits. --
I've knowed him, when at last he had to dun a man, to end
By makin' him a loan -- and mad he hadn't more to lend.
When Pence's Drug Store ust to be in full blast, they wuz some
Doc's patients got things frekantly there, charged to him, i gum! --
Doc run a bill there, don't you know, and allus when he squared,
He never questioned nothin', -- so he had his feelin's spared.
Now sich as that, I hold and claim, hain't 'scusable -- it's not
Perfessional! -- It's jes' a shame 'at Doc hisse'f hain't got
No better business-sense! That's why lots 'd respect him more,
And not give him the clean go-by fer other doctors. Shore!
This-here Doc Glenn, fer instance; er this little jack-leg Hall; --
They're business -- folks respects 'em fer their business more'n all
They ever knowed, er ever will, 'bout medicine. -- Yit they
Collect their money, k-yore er kill. -- They're business, anyway!
You ast Jake Dunn: -- he's worked it out in figgers. -- He kin show
Stastistics how Doc's airnt about three fortunes in a row, --
Ever' ten-year' hand-runnin' straight -- three of 'em -- thirty year'
'At Jake kin count and 'lucidate o' Sifer's practise here.
Yit -- "Praise the Lord," says Doc, "we've got out little home!" says he --
"(It's railly Winniferd's, but what she owns, she sheers with me.)
We' got our little gyarden-spot, and peach and apple trees,
And stable, too, and chicken-lot, and eighteen hive' o' bees."
You call it anything you please, but it's witchcraft -- the power
'At Sifers has o' handlin' bees! -- He'll watch 'em by the hour --
Mix right amongst 'em, mad and hot and swarmin'! -- yit they won't
Sting him, er want to -- 'pear to not, -- at least I know they
With me and bees they's no p'tense o' socialbility --
A dad-burn bee 'ud climb a fence to git a whack at me!
I s'pose no thing 'at's got a sting is railly satisfied
It's sharp enough, ontel, i jing! he's honed it on my hide!
And Doc he's allus had a knack inventin' things. -- Dee-vised
A windlass wound its own se'f back as it run down: and s'prised
Their new hired girl with clothes-line, too, and clothes-pins, all in
Purt' nigh all left fer her to do wuz git her primpin' done!
And onc't, I mind, in airly Spring, and tappin' sugar trees,
Doc made a dad-burn little thing to sharpen spiles with -- these-
Here wood'-spouts 'at the peth's punched out, and driv' in where they bore
The auger-holes. He sharpened 'bout a million spiles er more!
And Doc's the first man ever swung a bucket on a tree
Instid o' troughs; and first man brung grained sugar -- so's 'at he
Could use it fer his coffee, and fer cookin', don't you know. --
Folks come clean up from Pleasantland 'fore they'd believe it, though!
And all Doc's stable-doors onlocks and locks theirse'ves -- and gates
The same way; -- all rigged up like clocks, with pulleys, wheels, and weights, -
So, 's Doc says, "Drivin' out, er in, they'll open; and they'll
All quiet-like, shet up ag'in like little gentlemen!"
And Doc 'ud made a mighty good detective. -- Neighbers all
Will testify to that -- er could, ef they wuz legal call:
His theories on any crime is worth your listenin' to. --
And he has hit 'em, many a time, long 'fore established true.
At this young druggist Wenfield Pence's trial fer his life,
On primy faishy evidence o' pizonin' his wife,
Doc's testimony saved and cle'red and 'quitted him and freed
Him so's he never even 'peared cog-nizant of the deed!
The facts wuz -- Sifers testified, -- at inquest he had found
The stummick showed the woman died o' pizon, but had downed
The dos't herse'f, -- because amount and cost o' drug imployed
No druggist would, on no account, 'a' lavished and distroyed!
Doc tracked a blame-don burglar down, and nailed the scamp, to boot,
But told him ef he'd leave the town he wouldn't prosecute.
He traced him by a tied-up thumb-print in fresh putty, where
Doc glazed it. Jes' that's how he come to track him to his lair!
Doc's jes' a leetle too inclined, some thinks, to overlook
The criminal and vicious kind we'd ort to bring to book
And punish, 'thout no extry show o' sympathizin', where
They hain't showed none fer us, you know. But he takes issue there:
Doc argies 'at "The Red-eyed Law," as he says, "ort to learn
To lay a mighty leenient paw on deeds o' sich concern
As only the Good Bein' knows the wherefore of, and spreads
His hands above accused and sows His mercies on their heads."
Doc even holds 'at murder hain't no crime we got a right
To hang a man fer -- claims it's taint o' lunacy, er quite. --
'Hold sich a man responsibul fer murder," Doc says, -- "then,
When he's hung, where's the rope to pull them sound-mind jurymen?
'It's in a nutshell -- all kin see," says Doc, -- "it's cle'r the Law's
As ap' to err as you er me, and kill without a cause:
The man most innocent o' sin I've saw, er 'spect to see,
Wuz servin' a life-sentence in the penitentchury."
And Doc's a whole hand at a fire! -- directin' how and where
To set your ladders, low er higher, and what first duties air, --
Like formin' warter-bucket-line; and best man in the town
To chop holes in old roofs, and mine defective chimblies down:
Er durin' any public crowd, mass-meetin', er big day,
Where ladies ortn't be allowed, as I've heerd Sifers say, --
When they's a suddent rush somewhere, it's Doc's voice, ca'm and cle'r,
Says, "Fall back, men, and give her air! -- that's all she's faintin' fer."
The sorriest I ever feel fer Doc is when some show
Er circus comes to town and he'll not git a chance to go.
'Cause he jes' natchurly delights in circuses -- clean down
From tumblers, in their spangled tights, to trick-mule and Old Clown.
And ever'body knows it, too, how Doc is, thataway! . . .
I mind a circus onc't come through -- wuz there myse'f that day. --
Ring-master cracked his whip, you know, to start the ridin' -- when
In runs Old Clown and hollers "Whoa! -- Ladies and gentlemen
"Of this vast audience, I fain would make inquiry cle'r,
And learn, find out, and ascertain -- Is Doctor Sifers here?"
And when some fool-voice bellers down: "He is! He's settin' in
Full view o' ye!" "Then," says the Clown, "the circus may begin!"
Doc's got a temper; but, he says, he's learnt it which is boss,
Yit has to watch it, more er less. . . . I never seen him cross
But onc't, enough to make him swear; -- milch-cow stepped on his toe,
And Doc ripped out "I doggies!" -- There's the only case I know.
Doc says that's what your temper's fer -- to hold back out o' view,
And learn it never to occur on out ahead o' you. --
"You lead the way," says Sifers -- "git your temper back in line --
And furdest back the best, ef it's as mean a one as mine!"
He hates contentions -- can't abide a wrangle er dispute
O' any kind; and he 'ull slide out of a crowd and skoot
Up some back-alley 'fore he'll stand and listen to a furse
When ary one's got upper-hand and t'other one's got worse.
Doc says: "I 'spise, when pore and weak and awk'ard talkers fails,
To see it's them with hardest cheek and loudest mouth pervails. --
A' all-one-sided quarr'l 'll make me biassed, mighty near, --
'Cause ginerly the side I take's the one I never hear."
What 'peals to Doc the most and best is "seein' folks agreed,
And takin' ekal interest and universal heed
O' ever'body else's words and idies -- same as we
Wuz glad and chirpy as the birds -- jes' as we'd ort to be!"
And paterotic! Like to git Doc started, full and fair,
About the war, and why 't'uz fit, and what wuz 'complished there;
"And who wuz wrong," says Doc, "er right, 't'uz waste o' blood and
All prophesied in Black and White fer years and years and years!"
And then he'll likely kind o' tetch on old John Brown, and dwell
On what his warnin's wuz; and ketch his breath and cough, and tell
On down to Lincoln's death. And then -- well, he jes' chokes and quits
With "I must go now, gentlemen!" and grabs his hat, and gits!
Doc's own war-rickord wuzn't won so much in line o' fight
As line o' work and nussin' done the wownded, day and night. --
His wuz the hand, through dark and dawn, 'at bound their wownds, and laid
As soft as their own mother's on their forreds when they prayed. . . .
His wuz the face they saw the first -- all dim, but smilin' bright,
As they come to and knowed the worst, yit saw the old Red-White-And-Blue
where Doc had fixed it where they'd see it wavin' still,
Out through the open tent-flap there, er 'crost the winder-sill.
And some's a-limpin' round here yit -- a-waitin' Last Review, --
'Ud give the pensions 'at they git, and pawn their crutches, too,
To he'p Doc out, ef he wuz pressed financial' -- same as he
Has allus he'pped them when distressed -- ner never tuk a fee.
Doc never wuz much hand to pay attention to p'tense
And fuss-and-feathers and display in men o' prominence:
"A railly great man," Sifers 'lows, "is not the out'ard dressed --
All uniform, salutes and bows, and swellin' out his chest.
"I met a great man onc't," Doc says, "and shuk his hand," says he,
"And he come 'bout in one, I guess, o' disapp'intin' me --
He talked so common-like, and brought his mind so cle'r in view
And simple-like, I purt' nigh thought, 'I'm best man o' the two!'"
Yes-sir! Doc's got convictions and old-fashioned kind o' ways
And idies 'bout this glorious Land o' Freedom; and he'll raise
His hat clean off, no matter where, jes' ever' time he sees
The Stars and Stripes a-floatin' there and flappin' in the breeze.
And tunes like old "Red-White-and-Blue" 'll fairly drive him wild,
Played on the brass band, marchin' through the streets! Jes' like a child
I've saw that man, his smile jes' set, all kind o' pale and white,
Bareheaded, and his eyes all wet, yit dancin' with delight!
And yit, that very man we see all trimbly, pale and wann,
Give him a case o' surgery, we'll see another man! --
We'll do the trimblin' then, and we'll git white around the gills --
He'll show us nerve o' nerves, and he 'ull show us skill o' skills!
Then you could toot your horns and beat your drums and bang your guns,
And wave your flags and march the street, and charge, all Freedom's sons!
And Sifers then, I bet my hat, 'ud never flinch a hair,
But, stiddy-handed, 'tend to that pore patient layin' there.
And Sifers' eye's as stiddy as that hand o' his! -- He'll shoot
A' old-style rifle, like he has, and smallest bore, to boot,
With any fancy rifles made to-day, er expert shot
'At works at shootin' like a trade -- and all some of 'em's got!
Let 'em go right out in the woods with Doc, and leave their "traps"
And blame' glass-balls and queensware-goods, and see how Sifers draps
A squirrel out the tallest tree. -- And 'fore he fires he'll say
Jes' where he'll hit him -- yes, sir-ee! And he's hit thataway!
Let 'em go out with him, i jucks! with fishin'-pole and gun, --
And ekal chances, fish and ducks, and take the rain, er sun,
Jes' as it pours, er as it blinds the eyesight; then I guess
'At they'd acknowledge, in their minds, their disadvantages.
And yit he'd be the last man out to flop his wings and crow
Insultin'-like, and strut about above his fallen foe! --
No-sir! the hand 'at tuk the wind out o' their sails 'ud be
The very first they grabbed, and grinned to feel sich sympathy.
Doc gits off now and then and takes a huntin'-trip somewhere
'Bout Kankakee, up 'mongst the lakes -- sometimes'll drift round there
In his canoe a week er two; then paddle clean on back
By way o' old Wabash and Blue, with fish -- all he kin pack, --
And wild ducks -- some with feathers on 'em yit, and stuffed with grass.
And neighbers -- all knows he's bin gone -- comes round and gits a bass --
A great big double-breasted "rock," er "black," er maybe pair
Half fills a' ordinary crock. . . . Doc's fish'll give out there
Long 'fore his ducks! -- But folks'll smile and blandish him, and make
Him tell and tell things! -- all the while enjoy 'em jes' fer sake
O' pleasin' him; and then turn in and la'nch him from the start
A-tellin' all the things ag'in they railly know by heart.
He's jes' a child, 's what Sifers is! And-sir, I'd ruther see
That happy, childish face o' his, and puore simplicity,
Than any shape er style er plan o' mortals otherwise --
With perfect faith in God and man a-shinin' in his eyes.
Other Poems of Interest...