Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CUTTING CORN IN VERMONT, by DANIEL LEAVENS CADY

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CUTTING CORN IN VERMONT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The farmer 'moves right up the line'
Last Line: "and ""set,"" with father, ""'round the hill."
Subject(s): Cattle; Corn; Farm Life; Vermont; Agriculture; Farmers

THE farmer "moves right up the line"
Through years of silly city scorn;
He plants new kinds of citron vine,
Invents new ways of scalding brine
And brand new ways of cutting corn;
I'd like to make this last my text,
For corn is "cut" in theory still,
And tell how grandpa used a "horse"
While father "set around the hill."

That "horse" was a sure a noble nag—
A sapling spruce, with two ash legs
Stuck through the butt; you'd set a jag
Of hills around it, then you'd drag
The pole along a dozen pegs;
It didn't have no wheels or gears,
No oil can that you had to fill,
And thousands used it 'till one day
Some sun-soul "set around the hill."

I've heard our forbears further back
Would take a sickle and—ker-slash,
The corn fell right and left, ker-whack;
And then they'd armful-up a stack
Which soon the wind tore all to smash;
They couldn't build a "standard" stook,
The kind that gives your eye a thrill,
They never, likely, saw a "horse"
Or dreamt of "setting 'round the hill."

And now the harvesting machine
Runs through the "maize lands," under power;
The great red dragon with his keen,
And noisy teeth bites off the green
Frumentum—miles of it per hour;
Your crop gets cut, but there it lays,
Like scantling, scattered 'round a mill;
The dragon can't horse-up a stook,
Nor, Mercy Me! "set 'round the hill."

How smart a hand-cut cornfield stands,
The stookums all one size and height!
Their tops turned down inside the bands,
The bands composed of two good strands
Of wheatstraw, special-thrashed and bright;
That's farming—work laid out and done,
I call it agronomic skill,
It shows why grandpa used a "horse"
And father "set around the hill."

Such fodder as our folks would get
From them bright bundles every year!
The sheep and yearlings used to set
Their muzzles into it and let
No other business interfere;
I never heard that strange word "orts"
Till I was big as Uncle Bill—
It's plain why grandpa used a "horse"
And father "set around the hill."

I'm not discussing silo feed,
But corn, real corn, the kind you husk;
The kind that meets a porker's need,
The long-eared kind you save for seed,
The kind it's fun to roast at dusk;
Yes; that's the kind I used to cut—
I see my shiny cutter still—
Once more I'm back by grandpa's "horse"
And "set," with father, "'round the hill."

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