Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WASHING SHEEP IN VERMONT, by DANIEL LEAVENS CADY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

WASHING SHEEP IN VERMONT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: There's folks that look like other folks
Last Line: There's nothing, sure, like washing sheep.
Subject(s): Farm Life; Fields; Sheep; Shepherds & Shepherdesses; Vermont; Agriculture; Farmers; Pastures; Meadows; Leas

THERE'S folks that look like other folks,
And things germane to other things;
There's jokes that jibe with other jokes,
And kings as punk as other kings;
There's one thing, though, that's plumb unique—
Look up that word before you sleep—
There never was and never will be
Jest such a thing as washing sheep.

Of course, the sheep have gone, because,
I don't know why—I wish I did—
But I'm a-telling how it was
When I was jest a Windsor kid;
Full records of them tow-head days
Inside my memory box I keep—
I know there never was or will be
Jest such a thing as washing sheep.

You first have got to find a brook
Right straight beside the road, that makes
A deep-hole turn, and then you look
For withes and hemlock boards and stakes;
With them you build two rough-house yards
Each side the brook, jest where it's deep—
It takes a lot of work and what not
To set the stage for washing sheep.

Next day all hands start off at four
For Bald Hill pasture; six o'clock
Locates you out in Goshen Gore
A-shaking salt and hollering "Jock";
At last the flock files through the bars,
And 'long the road begins to creep;
It's ten or after when you're ready
To launderize the lovely sheep.

The washer, he's the one that's boss,
Stands facing up-stream, like a trout;
We boys, we poke the sheep across
To Jerdan's strand as they come out;
The way they wobble, though, and blat
Would make a woolen mill look cheap—
No, Sir; there never was or will be
Jest sech a thing as washing sheep.

That washer stands waist-deep in drink,
His frock is torn, his hat is gone;
He cannot see or speak or think,
But squeezes, scrubs and washes on;
He grabs a husky wether's horns,
And, as that wether gives a leap,
It's hard to tell for half a minute
Jest which is man and which is sheep.

The days' works helper throws 'em in,
And has to lift each lobster twice;
He rolls his eyes, unrolls his chin,
And strives to be a human vise;
He's on his back full half the time
And blacker than a chimbly sweep—
There's nothing like it, now or never,
There's nothing jest like washing sheep.

The getting-back-to-pasture part—
Is really worst of all: Oh! Lord;
We'd pile the "give-outs" on the cart
Until we had about a cord;
And when they all was back in feed,
I'll tell you, but you mustn't peep,
Them sheep was dirtier than before—
There's nothing, sure, like washing sheep.

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