John Crowe Ransom: Janet Waking

painting by Konstantin Razumov - from user pkfnf on liveinternet.ru

painting by Konstantin Razumov – from user pkfnf on liveinternet.ru

In this other well-known poem by Ransom, a little girl wakes up and finds that her hen has died, which causes her a great grief. The setting of this little childhood drama in a farm reflects the idyllic view of country life held by ‘Southern Agrarians’.

Janet Waking
By John Crowe Ransom

Beautifully Janet slept
Till it was deeply morning. She woke then
And thought about her dainty-feathered hen,
To see how it had kept.

One kiss she gave her mother,
Only a small one gave she to her daddy
Who would have kissed each curl of his shining baby;
No kiss at all for her brother.

“Old Chucky, Old Chucky!” she cried,
Running across the world upon the grass
To Chucky’s house, and listening. But alas,
Her Chucky had died.

It was a transmogrifying bee
Came droning down on Chucky’s old bald head
And sat and put the poison. It scarcely bled,
But how exceedingly

And purply did the knot
Swell with the venom and communicate
Its rigour! Now the poor comb stood up straight
But Chucky did not.

So there was Janet
Kneeling on the wet grass, crying her brown hen
(Translated far beyond the daughters of men)
To rise and walk upon it.

And weeping fast as she had breath
Janet implored us, “Wake her from her sleep!”
And would not be instructed in how deep
Was the forgetful kingdom of death.

Source of the poem: the Poetry Foundation, copied from Selected Poems, Third Edition, Revised and Enlarged, Alfred A. Knopf, 1978.

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