The Ballad of William Sycamore

I have always loved this poem written by Stephen Vincent Benet in 1922.  It is a fine tribute to the pioneers who built a civilization out of a howling wilderness.

THE BALLAD OF WILLIAM SYCAMORE

by: Stephen Vincent Benét

MY FATHER, he was a mountaineer,
His fist was a knotty hammer;
He was quick on his feet as a running deer,
And he spoke with a Yankee stammer.
 
My mother, she was merry and brave,
And so she came to her labor,
With a tall green fir for her doctor grave
And a stream for her comforting neighbor.
 
And some are wrapped in the linen fine,
And some like a godling’s scion;
But I was cradled on twigs of pine
In the skin of a mountain lion.
 
And some remember a white, starched lap
And a ewer with silver handles;
But I remember a coonskin cap
And the smell of bayberry candles.
 
The cabin logs, with the bark still rough,
And my mother who laughed at trifles,
And the tall, lank visitors, brown as snuff,
With their long, straight squirrel-rifles.
 
I can hear them dance, like a foggy song,
Through the deepest one of my slumbers,
The fiddle squeaking the boots along
And my father calling the numbers.
 
The quick feet shaking the puncheon-floor,
And the fiddle squealing and squealing,
Till the dried herbs rattled above the door
And the dust went up to the ceiling.
 
There are children lucky from dawn till dusk,
But never a child so lucky!
For I cut my teeth on “Money Musk”
In the Bloody Ground of Kentucky! (more…)

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Published in: on September 15, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Ballad of William Sycamore  
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