Poetry of Kansas

Farmer John.

"If I'd nothing to do," said Farmer John,
    "To fret or to bother me___
Were I but rid of this mountain of work,.
    What a good man I could be."
"The pigs get out, and the cows get in
    Where they have no right to be:
And the weeds in the garden and in the corn___
    Why, they fairly frighten me."
"It worries me out of temper quite,
    And well nigh out of my head.
What a curse it is that a man must toil'
    Like this for his daily bread."
But Farmer John broke his leg,
    And was kept for many a week
A helpless and an idle man;___
    Was he therefore mild and meek?
Nay: what with the pain, and what with the fret
    Of sitting with nothing to do___
And the farm work blotched by a shiftless hand,
    He got very cross and blue.
He scolded the children and cuffed the dog
    That fawned about his knee;
And snarled at his wife, though she was kind
    And patient as a wife could be.
He grumbled and whined and fretted and fumed,
    The whole long day through.
"'Twill ruin me quite," cried Farmer John,
    "To sit here with nothing to do!"
But the time wore on, and he thoughtful grew,
    As he watched his patient wife,
And he vowed one morn with a tear in iris eye,
    He would lead a different life.
His hurt got well, and he went to work;
    And a busier man than he,
A happier man, or a pleasanter man,
    You never would wish to see.
The pigs got out, and he drove them back,
    Whistling right merrily;
He mended the fence, and kept the cows
    Just where they ought to be.
Weeding the garden was jolly fun,
    And ditto hoeing the corn.
"I'm happier far," said Farmer John,
    "Than I have been since I was born."
He learned a lesson that lasted him well;___
    'Twill last him his whole life through.
He frets but seldom, and never because
    He has plenty of work to do.
"I'll tell you what," says Farmer John,
    "They are either knaves or fools
Who long to idle, for idle hands
    Are the Devil's chosen tools!"

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 202-204

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February 8, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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