Poems: So Much Said, So Briefly

No man takes the farm

by John Masefield

No man takes the farm,
Nothing grows there;
The ivy’s arm
Strangles the rose there.

Old Farmer Kyrle
Farmed there the last;
He beat his girl
(It ‘s seven years past).

After market it was
He beat his girl;
He liked his glass,
Old Farmer Kyrle.

Old Kyrle’s son
Said to his father:
“Now, dad, you ha’ done,
I’ll kill you rather!

“Stop beating sister,
Or by God I’ll kill you!”
Kyrle was full of liquor—
Old Kyrle said: “Will you?”

Kyrle took his cobb’d stick
And beat his daughter;
He said: “I’ll teach my chick
As a father oughter.”

Young Will, the son,
Heard his sister shriek;
He took his gun
Quick as a streak.

He said: “Now, dad,
Stop, once for all!”
He was a good lad,
Good at kicking the ball.

His father clubbed
The girl on the head.
Young Will upped
And shot him dead.

“Now, sister,” said Will,
“I’ve a-killed father:
As I said I’d kill.
O my love, I’d rather

“A-kill him again
Than see you suffer.
O my little Jane,
Kiss good-bye to your brother.

“I won’t see you again,
Nor the cows homing,
Nor the mice in the grain,
Nor the primrose coming,

“Nor the fair, nor folk,
Nor the summer flowers
Growing on the wold,
Nor ought that ‘s ours.

“Not Tib the cat,
Not Stub the mare,
Nor old dog Pat,
Never anywhere.

“For I’ll be hung
In Gloucester prison
When the bell ‘s rung
And the sun ‘s risen.”

They hanged Will
As Will said;
With one thrill
They choked him dead.

Jane walked the wold
Like a grey gander;
All grown old
She would wander.

She died soon:
At high-tide,
At full moon,
Jane died.

The brook chatters
As at first;
The farm it waters
Is accurst.

No man takes it,
Nothing grows there;
Blood straiks it,
A ghost goes there.

For a time John Masefield was Britain’s poet Laureate with such exquisite stories as The Everlasting Mercy, Dauber. Good Friday and The Widow in the Bye Street. Received an old book from Mike Steubing, formerly a factory workmate. The poems have been read and read again.

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