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Farmer, Dying Analysis

Author: poem of Richard Hugo Type: poem Views: 16

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for Hank and Nancy

Seven thousand acres of grass have faded yellow

from his cough. These limp days, his anger,

legend forty years from moon to Stevensville,

lives on, just barely, in a Great Falls whore.

Cruel times, he cries, cruel winds. His geese roam

unattended in the meadow. The gold last leaves

of cottonwoods ride Burnt Fork creek away.

His geese grow fat without him. Same old insult.

Same indifferent rise of mountains south,

hunters drunk around the fire ten feet from his fence.

What's killing us is something autumn. Call it

war or fever. You know it when you see it: flare.

Vine and fire and the morning deer come half

a century to sip his spring, there, at the far end

of his land, wrapped in cellophane by light.

What lives is what he left in air, definite,

unseen, hanging where he stood the day he roared.

A bear prowls closer to his barn each day.

Farmers come to watch him die. They bring crude offerings

of wine. Burnt Fork creek is caroling. He dies white

in final anger. The bear taps on his pane.

And we die silent, our last days loaded with the scream

of Burnt Fork creek, the last cry of that raging farmer.

We have aged ourselves to stone trying to summon

mercy for ungrateful daughters. Let's live him

in ourselves, stand deranged on the meadow rim

and curse the Baltic back, moon, bear and blast.

And let him shout from his grave for us.


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