John Hay

(8 October 1838 – 1 July 1905 / Salem, Indiana)

Benoni Dunn


I sat on a worm fence talking
With one of the Bear Creek boys,
When all the woods were ringing
With the blue jay's jubilant noise.
Prairie and timber were glorious
In the love of the hot young sun,
But a philosophic gloom possessed
The soul of Benoni Dunn.

"Nothin' in all this 'varsal yerth
Is like what it ort to be,
I've give up tryin' to see the nub
It's too hefty a job fer me.
The weaker a feller's stummick may be,
The bigger his dinner, you bet,
And the more he don't care a damn for cash,
The richer he's sure to get.

"Thar's old Brads got a pretty young wife
And the biggest house in Pike
No chick nor child says he's sixty-two,
But he's eighty-two more like.
I'low God thinks it a derned good joke-
The way he tries it on-
To send a plenty of hazel-nuts
To folks with their back teeth gone.

"I ort to be in Congress;
I would ef I'd went to school.
That's Colonel Scrubb our member
He's jest a nateral fool.
When he come here, Lord! he didn't know
Peach blow from a dogwood blossom,
And the derned galoot owned up to me
That he never seed a 'possum!

"Everything works contráry-
You never knows what to do:
Ef I sow in wheat I'll wish it was corn
Afore the fall is through.
And talk about pleasure ef I was axed
The thing that most I love,
I'd say it's gingerbread and that
I git the littlest uv.

"What is the use of livin'
Where everything goes skew-haw,
Where you starve ef you keep the Commandments,
And hang ef you break the law.
I've give up tryin' to see the nub
Uv what we was meant to be;
The more I study, the more I don't know-
It's too hefty a job fer me."

And this was the sum of the thinking
Of tall Benoni Dunn,
While gay in weeds his cornfield laughed
In the light of the kindly sun.
Ruminant thus he maundered,
With a scowl on his tangled brow,
With gaps in his fence, and hate in his heart,
And rust on his idle plough.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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