Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
My Step-grandfather
By H. L. Davis
 
From “Primapara”

MY step-grandfather sat during the noon spell
Against the wild crabapple tree, by the vines.
Flies about the high hot fern played, or fell
To his beard, or upon the big vein of his hand.
With their playing he seemed helpless and old, in a land        5
Where new stumps, piles of green brush, fresh-burnt pines,
Were young and stubborn. He mentioned the old times
As if he thought of this: “I have marched, and run
Over the old hills, old plowed land, with my gun
Bumping furrows—oh, years old. But in this new place        10
There is nothing I know. I ride a strange colt.”
 
“You know old times, and have seen some big man’s face:
Out of the old times, what do you remember most?”
“General Lee. Once they called us out in a cold
Plowed field, to parade for him. He was old with frost.        15
I remember our style of dress; my dead friends last long,
(I would have thought longer); and there were peaked women
Who watched us march, and joked with us as they were trimming
The green shoots of wild roses to eat. But these with me
Lack what the other has—they are not so strong.        20
And lost battles?—I would be prouder starving in rain
And beaten and running every day, with General Lee,
Than fat and warm, winning under another man.”
 
Alone presently, I laid myself face down
To avoid seeing the field; and thought of how the book        25
Describes Esther; and imagined how that queen might look,
Preferred for beauty, in her old fields red and brown.
“I am like my step-grandfather,” I thought, “and could
Follow whatever I love, blind and bold;
Or go hungry and in great shame, and, for a cause, be proud.”        30
And I came to work, sad to see him so old.
 
 
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