When the world turns completely upside down
You say we’ll emigrate to the Eastern Shore
Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore;
We’ll live among wild peach trees, miles from town,
You’ll wear a coonskin capcoonskin cap A cap made from a raccoon pelt, and I a gown
Homespun, dyed butternutbutternut A shade of yellow similar to khaki. In the Civil War, some Confederate soldiers wore butternut-colored uniforms, leading them to be nicknamed Butternuts. Southern sympathizers in the North were also referred to as Butternuts.’s dark gold color.
Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestorlotus-eating ancestor An allusion to the Lotos (Lotus) Eaters of Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus’ men who ate the lotos lost the desire to return home. In Robert Fitzgerald’s translation: “but those who ate this honeyed plant, the Lotos / never cared to report, nor to return: / they longed to stay forever, browsing on / that native bloom, forgetful of their homeland” (Book IX, lines 101-104).,
We’ll swim in milk and honeymilk and honey Attributes of the Promised Land mentioned several times in the Bible, first at Exodus 3.8, where God promises the Israelites “a land flowing with milk and honey” (New Revised Standard Version) till we drown.
The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernongscuppernong A type of wine made from the scuppernong grape, native to the surrounding area of the Scuppernong River in North Carolina;
All seasons sweetAll seasons sweet Echoes Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s lines, “Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee”, from his poem “Frost at Midnight”
, but autumn best of all.
The squirrels in their silver fur will fall
Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.
The autumn frosts will lie upon the grass
Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold.
The misted early mornings will be cold;
The little puddles will be roofed with glass.
The sun, which burns from copper into brass,
Melts these at noon, and makes the boys unfold
Their knitted mufflersmufflers Heavy scarves; full as they can hold
Fat pockets dribble chestnuts as they pass.
Peaches grow wild, and pigs can live in clover;
A barrel of salted herrings lasts a year;
The spring begins before the winter’s over.
By February you may find the skins
Of garter snakes and water moccasinswater moccasins A venomous water snake, also known as cottonmouth
Dwindled and harsh, dead-white and cloudy-clear.
When April pours the colors of a shell
Upon the hills, when every little creek
Is shot with silver from the ChesapeakeChesapeake The Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Maryland
In shoalsshoals Sandbars new-minted by the ocean swell,
When strawberries go begging, and the sleek
Blue plums lie open to the blackbird’s beak,
We shall live well — we shall live very well.
The months between the cherries and the peaches
Are brimming cornucopias which spill
Fruits red and purple, sombre-bloomed and black;
Then, down rich fields and frosty river beaches
We’ll trample bright persimmons, while you kill
Bronze partridge, speckled quail, and canvasbackcanvasback A wild duck “so called from the color of the back” (A Dictionary of Americanisms, 1951).
Down to the Puritan marrow of my bonesPuritan marrow of my bones The Puritans were a persecuted religious group of English Protestants, in the 16th and 17th centuries that wanted to reform or “purify” the Church of England from within. Some Puritans eventually came to New England in the 1630s and 40s, supporting the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. “Puritan” has been used as a pejorative term to describe strict moralists against all worldly pleasures. Marrow is a fatty substance found in the cavities of bones, where blood cells are produced. Marrow provides moisture to bones, which give them further strength. “Marrow of my bones” is a phrase common back to the Bible, referring less literally to the center or core of a thing or issue.
There’s something in this richness that I hate.
I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.
There’s something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water, churned to milky spateSpate Freshet or flood
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.
I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheavesSheaves A bundle of cut stalks of grain tied together after reaping;
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom’s breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy wintersleepy winter In the same volume, Nets to Catch the Wind, Wylie published the poem “Winter Sleep.”, like the sleep of death.