Montana Pastoral

By J. V. Cunningham 1911–1985
I am no shepherd of a child’s surmises.
I have seen fear where the coiled serpent rises,

Thirst where the grasses burn in early May
And thistle, mustard, and the wild oat stay.

There is dust in this air. I saw in the heat
Grasshoppers busy in the threshing wheat.

So to this hour. Through the warm dusk I drove
To blizzards sifting on the hissing stove,

And found no images of pastoral will,
But fear, thirst, hunger, and this huddled chill.

J. V. Cunningham, “Montana Pastoral” from The Exclusions of a Rhyme: Poems and Epigrams. Copyright © 1960 by J. V. Cunningham. Reprinted with the permission of Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, Athens, Ohio.

Source: The Exclusions of a Rhyme: Poems and Epigrams (Ohio University Press, 1960)

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Poet J. V. Cunningham 1911–1985

Subjects Nature

Poetic Terms Pastoral, Couplet

Biography

J. V. Cunningham, poet, critic, editor, and general man of letters, gained the high regard of his literary colleagues for his concise, witty, epigrammatic poetry. In a 1961 study, The Poetry of J. V. Cunningham, his mentor Yvor Winters called him "the most consistently distinguished poet writing in English today, and one of the finest in the language." About the same time, Thom Gunn wrote in a Yale Review article on The . . .

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SUBJECT Nature

Poetic Terms Pastoral, Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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