Janet Waking

By John Crowe Ransom 1888–1974
Beautifully Janet slept
Till it was deeply morning. She woke then   
And thought about her dainty-feathered hen,   
To see how it had kept.

One kiss she gave her mother,
Only a small one gave she to her daddy
Who would have kissed each curl of his shining baby;   
No kiss at all for her brother.

“Old Chucky, Old Chucky!” she cried,   
Running across the world upon the grass   
To Chucky’s house, and listening. But alas,   
Her Chucky had died.

It was a transmogrifying bee
Came droning down on Chucky’s old bald head
And sat and put the poison. It scarcely bled,   
But how exceedingly

And purply did the knot
Swell with the venom and communicate
Its rigour! Now the poor comb stood up straight
But Chucky did not.

So there was Janet
Kneeling on the wet grass, crying her brown hen   
(Translated far beyond the daughters of men)   
To rise and walk upon it.

And weeping fast as she had breath
Janet implored us, “Wake her from her sleep!”   
And would not be instructed in how deep   
Was the forgetful kingdom of death.

John  Crowe Ransom, "Janet Waking" from Selected Poems, Third Edition, Revised and Enlarged. Copyright © 1924, 1927 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc and renewed 1952, 1955 by John Crow Ransom. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. 

Source: Selected Poems Third Edition (Alfred A. Knopf, 1978)

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Poet John Crowe Ransom 1888–1974

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern


Subjects Family & Ancestors, Pets, Living, Youth, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 John Crowe Ransom


John Crowe Ransom was one of the leading poets of his generation. A highly respected teacher and critic, Ransom was intimately connected to the early twentieth-century literary movement known as the Fugitives,  later the Southern Agrarians. Around the year 1915, a group of fifteen or so Vanderbilt University teachers and students began meeting informally to discuss trends in American life and literature. Led by John Crowe . . .

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SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Pets, Living, Youth, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern


Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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