Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter

By John Crowe Ransom 1888–1974
There was such speed in her little body,   
And such lightness in her footfall,   
It is no wonder her brown study
Astonishes us all.

Her wars were bruited in our high window.   
We looked among orchard trees and beyond   
Where she took arms against her shadow,   
Or harried unto the pond

The lazy geese, like a snow cloud
Dripping their snow on the green grass,   
Tricking and stopping, sleepy and proud,   
Who cried in goose, Alas,

For the tireless heart within the little   
Lady with rod that made them rise
From their noon apple-dreams and scuttle   
Goose-fashion under the skies!

But now go the bells, and we are ready,   
In one house we are sternly stopped
To say we are vexed at her brown study,   
Lying so primly propped.

John Crowe Ransom, “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter” from Selected Poems, Revised and Enlarged Edition. Copyright 1924, 1927, 1934, 1939, 1945, © 1962, 1963 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1969)

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Poet John Crowe Ransom 1888–1974

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Fugitive

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

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Elegy

 John Crowe Ransom

Biography

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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Poem Categorization

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

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Fugitive

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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