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After the People Go

Text of Poem

No one lives here any more, they all have moved away,
After the well went dry they left, no one wanted to stay
To watch the sun kill the maple trees after the crops were gone,
No one wanted to stare again into the blazing dawn.

Bitterness grows in the yard like weeds, bitterness rank and tall
Covers the bare and beaten ground where nothing will grow at all.
The sprinkler kneels by the sweet pea bed, rusty and black and bent,
Marking the place where the flowers died after the people went.

After the well went dry they left, nobody shed any tears
But like an oak tree each one bore the judgment of the years,
Records of birth and death and love, items of colts and corn,
Little odd packets for memory to keep— courage rings like a horn

Even in this burnt country. Let the rains come when they will
No one will feel their slanting strokes but the dead upon the hill.
And silence too of a human kind will let the cicadas’ cry
Be the last prayers to a heaven veiled by the metal sky,

While nature sows with burning hands thistle and hemp and dock
To have some crop to harvest besides the crow and the rock.

After the fields are empty and after the people go,
She will not waste the season, she still has seeds to sow.

First Line
No one lives here any more, they all have moved away
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
Country Men (1937) vii.
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