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Barns In November

Text of Poem

Along an empty road I watched the barns
Crouched on the hillsides while the morning light
Poured in among the trees like mist and fitted
Panes to the windows now locked winter tight.

And overhead a birdless waste went streaming
Missed the sharp trees and mirrored with its own
Our rolling hills, but not in that grey country
Rise roofs like these, low bent and rooted in stone.

The bare and tattered fields have long been empty
Empty the pasture too of all save weather
Sowing his measure of snow where side by side
Fences and stone and furrows sleep together.

After the death of summer the barns inherit
Blossom and leaf and stem; granary and mow
Shoulder their loads in the darkness of timbers speaking
And pigeons sobbing, Winter is coming now.

And so the rafters arch to loosen the bony
Long fingers of the wind pressed toward the warm
And yellow pens where little calves lie sleeping
Rescued from their first snow. The heat of the farm

Beats in a slow beat and is steady, the pulse awakens
Strength in the beams and sills, and the haymow floors
Stretch their feet to the walls and a staring window
Discovers the farmer hastily starting his chores.

Thus shall the heart against a bitter season
Guard countless doors and windows, bring to bin
The crops of its own raising and gather in
The fruit and seed of love, the stalks of reason,

And stand alone among the vacant meadows
Calmly awaiting the age of winter weather
When, through the air, a chill and cloudy heaven
Drops from its mantle of snow the first fine feather.

First Line
Along an empty road I watched the barns
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
Poetry 47 (Nov. 1935) 67.
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Permission to reproduce work from the James Hearst Papers has been granted by the Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries.

Poetic Form
Bibliographic Notes

Originally published in tandem with "Inquiry" in Poetry Magazine under the overall title "Even Though Snow."