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Between Snow and Stars

Text of Poem

The sun runs headlong down the sky
into a brush heap of dusk piled on the horizon
and the low winter day softly closes its door.
All along the feedbunks the hungry steers stand bawling,
the pigs like rustling shadows in the twilight
throng the empty troughs, their anxious cries
mix with the frosty stench and pillar of blue smoke
where the squat tank heater sweats against its ice,
the sounds and smells that roof the stamping barnyard.
                                                               The cows head for the barn
where bright green hay and mounds of yellow corn
are on the menu tonight, the little calves bucking
and bouncing, while wrapped in his serene
authority the bull climbs up the steep stone stairs.
The churning drive-wheels grind the tractor’s way
ahead of the feed sled like a snowbound train
loaded with gifts for a crowded holiday
while the sentinel dog stands shouting in the gate.
And men with shovels, men with baskets, men with milk pails
stride down their evening paths, the patient network
that binds his facts to a man for life.

The barn doors close and the last man says good night,
turns toward the house and sees the sharp edged moon
already reaping the intervals of sleep,
thus the farm calls home its citizens and goes to bed.

First Line
The sun trips and falls headlong down the sky
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
The Sun at Noon. Muscatine, Iowa: The Prairie Press, 1943. 20.
Complete Poems
Hearst Collections
Word Count

**Revised and shorter version published in Complete (compared with original)

Poetic Form
*** Need to account for variants in published versions. Should check out all copies and reproduce different versions in database.