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Text of Poem

The stolid farmer took his hoe
instead of his plow and climbed the low
old wood gate with its wired latch
and made his way to the melon patch.
The sun was warm and the earth was wet
he thought it was one of the best springs yet
for a farm to show what a man can do
when he has the help of the weather too,
as much as he lives in this world alone
the man who feeds on himself eats stone,
both farm and the farmer had learned it plain
to nourish themselves on sun and rain.

The melon patch had taken the hint
and decked out itself in a live green tint
of feathery blades that covered the ground
not only this patch but for miles around.
Glad to find that his seeds were fertile
glad for one fear that he could hurdle
the stolid farmer stared at the maze
of form and color he seemed to raise,
most of them weeds that he did not want
for instance the wild tobacco plant
but if it’s a right of growing there
which should he kill and which ones spare
they each of them grew in the self same way
and each of them offered its claim to stay
now how to choose between melon and felon—

But the farmer knew what answer to use
for he is no farmer who does not choose.

First Line
The stolid farmer took his hoe
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
The Sun at Noon. Muscatine, Iowa: The Prairie Press, 1943. 18.
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Bibliographic Notes

Publishing Error: pages 19-20 and 41-42 and incorrectly printed twice, back to back, between pages 30-31

One of Jim's top 10. great poem for illustrating the difference between a farmer poet and a nature poet. Compare with the later "Outsider."