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By John Crowe Ransom

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.


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

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Poet Bio

John Crowe Ransom
Poet and Critic John Crowe Ransom grew up in Tennessee and attended Oxford and Vanderbilt University, where he taught for many decades. Though his career as a poet was short—most of his poems were published in a three year period—he enjoyed acclaim throughout his life. His short, traditional lyric poems, often filled with wit and irony, use both mythological allusions and situations from everyday life to examine the metaphysical difficulties of love and death. In poems such as “Janet Waking” he shows the instability of life and the difficulty of understanding its changes. See More By This Poet

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