Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Willa Cather - Spanish Johnny

If you've read "My Antonia" or "O Pioneers!," then you're already familiar with novelist Willa Cather. Known for her Great Plains novels, here is one of the few poems she'd written in her lifetime:

Spanish Johnny

The Old West, the old time,
The old wind singing through
The red, red grass a thousand miles—
And, Spanish Johnny, you!
He’d sit beside the water ditch
When all his herd was in,
And never mind a child, but sing
To his mandolin.

The big stars, the blue night,
The moon-enchanted lane;
The olive man who never spoke,
But sang the songs of Spain.
His speech with men was wicked talk—
To hear it was a sin;
But those were golden things he said
To his mandolin.

The gold songs, the gold stars,
The word so golden then;
And the hand so tender to a child—
Had killed so many men.
He died a hard death long ago
Before the Road came in—
The night before he swung, he sang
To his mandolin.

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