Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Walter W. Bulman's "Huskers at Night"

A friend wanted to read the balance of Chariton attorney Walter W. Bulman's poem, "Huskers at Night," so here it is. The poem was published in The Herald-Patriot of Oct. 23, 1914, and was one of several he had read during a noon Rotary meeting the previous Friday.

Poetry was Bulman's sideline and apparently his poems were published in several of the journals open to aspiring wordsmiths of the time, but this is the only example of his work I've found.

I'd hoped to find a corn-husking photo to go along with it among family snapshots, but the best I could do was the snapshot above of my dad with three of the horses he farmed with. He is flanked by Nellie (left) and Bess. Pet, who really was my dad's pet, is in the background. Pet had a partner named Pete who apparently was elsewhere when the photo was taken.

I only have vague memories of my dad's horses, but he had many more --- until around 1951 or so when the market for work horses dried up and he went out of that line of business while switching full-time to a Case tractor for farm work. I do recall that while he plowed, planted and cultivated with a tractor he preferred to pick corn with horses. They would move along the rows at command while he worked so it was not necessary to climb aboard, start an engine and move a vehicle himself.

The gulp and ring of scoop from crib is borne;
the noisy huskers, bloused, are homeward bound;
The moon dim lights across the ripened corn;
And wagons rattle on the frozen ground.

He, musing, hears again where fancies husk
In oaken kitchen's warming mellow glow;
The men unhitching in the faded dusk;
And jingling lugs trace where the horses go.

The lanterns light the darkened basement stalls;
The mangers filled; the scent of lofted hay;
The harness hangs around the timbered walls
Where horses eat and toss their feed in play.

There perched the fowl along the dingy sill
Inquiring who so rudely with a light
Molelsts again, when everyone was still,
To throw the litter on the floor at night.

And memory has the supper table set;
The joking men recount their hurried toil,
The gentle pour of tea he visions yet,
The Sire, stern as his 'round of rustle moil.

A sister gets the readers down for school;
In denims romp again the urchin pair,
Restrained to glances by parental rule;
The evening spent, they creak the boarded stair.

And so tonight, in going fondly back
To shocks of corn in fields his boyhood knew
To see the rift of snow or hear the quack
of winging lines aloft that southward flew;

To live again a few of olden hours
In husking time in candle-lighted 'stead,
A form that always comes amid these bowers
Lends erring feet and tucks a blanket bed.

On rugged walls let shadowed play abide;
The sounding throw-boards break the lonely hush; 
Let laughter close the husker's eventide;
His clumsy teams afield disturb the thrush.

No comments: