When The Frost Is On The Punkin

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey cock
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence
O, it's then's the times a feller is a-feelin' at his best
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below the clover over-head!
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin' 's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too!
I don't know how to tell it but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me
I'd want to 'commodate 'em all the whole-indurin' flock
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

by James Whitcomb Riley

Comments (19)

What a memory- love this!
Love love love the old masters! My mother read so many of them to me when I was a child. They bring warmth to my heart and joy to my soul.
Lovely lovely! It’s as if I am right there! Very enjoyable! ! ! One to read to the kids!
Brilliant in pastoral perception and description, embodies the contentment of another time, when physical labour and hard work, blessed the skilled tireless hands which reaped the blessing of the bounty of land; well used and cared for, in a dependence and connection of understanding nature with gratitude and love. There was a special taste in eating home grown produce produced in full ripeness and a peace and harmony attained in the completion of work well done.
Dialect poems attempt to capture the uniqueness of American English: sometimes they do. See also Paul Laurence Dunbar. Somehow they appeal to us, even when we don't know why - though critics and scholars reject them, even satirize them. My favorite still is Langston Hughes Mother to Son. Just a hint of dialect, but just right.
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