by John Crowe Ransom
The little cousin is dead, by foul subtraction,
A green bough from Virginia’s aged tree,
And none of the county kin like the transaction,
Nor some of the world of outer dark, like me.
A boy not beautiful, nor good, nor clever,
A black cloud full of storms too hot for keeping,
A sword beneath his mother’s heart—yet never
Woman bewept her babe as this is weeping.
A pig with a pasty face, so I had said,
Squealing for cookies, kinned by poor pretense
With a noble house. But the little man quite dead,
I see the forbears’ antique lineaments.
The elder men have strode by the box of death
To the wide flag porch, and muttering low send round
The bruit of the day. O friendly waste of breath!
Their hearts are hurt with a deep dynastic wound.
He was pale and little, the foolish neighbors say;
The first-fruits, saith the Preacher, the Lord hath taken;
But this was the old tree’s late branch wrenched away,
Grieving the sapless limbs, the shorn and shaken.