Treasure Island

Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

The Ox tamer


IN a faraway northern county, in the placid, pastoral region,
Lives my farmer friend, the theme of my recitative, a famous Tamer of
Oxen:
There they bring him the three-year-olds and the four-year-olds, to
break them;
He will take the wildest steer in the world, and break him and tame
him;
He will go, fearless, without any whip, where the young bullock
chafes up and down the yard;
The bullock's head tosses restless high in the air, with raging eyes;
Yet, see you! how soon his rage subsides--how soon this Tamer tames
him:
See you! on the farms hereabout, a hundred oxen, young and old--and
he is the man who has tamed them;
They all know him--all are affectionate to him;
See you! some are such beautiful animals--so lofty looking! 10
Some are buff color'd--some mottled--one has a white line running
along his back--some are brindled,
Some have wide flaring horns (a good sign)--See you! the bright
hides;
See, the two with stars on their foreheads--See, the round bodies and
broad backs;
See, how straight and square they stand on their legs--See, what
fine, sagacious eyes;
See, how they watch their Tamer--they wish him near them--how they
turn to look after him!
What yearning expression! how uneasy they are when he moves away from
them:
--Now I marvel what it can be he appears to them, (books, politics,
poems depart--all else departs;)
I confess I envy only his fascination--my silent, illiterate friend,
Whom a hundred oxen love, there in his life on farms,
In the northern county far, in the placid, pastoral region.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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