John Crowe Ransom
IN dog-days plowmen quit their toil,
And frog-ponds in the meadow boil,
And grasses on the upland broil,
And all the coiling things uncoil,
And eggs and meats and Christians spoil.
A mile away the valley breaks
(So all good valleys do) and makes
A cool green water for hot heads' sakes,
And sundry sullen dog-days' aches.
The swimmer's body is white and clean,
It is washed by a water of deepest green
The color of leaves in a starlight scene,
And it is as white as the stars between.
But the swimmer's soul is a thing possessed,
His soul is naked as his breast,
Remembers not its east and west,
And ponders this way, I have guessed:
I have no home in the cruel heat
On alien soil that blisters feet.
This water is my native seat,
And more than ever cool and sweet,
So long by forfeiture escheat.
O my forgiving element!
I gash you to my heart's content
And never need be penitent,
So light you float me when breath is spent
And close again where my rude way went.
And now you close above my head,
And I lie low in a soft green bed
That dog-days never have visited.
'By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread:'
The garden's curse is at last unsaid
What do I need of senses five?
Why eat, or drink, or sweat, or wive?
What do we strive for when we strive?
What do we live for when alive?
And what if I do not rise again,
Never to goad a heated brain
To hotter excesses of joy and pain?
Why should it be against the grain
To lie so cold and still and sane?
Water-bugs play shimmer-shimmer,
Naked body's just a glimmer,
Watch ticks every second grimmer:
Come to the top, O wicked swimmer!
John Crowe Ransom's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (The Swimmer by John Crowe Ransom )
- Unknown, Ruta Wuneh
- Bashfulness is the ornament for a youthf.., Dr.V.K. Kanniappan
- Yours, and only mine, Maya Tod
- IQ poeam, Angry Brownbear
- Lacklustre thoughts, Angry Brownbear
- Mindless Wind, Angry Brownbear
- Screams of Silence, Angry Brownbear
- Abode Aroma, Angry Brownbear
- Worth living, gajanan mishra
- Discard your vanity, gajanan mishra
Poem of the Day
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- My Love Is Like To Ice, Edmund Spenser
- All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Being With You, Heather Burns
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
- Heather Burns
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(21 November 1844 – 19 July 1926)