James Thomas Fields

(1817-1881 / the United States)

The Lucky Horseshoe - Poem by James Thomas Fields

A farmer travelling with his load
Picked up a horseshoe in the road,
And nailed it fast to his barn door,
That Luck might down upon him pour,
That every blessing known in life
Might crown his homestead and his wife,
And never any kind of harm
Descend upon his growing farm.

But dire ill-fortune soon began
To visit the astounded man.
His hens declined to lay their eggs;
His bacon tumbled from the pegs,
And rats devoured the fallen legs;
His corn, that never failed before,
Mildewed and rotted on the floor;
His grass refused to end in hay;
His cattle died, or went astray:
In short, all moved the crooked way.

Next spring a great drought baked the sod,
And roasted every pea in pod;
The beans declared they could not grow
So long as nature acted so;
Redundant insects reared their brood
To starve for lack of juicy food;
The staves from barrel sides went off
As if they had the hooping-cough,
And nothing of the useful kind
To hold together felt inclined:
In short, it was no use to try
While all the land was in a fry.

One morn, demoralized with grief,
The farmer clamored for relief;
And prayed right hard to understand
What witchcraft now possessed his land;
Why house and farm in misery grew
Since he nailed up that “lucky” shoe.

While thus dismayed o’er matters wrong
An old man chanced to trudge along,
To whom he told, with wormwood tears,
How his affairs were in arrears,
And what a desperate state of things
A picked-up horseshoe sometimes brings.

The stranger asked to see the shoe,
The farmer brought it into view;
But when the old man raised his head,
He laughed outright, and quickly said,
“No wonder skies upon you frown—
You’ve nailed the horseshoe upside down!
Just turn it round, and soon you’ll see
How you and Fortune will agree.”

The farmer turned the horseshoe round,
And showers began to swell the ground;
The sunshine laughed among his grain,
And heaps on heaps piled up the wain;
The loft his hay could barely hold,
His cattle did as they were told;
His fruit trees needed sturdy props
To hold the gathering apple crops;
His turnip and potato fields
Astonished all men by their yields;
Folks never saw such ears of corn
As in his smiling hills were born;
His barn was full of bursting bins—
His wife presented him with twins;
His neighbors marvelled more and more
To see the increase in his store.
And now the merry farmer sings
“There are two ways of doing things;
And when for good luck you would pray,
Nail up your horseshoe the

Comments about The Lucky Horseshoe by James Thomas Fields

  • Brian Jani (5/10/2014 6:34:00 PM)

    Interesting theme, good work (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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