Bucolics by Maurice ManningBucolics by Maurice Manning


byMaurice Manning

Paperback | October 3, 2008

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Untitled and unpunctuated, the seventy poems in this acclaimed collection seem to cascade from one page to another. Maurice Manning extolls the virtues of nature and its many gifts, and finds deep gratitude for the mysterious hand that created it all.that bare branch that branch made blackby the rain the silver raindrophanging from the black branchBoss I like that black branchI like that shiny raindrop Bosstell me if I'm wrong but it makesme think you're looking rightat me now isn't that a lark for meto think you look that wayupside down like a tree frogBoss I'm not surprised at allI wouldn't doubt it fora minute you're always upto something I'll say one thingyou're all right all right you areeven when you're hanging Boss
MAURICE MANNING is the author of four previous books of poems. His last book, The Common Man, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.
Title:BucolicsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:128 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.34 inPublished:October 3, 2008Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0156034751

ISBN - 13:9780156034753

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Read from the Book

Iboss of the grassy greenboss of the silver puddlehow happy is my lotto tend the green to catchthe water when it rainsto do the doing Bossthe way the sun wakes upthe leaves they yawn a biteach day a little morefor a tiny reason thenwhen the leaves outgrow their greenthe wind unwinds them Bossthat’s the way you go aroundif you loose me like a leafif you unburden meif I untaste the tasteof being bossed by youdon’t boss me down to dustmay I become a flowerwhen my blossom Boss is fullboss a bee to my blue lipsthat one drop of my bloomwould softly drop intoyour sweetness once againif I go round that wayI’ll know the doing meansto you what it means to mea word before all wordsIIdid you ever have a nickname Bossa favorite color ever walk aroundin a circle for the fun of it do yousnap your fingers hold your breathdo you put things in your pocketdo you notch a stick for every sparrowis everything a little game to you Bossa little peekaboo a ring aroundthe rosy Boss we all fall down that’sthe funny part when it happensdo you keep a straight face or doyou laugh what’s it like to always knowthe answer never have to guess whenyou rest do you ever fall asleepIIIthe night is trotting toward me Bossas if you tapped it with a switchor clicked your tongue against your teethit’s coming down the pasture soonI’ll hear the leather tackle squeakI’ll see your ankle swinging inthe stirrup Boss you ride the nightbut you don’t need to hurry noyou’ve been this way a time or twobefore you’ve hauled your wagon fullof stars it’s all old hat for youyou get here when you get here OI guess you like the same old thingit’s funny but I like it tooI like it when you ride the nightacross the sky as if it werea nag a worn-out horse you don’tmind riding O you get alongyour horse is made of silver Bossit clips like sleep it clops like youIVwhat color is your collar Bossis your backbone sore from bending overwhen you clap your hand against your thighdoes a little cloud of dust fly offdo you wipe your face with your shirttail BossI’d bet my wages that you dothough I couldn’t say for sure how muchmy wages are they’re probablyenough O I get by all righta beech seed here a feather therea locust wing a wing as lightas air besides it lets light throughI get a double portion from youI tie my purse strings tight but putthis in your pocket all I haveI’d lay it on the table Bossfor you I’d bet you jerk your linesyou hang your salty harness froma red nail in your barn you pouryour horse a scoop of oats you giveits tail a tug you say nighty nightyou spotted nag it’s funny BossI can hear you chuckle whenyou shut the stall you’re happy fora good day’s work a spotted horseI wonder if that horse’s spots are realor painted on it makes me smileto think about it Boss evenfield hands need a laugh or twoa rusty riddle a twisty tongueI wouldn’t put it past you Oyou sneaky devil you cutup BossVyou’re the hay maker Bossyou light the candle in the sundip the water in the rainO for the whole big pictureyou’re the painter Boss I knowit’s you the biggest boss of allyou must have a sack full of windsomewhere a barrel full of salta recipe for stone things like thatyou keep them close to your chestyou keep your secrets Bossyou flash a yellow eye then crowaway you’re like a rooster Bosssometimes you’re like a foxVIdo you get happy Boss do youget tickled by a funny birdor doubled over by a treea lonesome tree less lonely Bossbecause it has a horse beside itit doesn’t matter if the horseis rubbing anything or notas long as it’s beside the treeso simple Boss a horse besidea tree it makes me happy justto think about two things besideeach other the stick beside the firethe rock beside the water Othe snow beside the sleepy fieldO Boss the moss beside my mouthwhen I bend down to say it’s meyou mossy bank you happy pieceof green it’s me beside you likea bird I thought I’d let you knowin case you don’t have eyes I thoughtI’d tell you Boss what always leavesme happy if you didn’t knowalready Boss in case you spenda lot of time beside yourselfVIIdo you have a tableBoss do you havea lantern do youleave a broom strawon the mantel whenyou blow into your hearthdoes it glow Bossdo you touch the broom strawto the coal do youtouch the lantern nextis that how you make lightlike that with little morethan just a breath Bosswhat happens nextonce your lamp is litwhat happens after thatVIIIO Boss sometimes you take it allyou shuck the corn you slice the piein the sky O you’re the onliestthe only word that’s ever onmy lips I let it slip when I seethe sky lit up like sunshine scatteredon the river though it’s nighttime BossO all those sparkles all that glimmermy eyeballs never want to blinkaway from you when I know for sureyou’re up there making shimmer Bossyou’re laying by a little lightfor later on I wonder ifyou have a wheel to shell the starsthe way you turn the sky I thinkyour hand is wrapped around a crankIXare you ever sorry Boss everhave a problem ever getshamefaced stuff your handsin your big boss pocketsit’s never easy is it Boss neverBoss ever get a slow start everfeel like you’re at the endof the line the end of your ropehave you ever had it up to herewherever that is on you I knowit’s high up to your neck Bossthe top of your head you mustbe tall to take it all the wayyou do taller than the topof the moon Boss O I wonderwhat you see when you look upXyou spread the nighttime Bossall over me you tuckme in you tuck me tighterthan a splinter in my fingerBoss you breathe a songinto the wind when you getthis close I wish you’d putyour ear against my mouthso I could tell you somethingI could tell you somethingBoss if you would justbend farther down I knowyou know what I would sayBoss if you’d put your earagainst my mouth though itwould only be a whisperI’ve got a secret Bossit’s burning up my lipsXII told that old dog hecould hush Boss I saidthere now you’re just havinga shaky little dream dreama dream dream Boss howabout that talking to a dogthat way there there it’s justa little dream dream youdon’t have to whimper that’swhat I can’t stand Bossto see an old dog whimperwhat’s in an old dog’s dreamdream anyway some rabbits Bossor barking up a tree say doyou ever have a dream dreamBoss are you running after oraway from me tell me sometimeif your big feet ever twitchXIIwhy Boss why do the days drift bylike a leaf asleep on a bed of waterdoes the leaf forgive the tree that letit fall into the water doesit know how stiff the river’s facecan be how smileless rivers liketo be at least this one Boss not a flinchor bristle bloomed on its glassy facethe moment the leaf lay down no joyno breathy gasp from the river’s lipswhen all the leaf was trying to dois cuddle Boss does cuddling movethe likes of you are you the river orthe thing that makes the river’s faceso still if a thing so little asa leaf decided to cuddle upto me I couldn’t stand it BossI couldn’t stare it down like youI’d have to say you hush now leafyou hush your little mouth good nightCopyright © 2007 by Maurice ManningAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/ contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Table of Contents

boss of the grassy green 1
did you ever have a nickname Boss 3
the night is trotting toward me Boss 4
what color is your collar Boss 5
you’re the hay maker Boss 7
do you get happy Boss do you 8
do you have a table 9
O Boss sometimes you take it all 10
are you ever sorry Boss ever 11
you spread the nighttime Boss 12
I told that old dog he 13
why Boss why do the days drift by 14
are you ever in my chest Boss 15
if you had a feed sack Boss what 16
how big is your hand Boss hold it up 17
the light inside the shadow how 18
I like the weaving bees I like 19
there was a fox Boss in my dream 20
you swirl the dirt like nobody’s business 21
I’ve got butterflies Boss 22
you make it all seem easy Boss 23
yes I’ve tried to hide my face 24
did you pull yourself up
 by your bootstraps Boss 26
I’m sure you’ve got a sweet spot 27
I guess you’ve got a lot 28
you toss the stars like clover seed 29
that bare branch that branch made black 30
the two of us we’re cut 31
boss of the blue sky boss 32
you move in every direction 33
did you teach the woodpecker how 34
the birds the bugs even the trees Boss 35
when you push the clouds
 so close together Boss 36
the river looks so level Boss 37
is that you Boss is that 38
of course I like the sun 40
do you have a busy season Boss 41
I’m happy Boss happy as a bird 43
did you boss the horse against the barn 44
is there another sky besides 46
the field is flatter than 48
unless my nose is itchy Boss 49
if I say I’ve sprung the spring in my step 50
I wonder Boss in all 51
before my eye was burning like 52
the way that buzzard hops it makes 53
I put my face against 54
when I chop wood you warm me twice 55
O boss of ashes boss of dust 56
I’ve got a picture of you Boss 57
I got up early Boss the moon 58
your other favorite word 59
I’m like an oak tree Boss O 61
you windy blowhard Boss 62
do you put your trousers on one leg 64
are you against me Boss 65
say what have you got underneath 66
guess what Boss I’m not even 67
when I see the shadow of the hawk 68
can I say whew to you now Boss 69
you let out light to tease the shadows 70
listen Boss don’t think that I 72
my hay day Boss is every day 73
if I didn’t know you better Boss 74
the first hawk you hung up in the sky 76
you know that little song 77
it doesn’t bother me Boss to have 78
is your barn stuffed to the roof beam 79
beyond the field this time 80
would you trade hee-haws with a crow 82
does an old dog toll beside you Boss 84
you leave a little night inside 86
would you be lonesome if I swam 87
we’ve always been like this 89
you raise the hawk you hoist the crows 90
thank you for the leaf Boss 92
am I your helper Boss or am 93
I’ve got one thing to say to you 94

Editorial Reviews

PRAISE FOR BUCOLICS The natural world in these poems is a figure familiar and lush, yet unknowable and everywhere meaningful."- American Poet "