John Crowe Ransom


At last came threshing-time, the manly season.
We kept the thresher thundering by daylight,
And rested all the sweeter after dark,
Telling of tales, and washing in the river.
But one there was, some twenty miles a stranger,
Who boasted that he was a mighty wrestler
And had not met that valiant pair of shoulders
That he could not put down.

We had a champion there. He looked and listened,
He measured off his man, he made his mind up,
And thus he brought great honor to his county:
'My friend, I've heard you bragging, heard you braying,
And now I say, for God's sake come and wrestle.'
And thus appealed, the other came, for God's sake,
And they did wrestle. 
They sprang, they gripped, they strained and rocked and twisted,
They pounded much good sod to dust and powder,
They ripped the garments off each other vainly
And showed us many naked bulging muscles,
And still were even. 

But while the tide of battle ran so equal,
I heard a sound, I took it for a voice,
I almost saw it, spitting out a passage
Between the haggard jaws of my poor hero,
The voice as of a man almost despairing,
Hoping again though all his hopes had failed:
'By God, I'll have you down in one more minute!'
And it was as he said; for in a minute
He had him down, by God.