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Dead Boy

 The little cousin is dead, by foul subtraction,
A green bough from Virginia's aged tree,
And none of the county kin like the transaction,
Nor some of the world of outer dark, like me.
A boy not beautiful, nor good, nor clever, A black cloud full of storms too hot for keeping, A sword beneath his mother's heart—yet never Woman bewept her babe as this is weeping.
A pig with a pasty face, so I had said, Squealing for cookies, kinned by poor pretense With a noble house.
But the little man quite dead, I see the forbears' antique lineaments.
The elder men have strode by the box of death To the wide flag porch, and muttering low send round The bruit of the day.
O friendly waste of breath! Their hearts are hurt with a deep dynastic wound.
He was pale and little, the foolish neighbors say; The first-fruits, saith the Preacher, the Lord hath taken; But this was the old tree's late branch wrenched away, Grieving the sapless limbs, the short and shaken.

by John Crowe Ransom
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