Cow Stories: Bringing in the Cows, by Arthur Corning White

Photograph: Producer to Consumer, man milking a cow in Milford NH; c1909 J.P. Proctor. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Photograph: Producer to Consumer, man milking a cow in Milford NH; c1909 J.P. Proctor. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


“A precious, elusive element of poetry has gone out of farming with the passing of the old style smoke house, home made mittens, and those great, round, shining, shallow milk pans for raising of the cream.

Now, the rural population eats hams cured in Chicago, wears mittens knit by machinery in a factory near Boston, and buys butter made at some up-to-date creamery in a sanitary churn. Now, we farm by the clock. We milk in these hurried days of the twentieth century by a gasoline driven vacuum milker. We keep expense and receipt accounts with the punctilious accuracy of a C.P.A. We are forced to do our chores according to system, or very soon have the bank foreclosing and leaving us no farm and no chores to do. Working days, to be sure, are shorter than when I was a boy. And we certain produce more onions, cabbages, and pigs than we did then. But we’ve a lot more money invested in the process.

Photograph: Mr. Dickinson farmer, Lison near Franconia NH, 1940; US Farm Security  Administration; Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

Photograph: Mr. Dickinson farmer, Lisbon near Franconia NH, 1940; US Farm Security Administration; Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

In the house of labor we work harder than we used to. And now outside the hours of labor we think, we are forced to think, about the work for tomorrow.. The increased leisure made possible by mechanics has only brought us more worry. But the old-fashioned way of farming, which, though cumbersome, is still dear to some of us, has gone for good.

In the old days all the farm boys went barefoot in the summer time. In those days we never had to hurry, except perhaps to save a crop of new-dried clover form a sudden shower.

Then in bringing in the cows at the day’s end one could loiter, picking blackberries, or watching the chipmunks’ antics, or sitting for a moment silent by a brook side, looking thoughtfully at the wonder of the hills.

I often regret I possess no gift for writing verses. If I could make rhymes I should not need to go to the sea like Masefield, to the frontiers like Service, or like Sandburg to the crashing, clanking mills of Gary, Indiana, with their dreadful molten heat. I should not need to trace the bounds of empire like Kipling, nor know passionate love like Edna St. Vincent Millay. All I should need would be a quiet corner in my own happy household, a pencil and paper, and the simple recollections of my youth. Those boyhood years of much aloneness on an old New England farm!

For in those years, as I have no longer, I had time to steep my soul in beauty while bringing home the cows.

–From: The Granite Monthly, May 1925, Vol 57, No 5 [Mr. White’s work is appearing in The Forum, The Survey, McNaught’s Monthly, The American Review, Poet Lore, etc.]

BIO: Arthur Corning White, son of Homer T. & Katherine (Corning) White, born July 21, 1892 Marble Dale CT. A.B., Wesleyan, A.B. 1916; Graduate Work, Yale 1916-17; Instructor in English and Public Speaking, University of California, 1917-18; Instructor in English, Yale 1919-20; Instructor in English, Roxbury, 1919-21; Numerous articles in magazines. Instructor in English, 1921-1926 Dartmouth College. He married 12 July 1919 to Eleanor De Forest of New Haven CT. Child, Eleanor Harrower White b. 21 August 1920. He m2d) 4 March 1954 in Franklin Ohio to Evelyn Dow Little, dau of William P. & Fanny Platt (Bates) Little. She was a social worker, b. in Columbus Ohio. Playwright: “The Virgin” (1926);

This entry was posted in Cow Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Cow Stories: Bringing in the Cows, by Arthur Corning White

  1. Pingback: NH Tidbits: Cow Hampshire Revisited | Cow Hampshire

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.