Topping Corn: What Good Love is all About

Every now and again, I like to take out my copy of From a Scallop Shanty, a small-press collection of poems and woodcuts that Cape Codder and author Carol Wight produced in 1934. My copy smells of dust and dry paper and is the yellow of long ago. Wight used a pencil to inscribe this copy to a friend named Ruth whom he thanked for sailing in his boat.

I have a copy because my aunt and uncle, who vacationed on Cape Cod every year, found a copy in a shop one rainy summer day and thought I'd like it. My uncle thought I'd like knowing it was a first edition, too. This aunt and uncle taught me to love books, especially old ones, because they always read them and talked about them, and they used give them to me from their shelves. My uncle would send me reading lists he derived just for me on other rainy days and would even include the library call numbers. They would take me to the annual Mark Twain Library book fair in Redding, Connecticut. There you could get a whole bag of books for a few dollars and study the rich detail of the frontispieces, feel the letters that were literally pressed into the thick leaves, try to read the newsprint used to strengthen the binding, and leaf through for interesting notes or old postcards. You could always read the book, too.

I like this little home-grown book from the Cape for its sweet, clean poems and its honest affection. Whenever I see a field of corn, I think of this one:

Topping Corn

Twas in the soft September tide
When golden rod is born
My love and I stood side by side
A-topping of the corn.

No sound except the rustling fall
Of corn-stalk lightly lopt,--
"And where's your heart?" I dared to call;
No further stalk she topped,

But smiled and blushed a sunrise red,
Both hands upon her hips,--
"Where is my heart? you ask," she said,
Just now it's on my lips.

There's music in the rustling corn
When winds are piping through,
But oh, the music that is born
When loving hearts ring true.


  1. Lovely.

    The tops of the corn - the tassles - tell what kind of corn it is. Brown for feed corn, yellow for sweet.

    I hope that you have seen the Mark Twain house in Hartford.

  2. Thanks, Greg, for introducing me to the language of corn. I'm staying away from brown, to be sure.

    The Mark Twain house is a hoot. The docents do a great job bringing his humor to life. Thanks for the link.

  3. not a big fan of reading poetry but really enjoyed this one

    very emotive =)


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