Thar’s more in the Man than thar is in the Land
|Thar’s more in the Man than thar is in the Land
|Sidney Lanier composed this poem in 1869 while he was living in Macon, Georgia. This is one his Dialect Poems, written in various dialects of the rural 19th-century South. The same man named Jones is the subject of Lanier’s poem “Jones’s Private Argyment”.|
I knowed a man, which he lived in Jones,
Which Jones is a county of red hills and stones,
And he lived pretty much by gittin’ of loans,
And his mules was nuthin’ but skin and bones,
And his hogs was flat as his corn-bread pones,
And he had ’bout a thousand acres o’ land.
This man—which his name it was also Jones—
He swore that he’d leave them old red hills and stones,
Fur he couldn’t make nuthin’ but yallerish cotton,
And little o’ that, and his fences was rotten,
And what little corn he had, hit was boughten
And dinged ef a livin’ was in the land.
And the longer he swore the madder he got,
And he riz and he walked to the stable lot,
And he hollered to Tom to come thar and hitch
Fur to emigrate somewhar whar land was rich,
And to quit raisin’ cock-burrs, thistles and sich,
And a wastin’ ther time on the cussed land.
So him and Tom they hitched up the mules,
Pertestin’ that folks was mighty big fools
That ’ud stay in Georgy ther lifetime out,
Jest scratchin’ a livin’ when all of ’em mought
Git places in Texas whar cotton would sprout
By the time you could plant it in the land.
And he driv by a house whar a man named Brown
Was a livin’, not fur from the edge o’ town,
And he bantered Brown fur to buy his place,
And said that bein’ as money was skace,
And bein’ as sheriffs was hard to face,
Two dollars an acre would git the land.
They closed at a dollar and fifty cents,
And Jones he bought him a waggin and tents,
And loaded his corn, and his wimmin, and truck,
And moved to Texas, which it tuck
His entire pile, with the best of luck,
To git thar and git him a little land.
But Brown moved out on the old Jones’ farm,
And he rolled up his breeches and bared his arm,
And he picked all the rocks from off’n the groun’,
And he rooted it up and he plowed it down,
Then he sowed his corn and his wheat in the land.
Five years glid by, and Brown, one day
(Which he’d got so fat that he wouldn’t weigh),
Was a settin’ down, sorter lazily,
To the bulliest dinner you ever see,
When one o’ the children jumped on his knee
And says, “Yan’s Jones, which you bought his land.”
And thar was Jones, standin’ out at the fence,
And he hadn’t no waggin, nor mules, nor tents,
Fur he had left Texas afoot and cum
To Georgy to see if he couldn’t git sum
Employment, and he was a lookin’ as hum-
Ble as ef he had never owned any land.
But Brown he axed him in, and he sot
Him down to his vittles smokin’ hot,
And when he had filled hisself and the floor
Brown looked at him sharp and riz and swore
That, “whether men’s land was rich or poor
Thar was more in the man than thar was in the land.”
- Jones County, Georgia, adjoining Bibb County, in which Macon is located.