Moments of Minnie

by John Crowe Ransom

John Crowe Ransom

We must not honor girls of Minnie's kind
Whose charms are more endearing than her mind.
We are the Christian moralists we are.

Yet it oppressed me when an evil star
Had thralled so lazy and beautiful a creature
And scared and misshapen her most tender feature.
The mouth-corners were pulled down, and the outleaning
Of her soft lips drew back their gallant meaning.
Pain is hideous — it pinched the vaulted line
To a flatness terrible, yet no doing of mine;
And pain is primitive — it undid words
And left her no more speech than ill-bred birds.
For she uttered and I heard that which could not
Be foreseen, nor yet afterwards forgot:
Oh, Oh, Oh! Not a word, not a name,
And no tears flowed, yet wry and dry it came
Till I trembled — and I fled — I had to find
Distance for a contagion-catching mind.

Then I washed my mind with its old memories.
For it was better to reconstitute the trees
And the bridegroom scarlet bird of April crying
To his brown one embowered, and the flying
Mirth that bubbled off this woman's mouth
From secret wells abundant as the South
Which spilled their joy too thickly for sharp speech.
Ah, Ah, Ah! she sighed deeply, and each
Breathing was a new Ah! until I heard
What never issues on a lettered word.

Last updated October 14, 2022