Elinor Morton Wylie

Here you will find the Poem Wild Peaches of poet Elinor Morton Wylie

Wild Peaches


When the world turns completely upside down 
You say we'll emigrate to the Eastern Shore 
Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore; 
We'll live among wild peach trees, miles from town, 
You'll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown 
Homespun, dyed butternut's dark gold colour. 
Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor, 
We'll swim in milk and honey till we drown.

The winter will be short, the summer long, 
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot, 
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong; 
All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all. 
The squirrels in their silver fur will fall 
Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.


The autumn frosts will lie upon the grass 
Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold. 
The misted early mornings will be cold; 
The little puddles will be roofed with glass. 
The sun, which burns from copper into brass, 
Melts these at noon, and makes the boys unfold 
Their knitted mufflers; full as they can hold 
Fat pockets dribble chestnuts as they pass.

Peaches grow wild, and pigs can live in clover; 
A barrel of salted herrings lasts a year; 
The spring begins before the winter's over. 
By February you may find the skins 
Of garter snakes and water moccasins 
Dwindled and harsh, dead-white and cloudy-clear.


When April pours the colours of a shell 
Upon the hills, when every little creek 
Is shot with silver from the Chesapeake 
In shoals new-minted by the ocean swell, 
When strawberries go begging, and the sleek 
Blue plums lie open to the blackbird's beak, 
We shall live well -- we shall live very well.

The months between the cherries and the peaches 
Are brimming cornucopias which spill 
Fruits red and purple, sombre-bloomed and black; 
Then, down rich fields and frosty river beaches 
We'll trample bright persimmons, while you kill 
Bronze partridge, speckled quail, and canvasback.


Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones 
There's something in this richness that I hate. 
I love the look, austere, immaculate, 
Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones. 
There's something in my very blood that owns 
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate, 
A thread of water, churned to milky spate 
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.

I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray, 
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves; 
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath, 
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay, 
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves, 
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.