Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter

by John Crowe Ransom

There was such speed in her little body,
And such lightness in her footfall,
It is no wonder her brown study astonishes us all

Her wars were bruited in our high window.
We looked among orchard trees and beyond
Where she took arms against her shadow,
Or harried unto the pond

The lazy geese, like a snow cloud
Dripping their snow on the green grass,
Tricking and stopping, sleepy and proud,
Who cried in goose, Alas,

For the tireless heart within the little
Lady with rod that made them rise
From their noon apple-dreams and scuttle
Goose-fashion under the skies!

But now go the bells, and we are ready,
In one house we are sternly stopped
To say we are vexed at her brown study,
Lying so primly propped.



Anna Ancher
A Funeral


Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter


Ransom, John Crowe

Year of Publication:


Age Appropriate:

14 - 15


Death of a child


Mixed quatrains









Literary Period:


Things to Discuss:

What is the irony in this poem? What is it that "astonishes all?"

About the Poem:

This poem uses a mixture of grave and happy times as symbols of life and death.

About the Poet:

John Ransom was born in Tennessee, educated at Vaderbilt University and studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. After serving as an artillery officer in the First World War he joined the English faculty at Vanderbilt and later became Professor of Poetry at Kenyon College. He founded the The Fugitive as a voice for agrarian-distributists. The Agrarians were a group of southern writers who favored agriculture as the economic base for the south as an attempt to recreate the historic southern aristocracy.