Jim’s Whip

Barcroft Boake

YES, there it hangs upon the wall
    And never gives a sound,
The hand that trimmed its greenhide fall
    Is hidden underground,
There, in that patch of sally shade,
    Beneath that grassy mound.

I never take it from the wall,
    That whip belonged to him,
The man I singled from them all,
    He was my husband, Jim;
I see him now, so straight and tall,
    So long and lithe of limb.

That whip was with him night and day
    When he was on the track;
I’ve often heard him laugh. and say
    That when they heard its crack,
After the breaking of the drought,
    The cattle all came back.

And all the time that Jim was here
    A-working on the run
I’d hear that whip ring sharp and clear
    Just about set of sun
To let me know that he was near
    And that his work was done.

I was away that afternoon,
    Penning the calves, when, bang!
I heard his whip, ’Twas rather soon—
    A thousand echoes rang
And died away among the hills,
    As toward the hut I sprang.

I made the tea and waited, but,
    Seized by a sudden whim,
I went and sat outside the hut
    Watching the light grow dim—
I waited there till after dark,
    But not a sign of Jim.

The evening air was damp with dew;
    Just as the clock struck ten
    His horse came riderless—I knew
What was the matter then.
    Why should the Lord have singled out
My Jim from other men?

I took the horse and found him where
    He lay beneath the sky
With blood all clotted on his hair;
    I felt too dazed to cry—
I held him to me as I prayed
    To God that I might die.

But sometimes now I seem to hear—
    Just when the air grows chill—
A single whip-crack, sharp and clear,
    Re-echo from the hill.
That’s Jim, to let me know he’s near
    And thinking of me still.


Back    |     Words Home    |    Barcroft Boake home    |    Site Info.    |    Feedback