The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Wolfpen Poems - Granny Frolic

New book By James Still © 1987

Issue: January, 1987

James Still is an Appalachian treasure. The voice that speaks out through his poetry is one that has known and loved and lived the Kentucky land and its people. Because' of James Still, Kentucky life will b recorded in literature history in much the same way as Chauncer wrote o' the everyday people in his Cantebury Tales. Not so much real stories or real people, but composites, and richly captured characters, truly representative of the people and the place. His words are embroidered together like a crazy quilt, native to these hills.

James Still is into his 80th year of life. Over 50 of those years have been spent in Kentucky. He found Wolfpen Creek a good place to write. Since he didn't own a car until he was 50, a lot of his traveling was done by foot. As he traveled among the people of Eastern Kentucky, he made notes and recorded the way people talked and lived. These notes formed the basis or James Still's novel, "River Of Earth," the story of a cold miner's family during the Depression. Although it was written during the Depression era, it is still as crisp, relevant and compelling today as when the first copy of it rolled off the press.

The work of James Still will endure the test of time. The name James Still and the voice of mountain people will not be forgotten.

The poem, "Granny Frolic", was taken from James Still's latest book, "The Wolfpen Poems."

"The Wolfpen Poems" 82 pages, hardback, can be ordered directly from the Berea College Appalachian Center, College Box 2336, Berea, KY 40404. The price is $10.95 plus $1.00 for postage.

Granny Frolic

Old Granny haste your bonnet on and
hie to Wolfpen Creek,
Go bit and bridle your scar-hocked
nag, go rein, go ride and hurry,

Sid Gentry's woman's time is nigh
and he's a-plague with worry,
O he's a-plague with all the signs the
almanac can carry.

Go riding swift to Wolfpen Creek, on
yon side Dead Mare Hollow,
Go chin the ridge, go shoe the trail,
go thresh the laurel thicket

For this is Gentry's woman's first,
the first child she's a-bearing,
And fotch a horn of spirits along to
keep Sid in the clearing.

Sid's made a little crib of oak-
A cradle short and narrow,
He's whittled a poke of pretties
And he's tuck a rattler's rattle;

He's rid a coon of all its hide,
He's cured it thick and furry-
But hap it be a girl-child
Young Sid will be to bury.

Old Granny gallop. Old Granny lope
Go like a hawk-bird flying,
Go split the wind, go fork the night,
Go knife the hoot-owl's crying,

And fotch a pot o'barley tea,
O hurry clap the lid,
Bring all your queer needcessities,
And bring a nip to Sid;

Young Sid is thorned by all the fears,
O he is pale and lorn,
For he has hung his pride atop
A lean moon's tipply horn.

O haste a sawyer and his tools,
A coffin-box be ready,
For hap it be a girl-child
Young Sid will be to bury.

Old Granny alight. Old Granny stay.
Come dance a mite for joy,
Sid Gentry's firing his pistols off,
Hell's bangers! It's a boy.