Sidney Lanier ( )


Nine from Eight


I was drivin my two-mule waggin,
With a lot o truck for sale,
Towards Macon, to git some baggin
(Which my cotton was ready to bale),
And I come to a place on the side o the pike
Whar a peert little winter branch jest had throwd
The sand in a kind of a sand-bar like,
And I seed, a leetle ways up the road,
A man squattin down, like a big bull-toad,
On the ground, a-figgerin thar in the sand
With his finger, and motionin with his hand,
And he looked like Ellick Garry.
And as I driv up, I heerd him bleat
To hisself, like a lamb: Hauh? nine from eight
Leaves nuthin -- and none to carry?

And Ellicks bull-cart was standin
A cross-wise of the way,
And the little bull was a-expandin,
Hisself on a wisp of hay.
But Ellick he sat with his head bent down,
A-studyin and musin powerfully,
And his forrud was creased with a turrible frown,
And he was a-wurken appearently
A rethmetic sum that wouldnt gee,
Fur he kep on figgerin away in the sand
With his finger, and motionin with his hand,
And I seed it WAS Ellick Garry.
And agin I heard him softly bleat
To hisself, like a lamb: Hauh? nine from eight
Leaves nuthin -- and none to carry!

I woad my mules mighty easy
(Ellicks back was towards the road
And the wind hit was sorter breezy)
And I got down offn my load,
And I crep up close to Ellicks back,
And I heerd him a-talkin softly, thus:
Them figgers is got me under the hack.
I caint see how to git outn the muss,
Except to jest natally fail and bus!
My crap-leen calls for nine hundred and more.
My counts o sales is eight hundred and four,
Of cotton for Ellick Garry.
Thars eight, ought, four, jest like on a slate:
Heres nine and two oughts -- Hauh? nine from eight
Leaves nuthin -- and none to carry.

Them crap-leens, oh, them crap-leens!
I giv one to Pardman and Sharks.
Hit gobbled me up like snap-beans
In a patch full o old fiel-larks.
But I thought I could fool the crap-leen nice,
And I hauled my cotton to Jammel and Cones.
But shuh! fore I even had settled my price
They tuck affidavy without no bones
And levelled upon me fur all ther loans
To the mount of sum nine hundred dollars or more,
And sold me out clean for eight hundred and four,
As sure as Im Ellick Garry!
And thar it is down all squar and straight,
But I cant make it gee, fur nine from eight
Leaves nuthin -- and none to carry.

Then I says Hello, here, Garry!
However you star and frown
Thares somethin fur YOU to carry,
Fur youve worked it upside down!
Then he riz and walked to his little bull-cart,
And made like he neither had seen nor heerd
Nor knowed that I knowed of his raskilly part,
And he tried to look as if HE want feared,
And gathered his lines like he never keered,
And he driv down the road bout a quarter or so,
And then looked around, and I hollered Hello,
Look here, Mister Ellick Garry!
You may git up soon and lie down late,
But youll always find that nine from eight
Leaves nuthin -- and none to carry.



Sidney Lanier's other poems:
  1. The Revenge of Hamish
  2. The Stirrup-Cup
  3. Thars More in the Man Than Thar Is in the Land
  4. Martha Washington
  5. Nirvana


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