Select Poems of Sidney Lanier

Author: Sidney Lanier

Jones’s Private Argyment

That air same Jones, which lived in Jones, [1]
He had this pint about him:
He’d swear with a hundred sighs and groans,
That farmers MUST stop gittin’ loans,
And git along without ’em:

That bankers, warehousemen, and sich
Was fatt’nin’ on the planter,
And Tennessy was rotten-rich
A-raisin’ meat and corn, all which
Draw’d money to Atlanta:

And the only thing (says Jones) to do [11]
Is, eat no meat that’s boughten:

Thus spouted Jones (whar folks could hear,
— At Court and other gatherin’s),
And thus kep’ spoutin’ many a year,
Proclaimin’ loudly far and near
Sich fiddlesticks and blatherin’s.

But, one all-fired sweatin’ day, [21]
It happened I was hoein’
My lower corn-field, which it lay
’Longside the road that runs my way
Whar I can see what’s goin’.

And a’ter twelve o’clock had come
I felt a kinder faggin’,
And laid myself un’neath a plum
To let my dinner settle sum,
When ’long come Jones’s waggin,

And Jones was settin’ in it, SO: [31]
A-readin’ of a paper.
His mules was goin’ powerful slow,
Fur he had tied the lines onto
The staple of the scraper.

The mules they stopped about a rod
From me, and went to feedin’
’Longside the road, upon the sod,
But Jones (which he had tuck a tod)
Not knowin’, kept a-readin’.

And presently says he: "Hit’s true; [41]
That Clisby’s head is level.
Thar’s one thing farmers all must do,
To keep themselves from goin’ tew
Bankruptcy and the devil!

"More corn! more corn! MUST plant less ground,
And MUSTN’T eat what’s boughten!
Next year they’ll do it: reasonin’s sound:
(And, cotton will fetch ’bout a dollar a pound),
THARFORE, I’LL plant ALL cotton!"

Macon, Ga., 1870.

Notes: Jones’s Private Argyment

The themes of this poem, the relative claims of corn and cotton upon the attention of the farmer and the disastrous results of speculation,
are treated indirectly in `Thar’s More in the Man Than Thar Is in the Land’,
and directly and with consummate art in `Corn’.

1. "That air same Jones" appears in `Thar’s More’, etc., written in 1869,
in which we are told:

"And he lived pretty much by gittin’ of loans,
And his mules was nuthin’ but skin and bones,
And his hogs was flat as his corn-bread pones,
And he had ’bout a thousand acres o’ land."

He sells his farm to Brown at a dollar and fifty cents an acre and goes to Texas. Brown improves the farm, and, after five years,
is sitting down to a big dinner when Jones is discovered standing out by the fence, without wagon or mules, "fur he had left Texas afoot and cum to Georgy to see if he couldn’t git some employment."
Brown invites Jones in to dinner, but cannot refrain from the inference-drawing that names the poem. — "Which lived in Jones,"
"which Jones is a county of red hills and stones" (`Thar’s More’, etc.)
in central Georgia.

13. Readers of `David Copperfield’ will recall Micawber’s frequent use of `I-O-U-’s’.

47. "Clisby’s head" refers to Mr. Joseph Clisby, then editor of the Macon (Ga.) `Telegraph and Messenger’, who had written editorials favoring the planting of more corn.


Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options

Title: Select Poems of Sidney Lanier

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Select Poems of Sidney Lanier

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Sidney Lanier, "Jones’s Private Argyment," Select Poems of Sidney Lanier, ed. Callaway, Morgan, Jr., 1962- in Select Poems of Sidney Lanier (New York: George E. Wood, 1850), Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024,

MLA: Lanier, Sidney. "Jones’s Private Argyment." Select Poems of Sidney Lanier, edited by Callaway, Morgan, Jr., 1962-, in Select Poems of Sidney Lanier, New York, George E. Wood, 1850, Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Lanier, S, 'Jones’s Private Argyment' in Select Poems of Sidney Lanier, ed. . cited in 1850, Select Poems of Sidney Lanier, George E. Wood, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from