- The man who raises pigs for cash
- May leap for joy to give them mash,
- And laugh aloud to meditate
- The liver sausage on his plate,
- Transform the barley and the bean
- To strips of fat and strips of lean,
- And see all things, his barns and yard
- And wife and child in terms of lard.
- But such a man without his will,
- Must pay the price in more than swill,
- His mind may dwell on pig in death,
- But his eyes are crossed from holding breath,
- And he who follows where he goes,
- Must wear a clothes-pin on his nose:
- Of all the farmer’s bird and beast,
- I think I like the pig the least.
The complete manuscript of Pigs was never actually published until long after Binks’ death. The poem, originally submitted by her, was discovered in the office files of the Swine and Kine, sandwiched between two bundles marked “Rejected Manuscripts” and “Unpaid Subscriptions.
Ode to a Deserted Farm
- How changed and bleak the meadows lie
- And overgrown with hay,
- The fields of oats and barley
- Where the binder twined its way!
- With doors ajar the cottage stands
- Deserted on the hill –
- No welcome bark, no thudding hoof,
- And the voice of the pig is still.
Undoubtedly, Binks, with the prophetic eye of the poetess, visualized the Dust Bowl scene when, in her later years, she wrote these famous lines, now inscribed in bronze over the gateway of St. Midget’s College in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Hi, Sooky, Ho, Sooky
- Oh, I heard your voice at daybreak,
- Calling loud and sweet and clear;
- I was hiding in the turnips
- With a cricket in my ear;
- A miller-moth in one ear,
- And a cricket in the other,
- But I heard your dear voice calling
- To the piglets and their mother;
- Heard your own voice rising, falling,
- Loud and long, and sharp and shrill,
- Calling, “Sooky, Sooky, Sooky!”
- To the piglets on the hill;
- “Hi, Sooky, Ho, Sooky,
- Come and get your swill!”
- Oh, I’ve hid among the turnips,
- And I’ve hid between the stooks,
- With barley barbs all down my back,
- And beetles in my boots;
- But I’ve seen you in the dwindling,
- And I’ve seen you in the rain,
- With an armful full of kindling,
- When you fell and rose again;
- I’ve seen you plodding through the dust
- And plugging through the wet,
- And at night against the window-blind,
- I’ve seen your silhouette;
- But “Sooky, Sooky, Sooky,”
- I never can forget;
- “Hi, Sooky, Ho, Sooky,
- Come and get your pep!”
- And oh, I think I’ll hide again
- For just a sight of you,
- And hear your own sweet voice again
- Call “Sooky, Sooky, Soo,
- Hi, Sooky, Ho, Sooky,
- Come and get the stew, Sooky,
- Come and get your goo. Sooky,
- Sooky, Sooky, Soo!”
Hi, Sooky was inspired by Binks’ neighbour Steve Gryczlkaeiouc’s courtship of her best friend, Mathilda Schwantzhacker. The idea that Steve would fall in love with the voice of neighbouring Mathilda as she is sweetly calling her sow is an example of the poetess’ tenderest and most inspiring writings. This poem is the first of the long series of Binks’ ultra-romantic “Grizzlykick Symphony” poems.
About the Poet:
Sarah Binks (1906-1929), was a Canadian poetess. Binks was a native of the Saskatchewan municipality of Willows, halfway between Oak Bluff and Quagmire who immortalized the early 20th century Canadian Prairies.
Binks was a writer whose lyricism could, to quote her biographer, express “the beauty of field and sky and rain-drenched hill, of prairie swept by storm, of dazzling alkali flat, of hot fallow land in the sun of the summer afternoon, of the misty pastels of spreading time.”
She was also the understanding voice of the prairie provinces, actually characterizing the notion of manure-spreading, frigid choring, and desperation farming as activities of joy through her confidence in her native land, which is the heritage of all poets.
Known as the “Sweet Songstress of Saskatchewan,” Bings poems frequently appeared in The Horsebreeder’s Gazette and Swine and Kine. The Manitoba Writers’ Guild cites her as founder of the influential “geo-literary” school of Canadian verse.
St. Midget’s College posthumously awarded Binks an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws (in absentia). She was also the winner of Saskatchewan’s highest poetic honor, the Wheat Pool Medal, for her epic collection of poems in the self-published Up From the Magma and Back Again (1927). [DES-07/14]