I met Hosea Job on Randolph Street
Who said to me: "I'm going for the train,
I want you with me."

And it happened then
My mind was hard, as muscles of the back
Grow hard resisting cold or shock or strain
And need the osteopath to be made supple,
To give the nerves and streams of life a chance.
Hosea Job was just the osteopath
To loose, relax my mood. And so I said
"All right" - and went.

Hosea was a man
Whom nothing touched of danger, or of harm.
His life was just a rare-bit dream, where some one
Seems like to fall before a truck or train -
Instead he walks across them. Or you see
Shadows of falling things, great buildings topple,
Pianos skid like bulls from hellish corners
And chase the oblivious fool who stands and smiles.
The buildings slant and sway like monstrous searchlights,
But never touch him. And the mad piano
Comes up to him, puts down its angry head,
Runs out a friendly tongue and licks his hand,
And lows a symphony.

By which I mean
Hosea had some money, and would sign
A bond or note for any man who asked him.
He'd rent a house and leave it, rent another,
Then rent a farm, move out from town and in.
He'd have the leases of superfluous places
Cancelled some how, was never sued for rent.
One time he had a fancy he would see
South Africa, took ship with a load of mules,
First telegraphing home from New Orleans
He'd be back in the Spring. Likewise he went
To Klondike with the rush. I think he owned
More kinds of mining stock than there were mines.
He had more quaint, peculiar men for friends
Than one could think were living. He believed
In every doctrine in its time, that promised
Salvation for the world. He took no thought
For life or for to-morrow, or for health,
Slept with his windows closed, ate what he wished.
And if he cut his finger, let it go.
I offered him peroxide once, he laughed.
And when I asked him if his soul was saved
He only said: "I see things. I lie back
And take it easy. Nothing can go wrong
In any serious sense."

So many thought
Hosea was a nut, and others thought,
That I was just a nut for liking him.
And what would any man of business say
If he knew that I didn't ask a question,
But simply went with him to take the train
That day he asked me.

And the train had gone
Five miles or so when I said: "Where you going?"
Hosea answered, and it made me start -
Hosea answered simply, "We are going
To see Sir Galahad."

It made me start
To hear Hosea say this, for I thought
He was now really off. But, I looked at him
And saw his eyes were sane.

"Sir Galahad?
Who is Sir Galahad?"

Hosea answered:
"I'm going up to see Sir Galahad,
And sound him out about re-entering
The game and run for governor again."

So then I knew he was the man our fathers
Worked with and knew and called Sir Galahad,
Now in retirement fifteen years or so.
Well, I was twenty-five when he was famous.
Sir Galahad was forty then, and now
Must be some fifty-five while I am forty.
So flashed across my thought the matter of time
And ages. So I thought of all he did:
Of how he went from faith to faith in politics
And ran for every office up to governor,
And ran for governor four times or so,
And never was elected to an office.
He drew more bills to remedy injustice,
Improve the courts, relieve the poor, reform
Administration, than the legislature
Could read, much less digest or understand.
The people beat him and the leaders flogged him.
They shut the door against his face until
He had no place to go except a farm
Among the stony hills, and there he went.
And thither we were going to see the knight,
And call him from his solitude to the fight
Against injustice, greed.

So we got off
The train at Alden, just a little village
Of fifty houses lying beneath the sprawl
Of hills and hills. And here there was a stillness
Made lonelier by an anvil ringing, by
A plow-man's voice at intervals.

Here Hosea
Engaged a horse and buggy, and we drove
And wound about a crooked road between
Great hills that stood together like the backs
Of elephants in a herd, where boulders lay
As thick as hail in places. Ruined pines
Stood like burnt matches. There was one which stuck
Against a single cloud so white it seemed
A bursted bale of cotton.

We reached the summit
And drove along past orchards, past a field
Level and green, kept like a garden, rich
Against the coming harvest. Here we met
A scarecrow man, driving a scarecrow horse
Hitched to a wobbly wagon. And we stopped,
The scarecrow stopped. The scarecrow and Hosea
Talked much of people and of farming - I
Sat listening, and I gathered from the talk,
And what Hosea told me as we drove,
That once this field so level and so green
The scarecrow owned. He had cleaned out the stumps,
And tried to farm it, failed, and lost the field,
But raged to lose it, thought he might succeed
In further time. Now having lost the field
So many years ago, could be a scarecrow,
And drive a scarecrow horse, yet laugh again
And have no care, the sorrow healed.

It seemed
The clearing of the stumps was scarce a starter
Toward a field of profit. For in truth,
The soil possessed a secret which the scarecrow
Never went deep enough to learn about.
His problem was all stumps. Not solving that,
He sold it to a farmer who out-slaved
The busiest bee, but only half succeeded.
He tried to raise potatoes, made a failure.
He planted it in beans, had half a crop.
He sowed wheat once and reaped a stack of straw.
The secret of the soil eluded him.
And here Hosea laughed: "This fellow's failure
Was just the thing that gave another man
The secret of the soil. For he had studied
The properties of soils and fertilizers.
And when he heard the field had failed to raise
Potatoes, beans and wheat, he simply said:
There are other things to raise: the question is
Whether the soil is suited to the things
He tried to raise, or whether it needs building
To raise the things he tried to raise, or whether
It must be builded up for anything.
At least he said the field is clear of stumps.
Pass on your field, he said. If I lose out
I'll pass it on. The field is his, he said
Who can make something grow.

And so this field
Of waving wheat along which we were driving
Was just the very field the scarecrow man
Had failed to master, as that other man
Had failed to master after him.

Kept talking of this field as we drove on.
That field, he said, is economical
Of men compared with many fields. You see
It only used two men. To grub the stumps
Took all the scarecrow's strength. That other man
Ran off to Oklahoma from this field.
I have known fields that ate a dozen men
In country such as this. The field remains
And laughs and waits for some one who divines
The secret of the field. Some farmers live
To prove what can't be done, and narrow down
The guess of what is possible. It's right
A certain crop should prosper and another
Should fail, and when a farmer tries to raise
A crop before it's time, he wastes himself
And wastes the field to try.

We now were climbing
To higher hills and rockier fields. Hosea
Had fallen into silence. I was thinking
About Sir Galahad, was wondering
Which man he was, the scarecrow, or the farmer
Who didn't know the seed to sow, or whether
He might still prove the farmer raising wheat,
Now we were come to give him back the field
With all the stumps grubbed out, the secret lying
Revealed and ready for the appointed hands.

We passed an orchard growing on a knoll
And saw a barn perked on a rocky hill,
And near the barn a house. Hosea said:
"This is Sir Galahad's." We tied the horse.
And we were in the silence of the country
At mid-day on a day in June. No bird
Was singing, fowl was cackling, cow was lowing,
No dog was barking. All was summer stillness.
We crossed a back-yard past a windlass well,
Dodged under clothes lines through a place of chips,
Walked in a path along the house. I said:
"Sir Galahad is ploughing, or perhaps
Is mending fences, cutting weeds." It seemed
Too bad to come so far and not to find him.
"We'll find him," said Hosea. "Let us sit
Under that tree and wait for him."

And then
We turned the corner of the house and there
Under a tree an old man sat, his head
Bowed down upon his breast, locked fast in sleep.
And by his feet a dog half blind and fat
Lay dozing, too inert to rise and bark.

Hosea gripped my arm. "Be still" he said.
"Let's ask him where Sir Galahad is," said I.
And then Hosea whispered, "God forgive me,
I had forgotten, you too have forgotten.
The man is old, he's very old. The years
Go by unnoticed. Come! Sir Galahad
Should sleep and not be waked."

We tip-toed off
And hurried back to Alden for the train.