The Poet and the Peasant (Henry)

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The Poet and the Peasant
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A naive man from the countryside visited the city with a large sum of money, but his exaggerated rural appearance led people to dismiss him as a fraud, until he changed his clothes and was swindled.
A poet, who had lived in close communion with nature all his life, wrote a poem and took it to an editor. The poem was a living pastoral, full of the genuine breath of the fields, the song of birds, and the pleasant chatter of trickling streams. However, when the poet called again to see about it, with hopes of a beefsteak dinner in his heart, it was handed back to him with the comment: "

Too artificial.


Several of the poet's friends met over spaghetti and Dutchess County chianti, and swallowed indignation with slippery forkfuls. They decided to play a trick on the editor. One of them, Conant, a well-arrived writer of fiction who had never looked upon bucolic scenes except with sensations of disgust from the windows of express trains, wrote a poem and called it "The Doe and the Brook." It was a fine specimen of the kind of work you would expect from a poet who had strayed with Amaryllis only as far as the florist's windows, and whose sole ornithological discussion had been carried on with a waiter. Conant signed this poem, and they sent it to the same editor.

Meanwhile, a young man with light blue eyes, a hanging lip, and hair the exact color of the little orphan's (afterward discovered to be the earl's daughter) in one of Mr. Blaney's plays, stumbled off the West Shore ferryboat, and loped slowly up Forty-second Street. His trousers were corduroy, his coat short-sleeved, with buttons in the middle of his back. One bootleg was outside the corduroys. You looked expectantly, though in vain, at his straw hat for ear holes, its shape inaugurating the suspicion that it had been ravaged from a former equine possessor. In his hand was a valise—description of it is an impossible task; a Boston man would not have carried his lunch and law books to his office in it. And above one ear, in his hair, was a wisp of hay—the rustic's letter of credit, his badge of innocence, the last clinging touch of the Garden of Eden lingering to shame the gold-brick men.

The young man, who went by the name of Haylocks, wandered around the city, trying to find a place to gamble or drink, but was constantly rebuffed by the city's inhabitants due to his exaggerated rural appearance. Eventually, he decided that it was his clothes that were causing people to reject him, so he went shopping and transformed himself into a well-dressed city dweller.

Jabez Bulltongue — young man from Ulster County; light blue eyes, hanging lip, blond hair; dressed in exaggerated rural attire; innocent, gullible.

However, as soon as he stepped out onto the street in his new attire, he was spotted by a group of con men who saw him as an easy target. They managed to swindle him out of all his money, leaving him with nothing but a story of his wrongs to tell at the police station.