M A N   W I T H  A  B U L L - T O N G U E D  P L O W
E. P. Dutton & Co., New York City, New York,  1934. 361 pp.
  Man With a Bull-Tongued Plow  
  Man with a Bull-Tongued Plow was Jesse Stuart's first commercially published book. The opening line of the book’s first poem, “I am a farmer singing at the plow,” is perhaps Stuart’s most famous phrase. The book’s 361 pages contains 702 sonnets. The book brought Stuart national recognition, mostly positive, but some also critical. One reviewer wrote that he “ seems to write poetry as naturally as he breathes.” And, then added that he “was an honest-to-god poet, with more gusto and vitality than any American lyricist has evinced since Stephen Vincent Benet” (Richardson, Jesse, 219).

The undated inscription is poem number 36 in the book, which Stuart dedicated to John Wilson Townsend, a Kentucky writer, who was born 1885 and died in 1968. In a paper back edition of the book, published in 1959 (copy in Jesse Stuart Collection), Stuart wrote that Townsend is “a friend of many, many years.” Townsend’s papers are located at the Eastern Kentucky University library. The identity of Bill Elkins (the second inscription, dated September 8, 1958) is not known.

The Jesse Stuart Collection has two copies of the first edition, both signed by Jesse Stuart.


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