What does author want to convey by saying/using 'this crossly' as two instances in the poem? What do they signify/show?

Thanks to anyone who takes his time to help me out :)

The little old house was out with a little new shed
In front at the edge of the road where the traffic sped,
A roadside stand that too pathetically pled,
It would not be fair to say for a dole of bread,
But for some of the money, the cash, whose flow supports
The flower of cities from sinking and withering faint.
The polished traffic passed with a mind ahead,
Or if ever aside a moment, then out of sorts
At having the landscape marred with the artless paint
Of signs that with N turned wrong and S turned wrong
Offered for sale wild berries in wooden quarts,
Or crook-necked golden squash with silver warts,
Or beauty rest in a beautiful mountain scene,
You have the money, but if you want to be mean,
Why keep your money (this crossly) and go along.

The hurt to the scenery wouldn’t be my complaint
So much as the trusting sorrow of what is unsaid:
Here far from the city we make our roadside stand
And ask for some city money to feel in hand
To try if it will not make our being expand,
And give us the life of the moving-pictures’ promise
That the party in power is said to be keeping from us.

It is in the news that all these pitiful kin
Are to be bought out and mercifully gathered in
To live in villages, next to the theatre and the store,
Where they won’t have to think for themselves anymore,
While greedy good-doers, beneficent beasts of prey,
Swarm over their lives enforcing benefits
That are calculated to soothe them out of their wits,
And by teaching them how to sleep they sleep all day,
Destroy their sleeping at night the ancient way.

Sometimes I feel myself I can hardly bear
The thought of so much childish longing in vain,
The sadness that lurks near the open window there,
That waits all day in almost open prayer
For the squeal of brakes, the sound of a stopping car,
Of all the thousand selfish cars that pass,
Just one to inquire what a farmer’s prices are.
And one did stop, but only to plow up grass
In using the yard to back and turn around;
And another to ask the way to where it was bound;

And another to ask could they sell it a gallon of gas
They couldn’t (this crossly); they had none, didn’t it see?

No, in country money, the country scale of gain,
The requisite lift of spirit has never been found,
Or so the voice of the country seems to complain,
I can’t help owning the great relief it would be
To put these people at one stroke out of their pain.
And then next day as I come back into the sane,
I wonder how I should like you to come to me
And offer to put me gently out of my pain.

Original sources: [three] [scanned] [images].

  • The poem is written in dramatic monologue (basically the poet talking to an imaginary audience) and thus the 'this crossly' in parenthesis to convey that the poet is saying that angrily. Feb 18 at 3:48

1 Answer 1


The this refers to the preceding phrase or dialogue; crossly means gruffly or with ill grace. The repetition is purely for emphasis.

The meaning, from context, is that people who live along the big highways resent the traffic.

In the first case, although many of them are more than willing to sell produce, or a painting, to the passing motorists (represented metaphorically as the cars themselves rather than the drivers) in order to have a share of the affluence possessed and represented by the city folk, they are less willing (you can keep your money) to do so when the impatient motorist relieves their frustration by whining at the proprietor (being mean).

In the second case, the motorist is asking desperately for help in some random location, short of gas, and hoping against hope that one of these rural dwellers has a supply of fuel of which they can spare a little (and are not begging, but asking to buy it). The askee is again grumpily responding, but presenting the asker as foolish to expect such a thing, and (perhaps a little unfairly) questioning their observational skills.

The final stanza is a confession that the author isn't superior to the country folk after all.

  • Thanks, WIll! Can you tell me one more thing though, when it is said 'if you want to be mean', do folk people refer drivers to be mean because they are whining at them(as you described) or just because of the fact that they are not spending any money to buy their products? Really Thanks though :D Feb 23, 2018 at 3:58
  • 1
    I think you should be able to infer that from the context, but look carefully at the part starting The polished traffic passed with a mind ahead, … and try to work out what mood the cars (well, the drivers, but the whole text is referring to the cars in lieu of their drivers) are in, and why; then the next two or three lines relate to the nearby vendors’ responses to that, er, mood. Feb 23, 2018 at 4:29

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