The little cousin is dead, by foul subtraction, A green bough from Virginia's aged tree, And none of the county kin like the transaction, Nor some of the world of outer dark, like me. A boy not beautiful, nor good, nor clever, A black cloud full of storms too hot for keeping, A sword beneath his mother's heart—yet never Woman bewept her babe as this is weeping. A pig with a pasty face, so I had said, Squealing for cookies, kinned by poor pretense With a noble house. But the little man quite dead, I see the forbears' antique lineaments. The elder men have strode by the box of death To the wide flag porch, and muttering low send round The bruit of the day. O friendly waste of breath! Their hearts are hurt with a deep dynastic wound. He was pale and little, the foolish neighbors say; The first-fruits, saith the Preacher, the Lord hath taken; But this was the old tree's late branch wrenched away, Grieving the sapless limbs, the shorn and shaken.In thinking about this a bit more, it occurs to me that we might accuse Ransom of sentimentality toward the idea of a "noble" family even as he writes an unsentimental elegy for an individual little boy. Or is this splitting heirs? It is the (self-deprecating) position of the speaker of this poem in relation to the subject that I find convincing in this poem, but not in Wright's "A Blessing." On the one hand, Ransom seems utterly unaware of his (sentimental?) attachment to the idea of the noble souther family, but on the other hand he acknowledges his critical but reconciled (by death) attitude toward the dead boy.
Here's another poem -- John Crowe Ransom's "Dead Boy" -- I have loved a long time & though I now find Ransom's celebration of the "dynastic" families of the Agrarian South pretty offensive, the language of this poem is not sentimental. Ransom does not ask the reader to produce an emotional response for which he has not provided an occasion in language. The subject lends itself to sentimental excess, which the specificity of the language avoids: