I Want to Live in Upperville

Published:May 20, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

This poem by John Updike, “Upon Learning That a Town Exists in Virginia Called Upperville,” appeared in the New Yorker on May 20, 1961.

In Upperville, the upper crust
Say “Bottoms up!” from dawn to dusk
And “Ups-a-daisy, dear!” at will—
I want to live in Upperville

One-upmanship is there the rule
And children learn about, at school,
“The Rise of Silas Lapham” and
Why gravitation has been banned.

High hamlet, ho!—my mind’s eye sees
Thy ruddy uplands, lofty trees,
Upsurging streams, and towering dogs;
There are no valleys, dumps, or bogs.

Depression never dares intrude
Upon thy sweet upswinging mood;
Downcast, long-fallen, let me go
To where the cattle never low.

I’ve always known there was a town
Just right for me; I’ll settle down
And be uplifted all day long—
Fair Upperville, accept my song.

IMAGE: “Ayrshire” the house of Genl. J.A. Buchanan, Upperville, Va., where many of the […] breakfastsand [.] balls are held, ca. 1920 (Library of Congress)