THE SPREAD TABLE
In formal wise the silver glows;
The glass is bright; the linen shows
No stain nor flaw; the candles shine
Through lucent vellum; wreath and vine
Surround the low blue vase that holds
The orange discs of marigolds.
The guests are called. Let all who sit
Bring with them here their store of wit,
With stingless laughter, joke and pun,
And friendly repartee and fun.
But let no bitterness find place
In smile or jest; and let no face
Mask envy and its fierce desire,
Nor malice tip its fierce desire,
Nor malice tip its words with fire.
That one who hates must sheath his sword.
Let all be brothers at this board.
Cos Cob, Connecticut
A WOMAN SEWING
Beneath green fruited apple trees,
She sits alone and takes her ease.
Her household tasks are neatly done
She rests and watches how the sun
Marks longer shadows on the grass.
She lets the quiet minutes pass
In unregretted idle dreams;
And then, remembering her seams,
She lifts her length of lawn and lace,
And sets slow stitches in their place.
Her hands well skilled in time of need
Make with her task but languid speed;
And as her precious hours are spent
She sighs with half disturbed content,
Reluctant lest it end too soon —
Her leisured summer afternoon.
On still New England farms, in winter time,
When high enclosing hills were white with rime,
The busy hands of women plied their art
In eager haste; for each must do her part
Of daily work, with prideful skill and speed,
To meet the household’s never-ceasing need.
The painted clock upon the mantel kept
Its noisy vigil while the baby slept
Within his hooded crib. In languid rest,
The house cat purred with paws beneath her breast.
The Franklin stove sent out its grateful glow,
From heavy maple embers, hot and slow.
Great balls of rags, but newly sewn and dyed,
Made bright the spindled settle. At one side,
The rug frame stood, with canvas stretched and stout;
The clumsy hook when flashing in and out,
While flowered borders sprang to being, there.
Pieced quilts grew larger, as each tiny square
Was fitted into place. The muffled whir
Of wheel and distaff made a solemn stir
Above the voices and the gentle sound
Of laughter, as the friendly talk went round.
With wise aspiring hearts, these women strove
To shape some beauty while they stitched and wove;
And now we seek and hoard as cherished spoil
The mellowed products of their homely toil.
The Christian Science Monitor
THE SILVER TEAPOT
It sits upon the cupboard shelf
Forever thinking of itself,
How smoothly curved it is, how fine,
How stately in its every line.
It sits aslant that all may see
Its handle made of ebony,
By ladies fingers often pressed.
Although it cannot boast a crest,
The twined initials on its side
Give cause sufficient for its pride –
Two families in wedlock blent,
Of high imperious descent,
It dwells upon its memories
Of days more dignified than these,
When dames in gorgeous stiff brocade,
And men in velvet coats arrayed,
Made merry in the minuet;
Because it cannot quite forget
How elegant its times have been,
What grand assemblies it has seen.
And when I think upon these things,
And all its later wanderings,
I pass it with a friendly smile,
And leave it dreaming there the while;
For I can then, I will confess,
Forgive its silver snobbishness!
Published. Place unknown
THE HANDWOVEN COVERLET
Its clean blue length lies upon my bed,
New washed, and smoothly drawn. Its honest thread
Is still unbroken, though the hand that wove
Fell quiet years ago. The woman strove
To give her homely task the touch of art:
She strung her warp, and with a sturdy heart
For swift close labor, stinted not her skill
Nor slacked the shuttle’s hurried pace until
The long bright web was finished. It was meant
To grace her simple dower when she went
From out her mother’s house, a country bride.
Of all her work, this was her chiefest pride;
She loved it color and its trim design.
And now, ten decades later, it is mine,
To dress my bed, to comfort me in sleep –
A fine and precious thing to prize and keep.
New York Sun – date unknown
IN THE MIRROR
The mirror has a laquered frame
Of dull old red, like smokey flame.
Its long unswerving lines enclose
A picture full of light, that shows:
A doorway curtain, richly blue,
With yellow sunshine sifting through;
A teakwood table, overlaid
With heavy golden brown brocade;
A carved high seated walnut chair;
A Chinese jar of crackle ware;
A window hung with flowered folds;
A bowl of autumn marigolds.
A double meed the mirror grants
Of beauty, while its still expanse
Repeats the beauty of the room.
And gives to it an added bloom.
Published date and place unknown
A MIRROR AND A SHIP
Here where the sun lights its tarnished gold,
The mirror hangs. Its fluted pillars hold,
The glass, that shows one’s face a bit askew,
And over that a ship waves of blue,
Deep, silver-crested in a tropic breeze.
The sails are set to skim the magic seas;
And he who looks within the frame may find
Not his mere vague and pictured self, outlined
Against a shadowed room, but something more –
An ancient barque that seeks a mystic shore,
Unnamed, uncharted, in the hidden west.
And he who looks can feel the thrill of the quest
That quivers in the sails and foaming bow,
Forgetting that the gleam of cloudless sky
And zephyr-crowded canvas, white and high,
And crested waves that seem to rise and fall,
Is just a faded mirror on the wall.
Christian Science Monitor – May 26, 19xx
THE CHIMNEY CUPBOARD
This house is old, and many treasures hide
In nooks and corners. At the chimney side
A little shallow cupboard makes a display
Of china hoarded from an early day.
Bold through the glass a portly toby jug
Looks out upon the world. A luster mug
Elbows in shining pride a fat tureen
Of deep blue Staffordshire, whose painted scene
Is clearly traced and bordered. Creamy-white,
A slender salt-glazed pitcher gives delight
To our discerning eyes. A willow plate
Stands modestly beside the nobler state
Of this huge platter with its wreath and scroll.
A queensware teapot and a pewter bowl
Crowd close an ancient porringer with ears,
A ginger jar grown yellow with years
And sundry cups in mulberry and blue.
Swing back the glass, and take a nearer view
Of these few homely relics, guarded well
For old time’s sake, and tales that they might tell.
Put out perhaps, a kind caressing hand,
To trace their gentle contours where they stand;
Then loose the door and let it softly close,
And leave them to their dignified repose.
Christian Science Monitor – Date unknown
Upon the mantel, neatly placed,
They sit serenely. They have faced
In this same spot, the human scene,
And flouted it with lovely mien
And scornful eye, a hundred years.
Unheeding either mirth or tears,
With firm red claws they clutch their stands,
Assured of safety. Many hands
Have dusted clean these orange wings
And blue-green heads. Old fragile things,
They have withstood the stroke of fate
That comes to china, soon or late,
When beauty of more precious worth
Has gone its shattered way to earth.
Thus fortune mocks old Time himself,
With painted parrots on a shelf.
New York Sun