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AMBITION

I used to wish that I might go
Far up where mountain torrents flow;
Where pale snow-flowers glimmer white,
And eagles wheel in solemn flight.

But now I find that year by year
My lowland homestead grows more dear.
I only want to watch my bees,
To ten my cabbages and peas,
To pluck the gentians in the grass
And count the swallows as they pass.

HOUSE AND HOME

What is a house?  A few bare walls,
With here and there a window-pane;
A pair of stairs, some rooms and halls,
A roof to keep away the rain.

There must be more, if it would win
The name of home, and hold it well:
For if thee is not love therein,
A house is but an empty shell.

Published in the New York Sun, March 7, 1930

HOUSES

Little houses, neat and white,
Lilac-hedged, are my delight.
I would have them thus and so:
Squat of chimney, rambling, low,
Dormered, shuttered all with green.
Ivy vine and scarlet bean
Might be climbing round the door.
I should ask but little more:
Flowers at the window-sill
(Mignonette or what you will),
Stepping stones, perhaps, with phlox
At the edge, or four-o’clocks.

Little houses, neat and white,
Lilac-hedged, are my delight.

Christian Science Monitor
1728 Regent Street, Madison, Wisconsin

THE HOUSE I LIKE

I like a house that’s getting old,
A country cottage that has told
Its hundred years, or even more.
I like the board planks in the floor;
The windows with their panes so small
One cannot stop to count them all;
The simple mantels painted white,
With pillars set at left and right,
And mellowed reddish bricks below.
I like the narrow stairs that go
By steep ascent to rooms above,
Low studded chambers; and I love
The dormers where the ceiling slants,
Whose casements frame the still expanse

Of cloud and sky; the cupboards placed
In odd dark nooks; the attic, braced
With sturdy hand hewn maple beams;
The gable where the fanlight gleams.
I like a house with gentle ways,
That bears the marks of other days,
Where sober age unshamed appears –
A house that’s getting on in years.

New York Sun
1728 Regent Street, Madison, Wisconsin

HOME HAPPINESS
The little tasks that make the days,
They are not much in others’ sight,
Yet they can find a hundred ways
To yield me up their sure delight.

I once had thought of greater things,
In cities far beyond the town,
And my ambition soared on wings,
To droop again and nestle down,

And seek at home its happiness.
My heart is given all it asks:
Still days, that prove their dear success
In all their little joyous tasks.

Published in the New York Sun.
1728 Regent Street, Madison, Wisconsin

GLIMPSE OF AN INTERIOR

Above the mantel, painted white, we view
An old French mirror, dully edged with blue,
And flanked by shaded candles.  Deep below
the coals within their iron grating glow
Upon a Chinese rug of strange design,
Obscurely figured in symbolic line.
Behind a chair of blue and orange chintz
Are dim-bound books on shelves; and then two prints
Of paintings by Vermeer.  Along the side,
Beneath a creamy panel, is descried
A small black table, covered with a square
Of faded orange silk; and flashing there
A crystal bowl of golden-darting fish
That flicker shadows on a lacquered dish
Of tawny tangerines.
And now the door
Is swiftly shut.  The vision is no more.

The New York Sun

RAIN IN THE NIGHT

Within the house, enwrapped in gloom,
A new coolness runs from room to room;
The sleepers half awake in dreamful ease,
And turn their faces to the welcome breeze.
A dull faint tapping now begins and stops,
And swift returns with heavy swirling drops.
The family reposing snug in bed
Hear on the stairs a still and cautious tread,
A groping hand that fumbles on the walls:
The watchful housewife, creeping through the halls
To close the windows on the stormy side,
And save from harm the shining floors, her pride —
The ruffled curtain and the cushioned chair,
And all the objects of her zealous care.
Now at a stroke the surging tempest comes,
With frenzied beating like the pulse of drums
With loud advancing and receding roar,
It pelts the roof and batters at the door.
But safe ensconced in shadowed chambers where
New freshness tempers all the air,
The household flout the raging gusts that sweep,
And sighing seek again the depths of sleep.

Written at Cos Cob, Connecticut

CANDLES IN THE HOME

We lighted them as dusk came on,
Before the last gold cloud was gone;
And through the house they make a light
As soft as moon-glow in the night,
And cast their shaded beams around
On rows of books demurely bound,
Or yellow flowers in a jar
Of old blue Canton. Near and far
From room to room, a brightened space
Reveals perhaps a portrait’s face,
With steadfast eyes. A faded rug,
A deep chintz chair, a copper jug,
A figured hanging, richly dyed,
A dull framed print, a sofa wide
And luring with its cushions, made
Of tinted velvet and brocade.
In this warm glimmer that illumes
Yet shadows still, the old house blooms
To mystery and beauty more
Than it has ever known before.
Most lovely and remote it seems,
A dim secluded house of dreams.

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