Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Helen and Mary

I've been researching poetry and verse about knitting during the American Civil War. This is an early one from the North. I have not discovered as many poems from the South...but I know they are out there.

The Ladies’ Repository, Vol. 22, 1862
Pg. 368

Helen and Mary, by Josephine Pollard

“Nonsense, Helen: there’s no reason
         Why you should remain alone;
Nothing in the world to hinder—
         Every moment is your own:
You can lounge, or walk, or visit,
         Taking comfort as you go;
Come and see me often, Helen,
         I am seldom out, you know.

Household cares are so engrossing,
         And my children are so small,
I have very little freedom,
         Scarcely time to make a call;
But there’s nothing to prevent you,
         ‘Tis no task to grant this boon;
Come and see me often, Helen,
         Come and see me very soon.”

“True, no children cling around me,
         Claiming mother’s love and care;
Though no household cares distract me,
         Duties spring up every-where.
In such times as these, dear Mary,
         Want at many a threshold stands;
There is work to do in plenty—
         Could I sit with folded hands?

Those brave men who have gone forward
         For our country’s flag to fight,
Need warm garments to protect them
         Through the wintery day and night.
Women’s hands must labor for them;
         Women’s hearts must send good cheer
To the homes where widows languish:
         Soothing many an orphan’s tear.

Mary, I’ve no heart to visit;
         I’m not idle, though you say
I have plenty leisure moments,
         Duties spring up every day.
Here are soldiers’ socks to finish
Coverlets to baste and tack;
Slippers waiting for the binding;
            Shirts and blankets yet to pack.

While brave men have left their firesides
            To endure want, woe, and pain,
We should practice self-denial
            Till sweet Peace returns again.
When these troublous times are over,
            When with palms we deck the brow
I will come and see you, Mary,
            Every day; but, O, not now.”

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