Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Southern Poem

Savannah Republican, GA, January 16, 1862

There’s but one Pair of Stockings to Mend To-night.

An old wife sat by her bright fire-side,
Swaying thoughtfully to and fro,
 In an ancient chair whose creaky craw
Told a tale of long ago;
Wile down by her side on the kitchen floor,
Stood a basket of worsted balls – a score.

The good man dozed o’er the latest news,
Till the light of his pipe went out;
And unheeded, the kitten with cunning paws,
Rolled out and tangled the balls about;
Yet still sat the wife in the ancient chair,
Swaying to and fro in the fire-light glare.

But anon, a misty tear-drop came
In her eyes of faded blue,
Then trickled down in a furrow deep,
Like a single drop of dew;
So deep was the channel – so silent the stream,
The good man saw naught but the dim’d eyebeam.

Yet marveled he much that the cheerful light
Of her eye, had weary grown,
And marveled he more at the tangled balls-
So he said in a gentle tone:
“I have shared thy joys since our marriage vow,
Conceal not from me thy sorrows now.”

Then she spoke of the time when the basket there
Was filled to the very brim,
And now there remained of the goodly pile
But a single pair – for him;
Then wonder not at the dimmed eye-light;
There’s but one pair of stockings to mend to-night.

I cannot but think of the busy feet,
Whose wrappings were wont to lay
In the basket awaiting the needle’s tines –
Now wandered so far away;
How the sprightly steps to a mother dear
Unheeded fell on the careless ear.

For each empty nook in the basket old,
By the hearth there’s an empty seat;
And I miss the shadows form off the wall,
And the patter of many feet;
“Tis for this that a tear gathered over my sight;
At the one pair of stockings to mend to-night.

“Twas said that far through the forest wild
And over the mountains bold,
Was a land whose rivers and darkening caves,
Were gemmed with the fairest gold;
Then my first-born turned from the oaken door,
And I knew the shadows were only four.

Another went forth on the foaming wave
And diminished the basket’s store –
But his feet grew cold – so weary and cold –
They’ll never be warm any more –
And this nook in its emptiness, seemeth to me,
To give forth no voice but the moan of the sea.

Two others have gone towards the setting sun,
And made them a home in its light,
And fairy fingers have taken their share,
To mend by the fire-side bright;
Some other baskets their garments fill –
But mine! Oh! mine is emptier still.

Another – the dearest – the fairest – the best –
Was taken by the angels away,
And clad in a garment that waxeth not old,
In a land of a continual day.
O! wonder no more at the dimmed eye-light,
While I mend the one pair of stockings to-night.

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