Poetry of Kansas

My Snowbound

I wish I had the noble gift
    With which, in "Snowbound" Whittier writes
Of well-remembered boyhood scenes,
    And old-time, home-spent days and nights.
I, too, could conjure winter tales
    Of climbing into dusky mows.
From which, in morning twilight hours
    I pitched the hay to hungry cows.
In well-built stanchions, firm and strong
    Each cow her stated place well knew--
Secesh and Beut, Spot, Guess and Stripe.
    A yearling and a calf or two.
Equipped with mittens coats and scarfs,
    And bundled like an Eskimo,
My feet in snow, my face in storm.
    I braved the air, frost-filled and raw.
The drifts were often ten feet deep,
    And paths were made, at first down low
That higher grew as, week by week
    The storm piled snow on top of snow.
From house to woodshed snow, roof-high,
    On stormy nights entombed the doors,
And from within we dug our way
    To go, at dawn, to do the chores.
The house was spacious, long and low,
    And tenderly I now recall
Remembered scenes in every room
    In kitchen, garret, parlor, hall.
And who around the kitchen fire
    The long, cold, winter evenings spent
Around the fire and table lamp,
    On work and books and games intent?
'Tis now I crave the Muse's skill,
    And all the poet's subtle art,
To help me picture the fond ones
    In the old home, dear to my heart,
Serene and gentle Grandpa, first,
    On memory's page is well defined,
Who, past fourscore, with body frail,
    Was strong and unimpaired in mind.
A lofty human type was he,
    And full of Christly charm and grace,
Whose daily meat and drink it was
    To honor God and serve his race.
Esteemed by thousands, near and far,
    Who knew his life and voice and pen,
He seemed unconscious of his fame,
    And humbly met his fellow men.
A helpmeet fit for such a soul
    Was Grandma, positive but kind,
Where met, in happy unity,
    A woman's heart and master's mind.
With practical and thrifty care
    She guarded well the meager store;
While pious faith and hope and love
    Like jewels in a crown she wore.
The Wise Man's woman, excellent,
    Was not a nobler, higher type,
Than Grandma, wholesome, holy, true,
    Of chastened heart and wisdom ripe.
And dearest aunts were in the home
    Five maiden aunts to mother me.
Was ever youngster mothered more
    Than I, in that bless'd company?
Their smile and fondlings linger yet;
    In memory I have them now;
I hear their gentle words and feel
    Their loving fingers on my brow.
Child study and psychology
    Had sounded not their regal noise;
But still "the Antilles" knew quite well
    The workings of the souls of boys.
By precept and example true,
    They sought to guide me in the way,
And though my feet would stray aside,
    I felt a wholesome check each day.
And I, adown the years, have had
    The golden cord of that dear home,
To guide me from forbidden paths,
    As in the fields of life I roam.
O home of mine! O boyhood home!
    O snowbound home in winter's rage!
I was, in youth, so bound to thee
    That now lovebound I am, in age.
'Tis now my prayer, my present home
    Shall tender, helpful, holy be,
So that our children's future years
    Be hallowed with sweet memory.
Oh, may our own, my boys and girls,
    In years to come, as on they roam,
Be moved to cry, as I cry now:
    "My dear, my blessed childhood home."

Quillings In Verse
John Edward Everett
(Smith Center: ___. 1912)
Page 83-86

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March 21, 2005 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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