Graphic from the book for the top of even-numbered pages

The Washerwoman's Song

In a very humble cot,
In a rather quiet spot,
      In the suds and in the soap,
      Worked a woman full of hope;
Working, singing, all alone;
In a sort of undertone.
      "With the savior for a friend,
      He will keep me to the end;"
 
Sometimes happening along.
I had heard the semi-song,
      And I often used to smile,
      More in sympathy than guile;
But I never said a word
In regard to what I heard,
      As she sang about her friend
      Who would keep her to the end.
 
Not in sorrow nor in glee
Working all day long was she,
      As her children three or four,
      Played around her on the floor;
But in monotones the song
She was humming all day long;
      "With the Savior for a friend
      He will keep me to the end.
 
It's a song I do not sing,
For I scarce believe a thing
      Of the stories that are told
      Of the miracles of old;
But I know that her belief
Is the anodyne of grief,
      And will always be a friend
      That will keeep her to the end.
 
Just a trifle lonesome she,
Just as poor as poor could be;
      But her spirits always rose
      Like the bubbles in the clothes,
And, though widowed and alone,
Cheered her with the monotone,
      Of a Savior and a friend
      Who would keep her to the end.
 
I have seen her rub and scrub,
On the washboard in the tub,
      While the baby, sopped in suds,
      Rolled and tumbled in the duds;
Or was paddling in the pools,
With old scissors stuck in spools;
      She still humming of her friend
      Who would keep her to the end.
 
Human hopes and human creeds
Have their root in human needs:
      And I should not wish to strip
      From that washerwomans's lip
Any song that she can sing.
Any hope that songs can bring;
      For the woman has a friend
      Who will keep her to the end.
___Eugene Ware
 
Sunflowers, A Book of Kansas Poems
Selected by Willard Wattles
pages 200-201
(Chicago: A. C. McClurg. 1916)
 
February 10, 2005 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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