THE OLD SAMPLER - Katharine Hinkson Poems


Poems » katharine hinkson » the old sampler


Out of the way, in a corner
        Of our dear old attic room,
Where bunches of herbs from the hillside
        Shake ever a faint perfume,
An oaken chest is standing,
        With hasp and padlock and key,
Strong as the hands that made it
        On the other side of the sea.

When the winter days are dreary,
        And we're out of heart with life,
Of its crowding cares aweary,
        And sick of its restless strife,
We take a lesson in patience
        From the attic corner dim,
Where the chest still holds it treasures,
        A warder faithful and grim.

Robes of an antique fashion,
        Linen and lace and silk,
That time has tinted with saffron,
        Though once they were white as milk;
Wonderful baby garments,
        'Broidered with loving care
By fingers that felt the pleasure,
        As they wrought the ruffles fair.

A sword, with the red rust on it,
        That flashed in the battle tide,
When from Lexington to Yorktown
        Sorely men's souls were tried;
A plumed chapeau and a buckle,
        And many a relic fine,
And all by itself the sampler,
        Framed in with berry and vine.

Faded the square of canvas,
        And dim the silken thread,
But I think of white hands dimpled,
        And a childish, sunny head;
For here in cross and tent-stitch,
        In a wreath of berry and vine,
She worked it a hundred years ago,

In and out in the sunshine
        The little needle flashed,
And in and out on the rainy day,
        When the merry drops down plashed,
As close she sat by her mother,
        The little Puritan maid,
And did her piece on the sampler,
        While the other children played.

You are safe in the beautiful heaven,
But before you went you had troubles
        Sharper than any of mine.
Oh, the gold hair turned with sorrow
        White as the drifted snow,
And your tears dropped here, where I'm standing,
        On this very plumed chapeau.

When you put it away, its wearer
        Would need it never more,
By a sword-thrust learning the secrets
        God keeps on yonder shore;
And you wore your grief like glory,
        You could not yield supine,
Who wrought in your patient childhood,

Out of the way, in a corner,
        With hasp and padlock and key,
Stands the oaken chest of my fathers
        That came from over the sea;
And the hillside herbs above it
        Shake odors fragrant and fine,
And here on the lid is a garland

For love is of the immortal,
        And patience is sublime,
And trouble a thing of every day
        And touching every time;
And childhood sweet and sunny,
        And womanly truth and grace,
Ever can light life's darkness
        And bless earth's lowliest place.