The Old Sampler

Original Text: 
Mrs. M.E.Sangster, Poems of Home Life (New York: American Tract Society, n.d.).
1Out of the way, in a corner
2        Of our dear old attic room,
3Where bunches of herbs from the hillside
4        Shake ever a faint perfume,
5An oaken chest is standing,
7Strong as the hands that made it
8        On the other side of the sea.
9When the winter days are dreary,
10        And we're out of heart with life,
11Of its crowding cares aweary,
12        And sick of its restless strife,
13We take a lesson in patience
14        From the attic corner dim,
15Where the chest still holds it treasures,
16        A warder faithful and grim.
17Robes of an antique fashion,
18        Linen and lace and silk,
19That time has tinted with saffron,
20        Though once they were white as milk;
21Wonderful baby garments,
22        'Broidered with loving care
23By fingers that felt the pleasure,
24        As they wrought the ruffles fair.
25A sword, with the red rust on it,
26        That flashed in the battle tide,
28        Sorely men's souls were tried;
29A plumed chapeau and a buckle,
30        And many a relic fine,
31And all by itself the sampler,
32        Framed in with berry and vine.
33Faded the square of canvas,
34        And dim the silken thread,
35But I think of white hands dimpled,
36        And a childish, sunny head;
37For here in cross and tent-stitch,
38        In a wreath of berry and vine,
39She worked it a hundred years ago,
41In and out in the sunshine
42        The little needle flashed,
43And in and out on the rainy day,
44        When the merry drops down plashed,
45As close she sat by her mother,
46        The little Puritan maid,
47And did her piece on the sampler,
48        While the other children played.
49You are safe in the beautiful heaven,
51But before you went you had troubles
52        Sharper than any of mine.
53Oh, the gold hair turned with sorrow
54        White as the drifted snow,
55And your tears dropped here, where I'm standing,
56        On this very plumed chapeau.
57When you put it away, its wearer
58        Would need it never more,
59By a sword-thrust learning the secrets
60        God keeps on yonder shore;
61And you wore your grief like glory,
62        You could not yield supine,
63Who wrought in your patient childhood,
65Out of the way, in a corner,
66        With hasp and padlock and key,
67Stands the oaken chest of my fathers
68        That came from over the sea;
69And the hillside herbs above it
70        Shake odors fragrant and fine,
71And here on the lid is a garland
72        To "ELIZABETH, AGED NINE."
73For love is of the immortal,
74        And patience is sublime,
75And trouble a thing of every day
76        And touching every time;
77And childhood sweet and sunny,
78        And womanly truth and grace,
79Ever can light life's darkness
80        And bless earth's lowliest place.


6] hasp: fastener. Back to Line
27] The battle of Lexington and Concord opened the American War for Independence in 1775, and the battle of Yorktown in 1881 was near its close. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
From McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: