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Poetry thread a little late: The Harp Weaver

Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Dec 22 2012, 2:44pm


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Poetry thread a little late: The Harp Weaver Can't Post

I forgot all about the poetry thread on Thursday, and I wanted to post the Ballad of the Harp Weaver. Be sure to have a hankie handy, especially if you listen to Johnny Cash's version


The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Son,” said my mother,
 When I was knee-high,
“you’ve need of clothes to cover you,
 and not a rag have I.

“There’s nothing in the house
 To make a boy breeches,
Nor shears to cut a cloth with,
 Nor thread to take stitches.

“There’s nothing in the house
 But a loaf-end of rye,
And a harp with a woman’s head
 Nobody will buy,”
 And she began to cry.

That was in the early fall.
 When came the late fall,
“Son,” she said, “the sight of you
 Makes your mother’s blood crawl, —

“Little skinny shoulder-blades
 Sticking through your clothes!
And where you’ll get a jacket from
 God above knows.

“It’s lucky for me, lad,
 Your daddy’s in the ground,
And can’t see the way I let
 His son go around!”
 And she made a queer sound.

That was in the late fall.
 When the winter came,
I’d not a pair of breeches
 Nor a shirt to my name.

I couldn’t go to school,
 Or out of doors to play.
And all the other little boys
 Passed our way.

“Son,” said my mother,
 “Come, climb into my lap,
And I’ll chafe your little bones
 While you take a nap.”

And, oh, but we were silly
 For half and hour or more,
Me with my long legs,
 Dragging on the floor,

A-rock-rock-rocking
 To a mother-goose rhyme!
Oh, but we were happy
 For half an hour’s time!

But there was I, a great boy,
 And what would folks say
To hear my mother singing me
 To sleep all day,
 In such a daft way?

Men say the winter
 Was bad that year;
Fuel was scarce,
 And food was dear.

A wind with a wolf’s head
 Howled about our door,
And we burned up the chairs
 And sat upon the floor.

All that was left us
 Was a chair we couldn’t break,
And the harp with a woman’s head
 Nobody would take,
 For song or pity’s sake.

The night before Christmas
 I cried with cold,
I cried myself to sleep
 Like a two-year old.

And in the deep night
 I felt my mother rise,
And stare down upon me
 With love in her eyes.

I saw my mother sitting
 On the one good chair,
A light falling on her
 From I couldn’t tell where.

Looking nineteen,
 And not a day older,
And the harp with a woman’s head
 Leaned against her shoulder.

Her thin fingers, moving
 In the thin, tall strings,
Were weav-weav-weaving
 Wonderful things.

Many bright threads,
 From where I couldn’t see,
Were running through the harp-strings
 Rapidly,

And gold threads whistling
 Through my mother’s hand.
I saw the web grow,
 And the pattern expand.

She wove a child’s jacket,
 And when it was done
She laid it on the floor
 And wove another one.

She wove a red cloak
 So regal to see,
“She’s made it for a king’s son,”
 I said, “and not for me.”
 But I knew it was for me.

She wove a pair of breeches
 Quicker than that!
She wove a pair of boots
 And a little cocked hat.

She wove a pair of mittens,
 She wove a little blouse,
She wove all night
 In the still, cold house.

She sang as she worked,
 And the harp-strings spoke;
Her voice never faltered,
 And the thread never broke,
 And when I awoke, —

There sat my mother
 With the harp against her shoulder,
Looking nineteeen,
 And not a day older,

A smile about her lips,
 And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
 Frozen dead.

And piled beside her
 And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king’s son,
 Just my size.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Dec 22 2012, 2:47pm)

Subject User Time
Poetry thread a little late: The Harp Weaver Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Dec 22 2012, 2:44pm
    Wow, I have never heard of this before! Ethel Duath Send a private message to Ethel Duath Dec 23 2012, 3:02am
        Edna St. Vincent Millay Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Dec 23 2012, 3:28am
            Yes, that's a "family song" Ethel Duath Send a private message to Ethel Duath Dec 23 2012, 3:38am
                One of my Favorite Christmas Songs... Morthoron Send a private message to Morthoron Dec 25 2012, 3:51am
    For the season--something old and something new. Ethel Duath Send a private message to Ethel Duath Dec 23 2012, 3:26am
        I love both of those. Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Dec 23 2012, 3:31am

 
 
 

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