Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SPLENDID ISOLATION; A MORAL FROM LEXINTON, 1775, by KATHARINE LEE BATES

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SPLENDID ISOLATION; A MORAL FROM LEXINTON, 1775, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Oh, but my husband, matthew
Last Line: At last it mattered to him.
Subject(s): American Revolution; Lexington, Battle Of (1775); Concord, Battle Of

Oh, but my husband, Matthew,
Was a slip from a crab apple tree!
Laughed when we women would punish
King George by giving up tea!
(How I missed my cup of Bohea!)
"So I have my sling in the morning,
My blackstrap at noon," said he,
"And my toddy at night, you'll not see me fight
For the sake of a swallow of tea.
What does it matter to me?"

The neighbors pointed the finger,
But he only chuckled to see.
Not even with Parson Jonas Clarke
Would my contrary man agree.
When Parson thundered against the Five
Intolerable Acts
Till the meeting-house hummed like an angry hive,
Matthew would mutter: "I'm still alive,
And my arms and legs are free.
What does it matter to me?"

That Tuesday I had been brewing
A fresh lot of beer for the flip
That Matthew will gulp by the mugful,
While of tea I have never a sip.
(But we've got King George on the hip!)
I'd been baking and sanding and scouring,
So I lighted a tallow dip
Tired bones to balm with a blessed psalm,
When a knock sent Rhoda, our slip
Of a lass, to the door with a skip.

But her face that had been so rosy
-- And all for a lad in his teens --
Went white as she saw three strangers stand,
Their cloaks drawn close for screens.
A whisk of wind, and the moonlight showed
Flecks of the hated red.
Without a word those tall shapes strode
To our great brick oven; they stole its load
And back into darkness fled
With our supper of beans and brown bread.

The lobsters! I hope their noses
Were burned on the beanpot rim.
Home came my hungry Matthew,
His mouth uncommonly grim
As I told my tale with a vim.
He stooped with the flickering candle
To that oven empty and dim,
Then rose and sprung where his flintlock hung,
A patriot up to the brim!
At last it mattered to him.

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