Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, COTTAGE AND HALL, by ALICE CARY



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COTTAGE AND HALL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: With eyes to her sewing-work dropped down
Last Line: And may be thinks of alexis.
Subject(s): Domestics; Mothers & Sons; Mourning; Death Children


WITH eyes to her sewing-work dropped down,
And with hair in a tangled shower,
And with roses kissed by the sun, so brown,
Young Janey sat in her bower --
A garden nook with work and book;
And the bars that crossed her girlish gown
Were as blue as the flaxen flower.
And her little heart it beat and beat,
Till the work shook on her knee,
For the golden combs are not so sweet
To the honey-fasting bee
As to her her thoughts of Alexis.

And across a good green piece of wood,
And across a field of flowers,
A modest, lowly house there stood
That held her eyes for hours --
A cottage low, hid under the snow
Of cherry and bean-vine flowers.
Sometimes it held her all day long,
For there at her distaff bent,
And spinning a double thread of song
And of wool, in her sweet content,
Sat the mother of young Alexis.

And Janey turned things in and out,
As foolish maids will do.
What could the song be all about?
Yet well enough she knew
That while the fingers drew the wool
As fine as fine could be,
The loving mother-heart was full
Of her boy gone to sea --
Her blue-eyed boy, her pride and joy,
On the cold and cruel sea --
Her darling boy, Alexis.

And beyond the good green piece of wood,
And the field of flowers so gay,
Among its ancient oaks there stood,
With gables high and gray,
A lofty hall, where mistress of all
She might dance the night away.
And as she sat and sewed her seam
In the garden bower that day
Alike from seam and alike from dream
Her truant thoughts would stray;
It would be so fine like a lady to shine,
And to dance the night away!
And oh, and alas for Alexis!

And suns have risen and suns gone down
On cherry and bean-vine bowers,
And the tangled curls o'er the eyes dove-brown
They fall no more in showers;
Nor are there bars in the homespun gown
As blue as the flaxen flowers.
Aye, winter wind and winter rain
Have beaten away the bowers,
And little Janey is Lady Jane,
And dances away the hours!
Maidens she hath to play and sing,
And her mother's house and land
Could never buy the jeweled ring
She wears on her lily hand --
The hand that is false to Alexis!

Ah, bright were the sweet young cheeks and eyes,
And the silken gown was gay,
When first to the hall as mistress of all
She came on her wedding-day.
"Now where, my bride," says the groom in pride --
"Now where will your chamber be?"
And from wall to wall she praises all,
But chooses the one by the sea!
And the suns they rise and the suns they set,
But she rarely sees their gleam,
For often her eyes with tears are wet.
And the sewing-work is unfinished yet,
And so is the girlish dream.

For when her ladies gird at her,
And her lord is cold and stern,
Old memories in her heart must stir,
And she cannot choose but mourn
For the gentle boy, Alexis!

And alway, when the dance is done,
And her weary feet are free,
She sits in her chamber all alone
At the window next the sea,
And combs her shining tresses down
By the light of the fading stars,
And may be thinks of her homespun gown
With the pretty flax-flower bars.
For when the foam of wintry gales
Runs white along the blue,
Hearing the rattle of stiffened sails,
She trembles through and through,
And may be thinks of Alexis.





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