Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BREAKING THE ROADS, by PHOEBE CARY

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BREAKING THE ROADS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: About the cottage, cold and white
Last Line: And led her home a bride!
Subject(s): Courtship; Weddings

ABOUT the cottage, cold and white,
The snow-drifts heap the ground;
Through its curtains closely drawn to-night
There scarcely steals a sound.

The task is done that patient hands
Through all the day have plied;
And the flax-wheel, with its loosened bands,
Is idly set aside.

Above the hearth-fire's pleasant glare,
Sings now the streaming spout;
The housewife, at her evening care,
Is passing in and out.

And still as here and there she flits,
With cheerful, bustling sound,
Musing, her daughter silent sits,
With eyes upon the ground.

A maiden, womanly and true,
Sweet as the mountain-rose;
No fairer form than hers ere grew
Amid the winter snows.

A rosy mouth, and o'er her brow
Brown, smoothly-braided hair,
Surely the youth beside her now
Must covet flower so fair.

For bashfulness she dare not meet
His eyes that keep their place,
So steadfastly and long in sweet
Perusal of her face.

Herself is Lucy's only charm,
To make her prized or sought;
And Ralph hath but the goodly farm
Whereon his fathers wrought.

He, with his neighbors, toiling slow
To-day till sunset's gleam,
Breaking a road-track through the snow,
Has urged his patient team.

They came at morn from every home,
They have labored cheerily;
They have cut a way through the snowy foam,
As a good ship cuts the sea.

And when his tired friends were gone,
Their pleasant labors o'er,
Ralph stayed to make a path, alone,
To Lucy's cottage-door.

The thankful dame her friend must press
To share her hearth's warm blaze:
What could the daughter give him less
Than words of grateful praise?

And now the board has given its cheer,
The eve has nearly gone,
Yet by the hearth-fire bright and clear
The youth still lingers on.

The mother rouses from her nap,
Her task awhile she keeps;
At last, with knitting on her lap,
Tired nature calmly sleeps.

Then Lucy, bringing from the shelf
Apples that mock her cheeks,
Falls working busily herself,
And half in whisper speaks.

And Ralph, for very bashfulness,
Is held a moment mute;
Then drawing near, he takes in his
The hand that pares the fruit.

Then Lucy strives to draw away
Her hand, yet kindly too,
And half in his she lets it stay, --
She knows not what to do.

"Darling," he cries, with flushing cheek,
"Forego awhile your task;
Lift up your downcast eyes and speak,
'T is but a word I ask!"

He sees the color rise and wane
Upon the maiden's face;
Then with a kiss he sets again
The red rose in its place.

The mother wakes in strange surprise,
And wondering looks about, --
"How careless, Lucy dear," she cries;
"You've let the fire go out!"

Then Lucy turned her face away,
She did not even speak;
But she looked as if the live coals lay
A-burning in her cheek.

"Ralph," said the dame, "you ne'er before
Played such a double part:
Have you made the way both to my door
And to my daughter's heart?"

"I've tried my best," cried happy Ralph,
"And if she'll be my wife,
I'll make a pathway smooth and safe
For my darling all her life!"

All winter from his home to that
Where Lucy lived content,
Along a path made hard and straight,
Her lover came and went.

And when spring smiled in all her bowers,
And birds sang far and wide,
He trod a pathway through the flowers,
And led her home a bride!

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