Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE HAPPY LITTLE WIFE, by PHOEBE CARY



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THE HAPPY LITTLE WIFE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Now, gudhand, have you sold the cow
Last Line: To be all in all through life.
Subject(s): Marriage; Humor; Farm Life


"NOW, Gudhand, have you sold the cow
You took this morn to town?
And did you get the silver groats
In your hand, paid safely down?

"And yet I hardly need to ask;
You hardly need to tell;
For I see by the cheerful face you bring,
That you have done right well."

"Well! I did not exactly sell her,
Nor give her away, of course;
But I'll tell you what I did, good wife,
I swapped her for a horse."

"A horse! Oh, Gudhand, you have done
Just what will please me best,
For now we can have a carriage,
And ride as well as the rest."

"Nay, not so fast, my good dame,
We shall not want a gig:
I had not ridden half a mile
Till I swapped my horse for a pig."

"That's just the thing," she answered,
"I would have done myself:
We can have a flitch of bacon now
To put upon the shelf.

"And when our neighbors come to dine
With us, they'll have a treat;
There is no need that we should ride,
But there is that we should eat."

"Alack! alack!" said Gudhand,
"I fear you'll change your note,
When I tell you I haven't got the pig --
I swapped him for a goat."

"Now, bless us!" cried the good wife,
"You manage things so well;
What I should ever do with a pig
I'm sure I cannot tell.

"If I put my bacon on the shelf,
Or put it in the pot,
The folks would point at us and say
'They eat up all they've got!'

"But a good milch goat, ah! that's the thing
I've wanted all my life;
And now we'll have both milk and cheese,"
Cried the happy little wife.

"Nay, not so fast," said Gudhand,
"You make too long a leap;
When I found I couldn't drive my goat,
I swapped him for a sheep."

"A sheep, my dear! you must have tried
To suit me all the time;
'T would plague me so to have a goat,
Because the things will climb!

"But a sheep! the wool will make us clothes
To keep us from the cold;
Run out, my dear, this very night,
And build for him a fold."

"Nay, wife, it is n't me that cares
If he be penned or loosed:
I do not own the sheep at all,
I swapped him for a goose."

"There, Gudhand, I am so relieved;
It almost made me sick
To think that I should have the wool
To clip, and wash, and pick!

"'T is cheaper, too, to buy our clothes,
Than make them up at home;
And I haven't got a spinning-wheel,
Nor got a carding-comb.

"But a goose! I love the taste of goose,
When roasted nice and brown;
And then we want a feather bed,
And pillows stuffed with down."

"Now stop a bit," cried Gudhand,
"Your tongue runs like a clock;
The goose is neither here nor there,
I swapped him for a cock."

"Dear me, you manage everything
As I would have it done;
We'll know now when to stir our stumps,
And rise before the sun.

"A goose would be quite trouble-some
For me to roast and stuff;
And then our pillows and our beds
You know, are soft enough."

"Well, soft or hard," said Gudhand,
"I guess they 'll have to do;
And that we'll have to wake at morn,
Without the crowing, too!

"For you know I could n't travel
All day with naught to eat;
So I took a shilling for my cock,
And bought myself some meat."

"That was the wisest thing of all,"
Said the good wife, fond and true;
"You do just after my own heart,
Whatever thing you do.

"We do not want a cock to crow,
Nor want a clock to strike;
Thank God that we may lie in bed
As long now as we like!"

And then she took him by the beard
That fell about his throat,
And said, "While you are mine, I want
Nor goose, nor swine, nor goat!"

And so the wife kissed Gudhand,
And Gudhand kissed his wife;
And they promised to each other
To be all in all through life.






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