Ah, the weary waste of pillow where I laid my lonely
Sinking, like a shipwrecked sailor, in a patchwork sea of bed,
While the moonlight through the casement cast a grim and ghastly glare
O’er the stiff and stately presence of each dismal haircloth chair;
And it touched the mantel’s splendor, where the wax fruit used to be,
And the alabaster image Uncle Josh brought home from sea;
While the breeze that shook the curtains spread a musty, faint perfume
And a subtle scent of camphor through the best spare room.
Round the walls were hung the pictures of the dear
ones passed away,
“Uncle Si and A’nt Lurany,” taken on their wedding day;
Cousin Ruth, who died at twenty, in the corner had a place
Near the wreath from Eben’s coffin, dipped in wax and in a case;
Grandpa Wilkins, done in color by some artist of the town,
Ears askew and somewhat cross-eyed, but with fixed and awful frown,
Seeming somehow to be waiting to enjoy the dreadful doom
Of the frightened little sleeper in the best spare room.
Every rustle of the corn-husks in the mattress underneath
Was to me a ghostly whisper muttered through a phantom’s teeth,
And the mice behind the wainscot, as they scampered round about,
Filled my soul with speechless horror when I’d put the candle out.
So I’m deeply sympathetic when some story I have read
Of a victim buried living by his friends who thought him dead;
And I think I know his feelings in the cold and silent tomb,
For I’ve slept at Uncle Hiram’s in the best spare room.
* * * * *
It’s alone in the dark of the old wagon-shed,
Where the spider-webs swing from the beams overhead,
And the sun, siftin’ in through the dirt and the mold
Of the winder’s dim pane, specks it over with gold.
Its curtains are tattered, its cushions are worn,
It’s a kind of a ghost of a carriage, forlorn,
And the dust from the roof settles down like a pall
On the sorrowin’ shape of the old carryall.
It was built long ago, when the world seemed ter be
A heaven, jest made up for Mary and me,
And my mind wanders back to that first happy ride
When she sat beside me,—my beauty and bride.
Ah, them were the days when the village was new
And folks took time to live, as God meant ’em ter do;
And there’s many a huskin’ and quiltin’ and ball
That we drove to and back in the old carryall.
And here in the paint are the marks of the feet
Where a little form climbed ter the high-fashioned seat,
And soft baby fingers them curtains have swung,
And a curly head’s nestled the cushions among;
And then come the gloom of that black, bitter day
When “Thy will be done” looked so wicked ter say
As we drove to the grave, while the rain seemed to fall
Like the tears of the sky on the old carryall.