Celia Thaxter

(29 June 1835 – 25 August 1894 / Portsmouth, New Hampshire)

Karen


At her low quaint wheel she sits to spin,
Deftly drawing the long, light rolls
Of carded wool through her finders thin,
By the fireside at the Isles of Shoals.

She is not pretty, she is not young,
Poor homesick Karen, who sits and spins,
Humming a song in her tongue,
That falters and stops, and again begins,

While her wheel flies fast, with its drowsy hum,
And she makes a picture of pensive grace
As thoughts of her well-loved Norway come
And deepen the shadows across her face.

Her collar is white as the drifted snow,
And she spun and wove her blue gown fine
With those busy hands. See, a flitting glow
Makes her pale cheek burn and her dark eyes shine!

Left you a lover in that far land,
O Karen sad, that you pine so long?
Would I could unravel and understand
That sorrowful, sweet Norwegian song!

When the spring wind blew, the "America wind,"
As your people call it, that bears away
Their youths and maidens a home to find
In this distant country, could you not stay

And live in that dear Norway still,
And let the emigrant crowd sail West
Without you? Well, you have had your will.
Why would you fly from your sheltering nest?

O homesick Karen, listen to me:
You are not young and you are not fair,
But Waldemar no one else can see,
For he carries your image everywhere.

Is he too boyish a lover for you,
With all his soul in his frank blue eyes?
Feign you unconsciousness? Is it true
You know not his heart in your calm hand lies?

Handsome and gentle and good is he;
Loves you, Karen, better than life;
But do consider him, can't you see
What a happy woman would be his wife?

You won't be merry? You can't be glad?
Still must you mourn for that home afar?
Well, here is an end of a hope I had,
And I am sorry for Waldemar!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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