Alice Cary

(1820-1871 / USA)

Sandy Macleod


When I think of the weary nights and days
Of poor, hard-working folk, always
I see, with his head on his bosom bowed,
The luckless shoemaker, Sandy Macleod.

Jeering schoolboys used to say
His chimney would never be raked away
By the moon, and you by a jest so rough
May know that his cabin was low enough.

Nothing throve with him; his colt and cow
Got their living, he didn't know how, -
Yokes on their scraggy necks swinging about,
Beating and bruising them year in and out.

Out at the elbow he used to go, -
Alas for him that he did not know
The way to make poverty regal, - not he,
If such way under the sun there be.

Sundays all day in the door he sat,
A string of withered-up crape on his hat,
The crown half fallen against his head,
And half sewed in with a shoemaker's thread.

Sometimes with his hard and toil-worn hand
He would smooth and straighten th' faded band,
Thinking perhaps of a little mound
Black with nettles the long year round.

Blacksmith and carpenter, both were poor,
And there was the schoolmaster who, to be sure,
Had seen rough weather, but after all
When they met Sandy he went to the wall.

His wife was a lady, they used to say,
Repenting at leisure her wedding-day,
And that she was come of a race too proud
E'er to have mated with Sandy Macleod!

So fretting she sat from December to June,
While Sandy, poor soul, to a funeral-tune
Would beat out his hard, heavy leather, until
He set himself up, and got strength to be still.

It was not the full moon that made it so light
In the poor little dwelling of Sandy one night,
It was not the candles all shining around, -
Ah, no! 't was the light of the day he had found.

Submitted: Friday, April 11, 2014

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