Sugar-Making Poem by Phoebe Cary


The crocus rose from her snowy bed
As she felt the spring’s caresses,
And the willow from her graceful head
Shook out her yellow tresses.

Through the crumbling walls of his icy cell
Stole the brook, a happy rover;
And he made a noise like a silver bell
In running under and over.

The earth was pushing the old dead grass
With lily hand from her bosom,
And the sweet brown buds of the sassafras
Could scarcely hide the blossom.

And breaking nature’s solitude
Came the axe strokes clearly ringing,
For the chopper was busy in the wood
Ere the early birds were singing.

All day the hardy settler, now
At his tasks, was toiling steady;
His fields were cleared, and his shining plow
Was set by the furrow ready.

And down in the woods, where the sun appeared
Through the naked branches breaking,
His rustic cabin had been reared
For the time of sugar-making.

And now, as about it he came and went,
Cheerfully planning and toiling,
His good child sat there, with eyes intent
On the fire and the kettles boiling.

With the beauty Nature gave as her dower,
And the artless grace she taught her,
The woods could boast no fairer flower
Than Rose, the settler’s daughter.

She watched the pleasant fire a-near,
And her father coming and going,
And her thoughts were all as sweet and clear
As the drops from his pail o’erflowing.

For she scarce had dreamed of earthly ills,
And love had never found her;
She lived shut in by the pleasant hills
That stood as a guard around her.

And she might have lived the self-same way
Through all the springs to follow,
But for a youth, who came one day
Across her in the hollow.

He did not look like a wicked man,
And yet, when he saw that blossom,
He said, “I will steal this Rose if I can,
And hide it in my bosom.”

That he could be tired you had not guessed
Had you seen him lightly walking;
But he must have been, for he stopped to rest
So long that they fell to talking.

Alas! he was athirst, he said,
Yet he feared there was no slaking
The deep and quenchless thirst he had
For a draught beyond his taking.

Then she filled the cup and gave to him,
The settler’s blushing daughter;
And he looked at her across the brim
As he slowly drank the water.

And he sighed as he put the cup away,
For lips and soul were drinking:
But what he drew from her eyes, that day
Was the sweetest, to his thinking.

I do not know if her love awoke
Before his words awoke it;
If she guessed at his before he spoke,
Or not till he had spoke it.

But howsoe’er she made it known,
And howsoe’er he told her,
Each unto each the heart had shown
When the year was little older.

For oft he came her voice to hear,
And to taste of the sugar-water;
And she was a settler’s wife next year
Who had been the settler’s daughter.

And now their days are fair and fleet
As the days of sugar weather,
While they drink the water, clear and sweet,
Of the cup of life together.

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