Jean Blewett

(4 November 1872 - 1934 / Scotia, Lake Erie, Ontario)

The Treasure Box - Poem by Jean Blewett

I asked Aunt Persis yester-eve, as twilight fell,
If she had things of value hidden safe away-
Treasures that were her very own? And did she love
To bring them forth, and feast her eyes upon their worth,
And finger them with all a miser's greed of touch?

She smiled that slow, warm smile of hers, and drew me down
Beside her in the inglenook. The rain beat hard
Against the panes, without the world was doubly gray
With twilight and with cloud. The room was full of shade
Till Persis stirred the slumbering grate fire wide awake,
And made it send its flickering shafts of light into
Each corner dim-gay shafts that chased the shadows forth
And took their place, then stole away and let
The shadow back, and then gave chase again,
The maddest and the stillest game!

To music of
The raindrops on the pane, and wind that softly shrilled
About the eaves, the treasure box was opened wide
And its contents exposed to the rude gaze of one
Too young, too worldly-wise to know their value great.
I thought to see pearls, corals, quaint, old-fashioned gems,
Or lace like gossamer creamed by the hand of time-
Real treasures worthy of the hoarding.

Lo! I saw
A leather-covered book, a worn and musty thing
With ragged leaves and many marks. 'What is it?' I asked;
'To me it looks the school-book that some stupid child
Has learned its lesson from.'
'And so it is,' she smiled. 'My father's testament,
And at his knee I conned the Golden Rule, and all
The wondrous truths that teach us how to live. 'Tis dear
To me, you may suppose.'

A knot of ribbon that
Had once been blue, a braid of dark brown hair, a spray
Of lily o' the valley, withered, sere, yet holding still a breath
Of sweetness indescribable; some letters tied
With silk, a broken fan, some verses scribbled on
A yellow page, a baby's shoe, more letters, and,
What think you, friend? A string of amber beads, without
A trace of value-beads of glass strung on a bit
Of twine. Aunt Persis took them in her hand and let
The firelight play on them. 'My grandmother's first gift,'
She said, and slipped them round her neck. 'I love them best
Of all my ornaments-each amber bead holds fast
A joy caught in the childhood days of pleasantness,
And when I sit here with the sparkling things held close
The joys they gathered long ago slip from them to
My heart, and ere I know, I am a child once more.

'Treasures! Nay, dear one, in your clear young eyes I see
The disappointment grow-no treasures these, you say;
These faded things, and poor, these musty, ragged things-
But some day in the gloaming of your life you'll ope
Your treasure box, and find a hoard of just such things
As these-a few rare trifles wrapped in memories.'

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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