Monday, January 16, 2012
"An Evening in the Country Store."
An evening in the quaint old country store!
While Winter's feet were kicking at the door,
And Winter's white-nailed fingers striving hard
To raise the windows he himself had barred;
Save when he chased upon their weary rounds,
Through tracks of air, his yelling tempest-hounds.
Bark louder, storm-dogs! To our dreamy sight,
Your voices made the fire-cheer twice as bright,
Promoting high beyond a moment's doubt,
The value of the dry-goods shelved about.
There's little you'll be wanting, cheap or dear,
That has not something somewhat like it, here;
Whatever honest people drink or eat,
Or pack their bodies in, from head to feet,
Want what you may, you'll get it - search no more -
Or imitation of it - in this store.
The body's needs not only here you'll find,
But food here, too, for the sympathies and mind;
For in one corner, fed by many lands,
The small post-office dignifiedly stands,
With square, red-numbered boxes in its arms,
Well stocked with white and brown envelope charms.
Here the little girl, irresolutely gay,
Asks if there's "any thing for us to-day";
Here the farm lad, who wider fields would seek,
Comes for the county paper once a week.
Through this delivery port-hole there is hurled
Printed bombardment from the outside world;
The great, far world, whose heart-throbs up and down,
Strike pulses, e'en within this quiet town.
The quaint, well populated country store!
A hospitable, mirth productive shore,
Where masculine barks take refuge from distress,
In the port of and evening's cheerfulness.
The rusty stove, with wood-fed heat endowed,
Shoots hot invisible arrows at the crowd,
To which the chewing population nigh
Send back a prompt and vigorous reply,
And find time for side-battles of retort,
In various moralled stories, long and short:
From one that's smart and good enough to print,
To one that has a hundred hell-seeds in 't.
Here laws are put on trial by debate,
Here solved conundrums, both of Church and State;
Here is contested, with more voice than brain,
Full many a hot political campaign;
The half surmised shortcomings of the church
Are opened to some sinner's anxious search;
And criticisms the minister gets here,
From men who have not heard him once a year...
~ Will Carleton
The above is an excerpt from "An Evening in the Country Store," published in 'Farm Festivals' copyright 1881. The illustration accompanied this poem, but the artist is unknown.