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Quilt Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Sewing Circle by Evander A. Crewson
  2. The Quilting Bee by John Langdon Heaton
  3. The Patchwork Quilt by Margaret E. Sangster
  4. The Patchwork Quilt by Margaret Mason
  5. Patchwork by Lucy Wiggin
  6. Mother's Old Quilt by Albina Brockway Letts
  7. The Quilting by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  8. Prudence True's Crazy Quilt by Sam Walter Foss
  9. The Crazy Quilt by Anonymous

  1. The Sewing Circle

    by Evander A. Crewson

    Sewing, sewing, busy sewing;
    Hear the scissors rattle, rattle;
    Everybody's tongue agoing—
    Tittle-tattle, tittle-tattle.

    Good intentions, glorious cause—
    Willing angels in life's battle;
    Picking out the little flaws—
    Tittle-tattle, tittle-tattle.

    Making some poor mother clothes;
    Helping buy the baby's rattle;
    Hitting friends and hitting foes—
    Tittle-tattle, tittle-tattle.

    Willing hearts and willing hands:
    Generals all in life's battle;
    Laying bare each other's plans—
    Tittle-tattle, tittle-tattle.

  2. The Quilting Bee

    by John Langdon Heaton

    As when the farmers wives at quilting time,
    Grouped 'round the that bear the work ply,
    Cover a little space with scroll line
    Of pattern slowly wrought and patiently,
    Then turn the edges inward; till at last
    Warm hand meets hand along the roll,
    And daylight fading finds the labor past,
    The stitches ended at a common goal—
    So may the fabric of commingling fates
    Draw us still closer as our lives flow on
    Till hand in hand at sunset's golden gates
    We face the dark beyond in unison,
    The work we wrought upon life's narrowing
    Forming the pattern of one perfect whole.

  3. The Patchwork Quilt

    by Margaret E. Sangster

    In sheen of silken splendor,
    With glinting threads of gold,
    I've seen the priceless marvels
    Once hung in halls of old,
    Where fair hands wrought the lily,
    And brave hands held the lance,
    And stately lords and ladies
    Stepped through the courtly dance.

    I've looked on rarer fabrics,
    The wonders of the loom,
    That caught the flowers of summer,
    And captive held their bloom;
    But not their wreathing beauty,
    Though fit for queens to wear,
    Can with one household treasure,
    That's all my own, compare.

    It has no golden value,
    The simple patchwork spread,—
    Its squares in homely fashion
    Set in with green and red;
    But in those faded pieces
    For me are shining bright,
    Ah! many a summer morning,
    And many a winter night.

    The dewy breath of clover,
    The leaping light of flame,
    Like spells my heart come over,
    As one by one I name
    These bits of old-time dresses—
    Chintz, cambric, calico—
    That looked so fresh and dainty
    On my darlings long ago.

    This violet was mother's;
    I seem to see her face,
    That ever like a sunrise
    Lit up the shadiest place.
    This buff belonged to Susan;
    That scarlet spot was mine;
    And Fannie wore this pearly white,
    Where purple pansies shine.

    I turn my patchwork over—
    A book with pictured leaves—
    And I feel the lilac fragrance,
    And the snow-fall on the eaves.
    Of all my heart's possessions,
    I think it least could spare
    The quilt we children pieced at home
    When mother dear was there.

  4. The Patchwork Quilt

    by Margaret Mason

    Light and shadows rise and fall
    In the room with the rosy-papered wall,
    Room to me that is best of all.

    Wind, lift up the muslin screen!
    Let in the light that comes between
    The maple leaves of shining green.

    Fall soft upon the patchwork spread,
    Quilt of blue and white and red,
    Upon a carved old-fashioned bed.

    Your worn-out squares are quilted through
    With thoughts of all I used to do,
    When I wore the dresses now in you.

    I was a girl with braided hair,—
    I think of the time I gave the tear,
    The zigzag rent beyond repair,—

    As I went through the fields a girlish rover,
    In dress of white all dotted over
    With sprigs of wheat, and sprays of clover.

    Oh, dress! that once was mine to wear,
    Your clover blooms are scattered there
    In the pink and white of that patchwork square.

    Wind, lift up the muslin screen!
    Let in the light that comes between
    The maple leaves of shining green.

    Fall soft upon the patchwork spread;
    For a little child that now is dead,
    Sewed your squares of white and red.

    One summer's day she wrought in you,
    And left her needle half-way through,
    With a knotted, twisted thread of blue.

    Before she slept that summer's night,
    She laid away, and out of sight,
    Your folded squares of red and white.

    She sought for blooms that fadeless grow,
    And left for other hands to sew
    The clover blossoms here below.

    And still the light through windows small,
    Throws shadows on the rosy wall,
    On the quaint old-fashioned bedstead tall;

    And falls in waving bars of gold
    Across each faded, wrinkled fold
    Of clover blossoms growing old;

    While into Life's great patchwork square,
    With knotted threads of thought and care,
    I sew my dreams and fancies fair.

    When night shall deeper shadows throw,
    I will leave my work, and softly go
    To seek for blooms that fadeless grow.

    What matters it? I will not grieve,
    If other hands shall interweave
    And smooth the tangled threads I leave.

    Beyond the dark, in fields of bliss,
    I'll gather flowers, and will not miss
    The clover blossoms left in this.

    I will backward look through all the shade,
    To see in full completeness laid
    The patchwork squares that I have made.

  5. Patchwork

    by Lucy Wiggin

    Little Miss Margery sits and sews,
    Painfully creaking her needle goes,
    As the moist little fingers push it through.
    Such a long stint she has got to do!
    "What is the good," she says with a sigh,
    "Of making more quilts to just lay by?

    "Up in the press lies row on row;
    Who are they for? I should like to know.
    'You'll be glad some day,' says Aunt Pauline,
    'That you made so many.' What can she mean?
    Pretty white spreads, I think, look best;
    And, anyway, little girls want some rest."

    The small brass thimble gleefully rolled
    (Margery likes to play 'tis gold),
    Scissors and spool with a clatter fell;
    Solemn old clock, now don't you tell!
    Over the sill see Margery lean,
    Heedless of patchwork and Aunt Pauline.

    Clover-heads with their horns of honey,
    Daisies with gold and silver money,
    Strings of strawberries yet to be,
    Yellow butterflies, gay and free,
    Sun and wind, and a chance to play,—
    All these scarcely a rod away.

    She knows she could find a fourleafed clover
    Before she had hunted the field half over;
    And, oh ! by the way that sparrow flew,
    She must have a nest there, certain true!
    Only a thin white wall between!—
    When suddenly in walked Aunt Pauline.

    The high-backed chairs grew straighter still,
    The clock began to tick with a will,
    Even the foolish half-moon face
    Checked itself in a broad grimace,
    While a vagrant bee who was buzzing through
    Out of the window quickly flew.

    Guilty Margery, quite aghast,
    Straightens up and sews very fast.
    But all in vain, however she tries,
    To cheat for a moment those keen eyes
    Under their spectacles looking through
    Body and soul—and patchwork, too.

    "What is the matter," she asks, "today?
    You want to go out in the field and play?
    If I were so silly I wouldn't have told—
    A great, big girl nearly twelve years old.
    Let me see your work. Well, I do declare,
    'Twould disgrace a baby, Margery Ware!

    "It must all come out. Here, take this pin;
    Sit beside me, while you begin.
    Remember, you must not leave your seat
    Until it is done all true and neat.
    You'll be thankful yet that you learned to sew,"
    With a glance at Margery's face of woe.

    "When I was a girl," says Aunt Pauline,
    "An idle minute was seldom seen;
    You've no idea of the pains we'd take,
    Our beautiful patchwork squares to make.
    For prints were precious, and thread was high,
    And little enough could our parents buy.

    "You could sew if you only tried;
    What in the world do you see outside?
    Grass wants cutting; the corn looks dry;
    Signs of rain, I think, in the sky.
    Carefully, child, don't hurry so.
    Set your stitches exact and slow."

    Margery swings her restless feet,
    Clover blossoms do smell so sweet;
    Smooth little fing-er-tips grow rough,
    Won't she ever have done enough?
    Well, she must bear it while she's small;
    Grown-up folks needn't sew at all.

  6. Mother's Old Quilt

    by Albina Brockway Letts

    When the days were all sweetness, and the violets blue
    Ran riot o'er hillside, and the world was made new
    By shower and sunshine; and the spring's tender green
    Was in crumpled leaf, grass-blade and emerald turf seen;
    When the birds trilled with rapture and the wild wood-lands rang
    With the musical songs that the feathered tribes sang—
    Came the wild crash of cannon, the loud call to arms,
    The shriek of the bugle and war's dread alarms.

    In a rambling, brown farm-house where the maples and pines
    Touched hands o'er the roof-tree, and the long slanting lines
    Of sunlight, stole through to a low, home-like room,
    Came the war cry and call, like a knell or death doom.
    There two sons cheered a lonely, white-haired father's heart,
    And they and one daughter of his life were a part;
    For the mother had faded away from their sight,
    And with her their joy and the home's dearest light.

    Still, he lived for his children, the truth and the right,
    But his heart was sore stricken that terrible night.
    The eldest son rose when the war tiding's came;
    "My father, I would not go forth for pleasure or fame,
    But my country calls me, you will not bid me stay,
    When my stout arm is ready, my heart strong for the fray.
    You've no need of my service, you will not be bereft;
    You have daughter and home and your "Benjamin" left."

    The father was brave in that soul-trying strait,
    His heart, too, was loyal, his soul strong and great.
    "It shall be as God wills. Go! Shun evil! Be good!
    You're my son and a soldier; be that, understood."
    And he knew as he gazed on the noble old face,
    That his sire would share in his fame or disgrace.
    Then he girded his loins and marched to the fray
    And left a sad house-hold behind him that day.

    * * * *

    One night when the harvest was gold in the field,
    And the garners o'erflowed with their generous yield,
    The youngest son said, with face reverent and grave:
    "My father! one son to your country you gave,
    Freely gave; now," he said, "she calls for one more;
    You would not withhold, or keep strength in store
    That is needed to save the old flag from disgrace—"
    He paused, for the look in the father's pale face
    Awed his heart; with one look he turned slowly away,
    And walked 'neath the pines till the evening was gray.

    But his Benjamin went to the war; and a gloom
    Fell o'er the small household; and each sunny room
    Felt a shadow and chill, and the sister sobbed low
    In her prayers by her bedside; but a faint after-glow
    Of pride in his sons, did the brave sire sustain,
    Which no woman can feel for her heart's bitter pain.

    * * * *

    But the months wore away and the war dragged along,
    Joy went out of the home, and the song
    Struck a minor key ever; while a low note of pain
    Sobbed and wailed evermore 'neath the bugle's sweet strain.

    You all know the story of the long, cruel war,
    How they followed the flag like the wise men the star.
    You know of the carnage, the wounds and the pain,
    The long, weary march and the battles again;
    How the boys, worn and sick, fell out by the way,
    Nor crept into camp 'til the dawn of the day.
    How foot-sore and weary, they still struggled through
    More days of hard marching, brave, loyal and true.

    * * * *

    Poor Benjamin! Son of his sire's old age!
    His name is recorded on history's page
    As one of the faithful; but disease racked his frame,
    And he fell from the ranks without glory or fame,
    Then came long weary days, of longing for night,
    And the long nights of pain and the longing for light;
    The fever-tossed hours, the weakness and chill,
    The sinking of heart and the fainting of will.
    Then a move further north near the borders of home,
    And the hope of a furlough to lighten the gloom;
    Then the long dragging days of hope oft deferred.
    The watching and waiting for promise or word
    Unfulfilled as before; but something to cheer
    The lone heart in its weakness and doubting and fear.

    The furlough at last! He forgot all his pain,
    His weakness and trembling. An out-going train
    Bore him forth from his prison without conduct or aid-
    There were none to be anxious, or care, or afraid.
    Long hours of travel, one night waiting for day,
    When he slept but to dream that his train sped away
    Vnd left him behind, forever to roam
    In a hospital ward, still seeking his home.

    * * * *

    At the old home again! and his sister's fond eyes
    Ever watching his coming, the blue coat espies,
    And fares forth to meet him, but a wan, haggard face
    Looked into her own, where not even a trace
    Of the brother she loved, could her famished eyes see,
    And she shrank from his presence, and turning to flee
    The beloved voice hears, the same tender tone,
    And quick as a thought to his fond arms has flown.

    She guides him, white, trembling, and weak, to the door,
    He crosses the threshold and sinks to the floor.
    In the strong, tender arms of the sister and maid,
    The frail form is lifted, on his mother's bed laid;
    And once more at home, with his sire bending o'er,
    Smiles feebly, and closing his eyes knows no more.
    Wildly sobbing, his sister rains tears on his face,
    Voices call on his name and he drifts back apace;
    He thinks it a dream—he has dreamed thus before—
    And he cares not to wake to his sorrow once more.

    But the life-blood at last, throbs slowly again
    And he takes up his burden of sickness and pain,
    But the wan, wintry light on his thin, ghastly face,
    Makes more haggard his features, leaving scarcely a trace
    Of the strong robust man, the soldier, the son,
    And they think in their hearts that his race is just run.

    He clutches the bed-clothes; he opens his eyes;
    He gazes around with a wistful surprise,
    While the maid, arms akimbo and tears falling fast,
    Whispers: "He's comin' to, but I'm sure he can't last—
    See! He's pickin' the kivers! a mighty bad sign;
    He don't hear or sense nothin'; see how his eyes shine!"

    "Can it be? Can it be?"—his voice faint and weak—
    First his hands, then loved faces, his eyes dimly seek;
    "Can it be?" wailed his sister in her anguish and pain,
    "We have found the dear boy but to lose him again?"
    "Be silent, my daughter, we may, who can tell,
    Have a look or a message or word of farewell."
    "Can it be?" and the trembling hands hold aloft
    The old-fashioned coverlet, old, worn and soft,
    Of grandmother's weaving, a sacred heirloom,
    The last work of her hands e'er she went to the tomb.
    A gift to his mother, treasured many long years,
    With fond, tender care, oft bedewed with her tears,
    Still carefully cherished in memory of both;
    And the reverent love had grown with his growth,
    'Til it stood for the love of the ages gone by,
    The past and the present, his fond eyes descry.
    "Can it be?"—His voice soars aloft like the lark's morning lilt,
    "Can it be I'm back home, under mother's old quilt?"

    Soft laughter and tears in the sweet, homelike room
    And camphor, hot broth, egg-nog, and each one
    Vies with each other to serve, and the fright
    Faded out into joy, lie the morning from night.
    Smile not at our soldier, to his manhood no shame;
    No blot on his courage, escutcheon, or fame,
    That when stricken in body he was cast down in soul,
    And his heart sought his home as the needle the pole.

    All honor to our soldiers! Give them glory and fame,
    Who fought for their flag and their country's good name;
    They were loyal and brave; they fought to the hilt,
    But were glad to get back under Mother's Old Quilt.

  7. The Quilting

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    Dolly sits a–quilting by her mother, stitch by stitch,
    Gracious, how my pulses throb, how my fingers itch,
    While I note her dainty waist and her slender hand,
    As she matches this and that, she stitches strand by strand.
    And I long to tell her Life’s a quilt and I’m a patch;
    Love will do the stitching if she’ll only be my match.

  8. Prudence True's Crazy

    by Sam Walter Foss

    In seventeen hundred seventy-two
    Did the good matron, Prudence True,
    A saintly soul devoid of guilt,
    Begin her famous crazy quilt.
    And told her helpmeet, Goodman True,
    She'd finih in a month or two;
    And Goodman True, as good men do,
    Believed his good wife, Prudence True.

    And when he found his supper late,
    Brave Goodman True in silence sate,
    And waited till his good wife built
    Another square of crazy quilt.
    He did not rave or loudly speak,—
    Much married life had made him meek,—
    Forhe had learned from his sweet bride
    A husband's part is to subside,
    To sit serene, composed, and dumb,
    And in domestic peace succumb.
    He on the martyr plan was built
    And lived a martyr to that quilt.

    Good Prudence True, as good dames do,
    Each day her loved task would pursue;
    Each evening her brave husband tried
    To look content and edified,
    And those slow, patient hours beguile
    With his sad, long-enduring smile.
    Long years did that poor, sad soul wilt,
    Then die at last—of crazy quilt.

    Long years passed on, and Widow True
    Toiled on, as all good widows do,
    And in her calm seclusion curled
    Heard not the noises of the world.
    The echoes of the Concord fight,
    The battle fought on Bunker's height,
    The cannonade from Yorktown blown,
    That scared King George upon his throne,
    She heeded as a trivial thing;
    For what are conqueror or king
    To a good dame whose life is built
    Into her darling crazy quilt?

    She never thought if she preferred
    George Washington to George the Third;
    Her quilt was life's supremest thing,
    Both under president and king;
    While loyal to her quilt and true,
    She thought that either George would do.
    Gray, full of years, the good soul died,
    And passed on to the Glorified,
    And left this scene of woe and guilt
    And her unfinished crazy quilt.

    And then her youngest daughter, Ruth,
    In all the hopefulness of youth,
    That knows no obstacle or fears,
    Took up the mighty task of years.
    Her smile was sweet, her eyes were bright,
    Her touch was fairy-like and light;
    And lovers read within her eyes
    The tale of h appy destinies.
    And many came and knelt and sued;
    But on the quilt her eyes were glued.
    She saw them not as there they knelt,
    Love's hurtling dart she never felt,
    But gave them all to understand
    She had a m ission great and grand,
    A noble and exalted aim
    Beyond preposterous Cupid's claim;
    A great ambition, grand and high,
    To finish up that quilt and die.

    And brave Ruth kept her purpose good
    Through fourscore years of maidenhood;
    And so she lived and died a maid,
    And when she in the grave was laid,
    Her sister's youngest daughter, Sue,
    Took her unfinished quilt to do.

    Meantime old empires passed away,
    Old kingdoms fell in slow decay,
    And senile monarchs, weary grown,
    Slipped down from many a tottering throne;
    Old realms were conquered by their foes,
    Old kingdom's fell, new nations rose;
    And long engendered wars that rent
    The bases of a continent
    Swept on their path of fire and death,
    And shrivelled with their fatal breath
    The slow-built fabric of the years,
    And left a track of blood and tears.
    But while the whirling world did range
    Adown "the ringing grooves of change,"
    While Time's resistless current flowed,
    Young Sue she sewed and sewed and sewed
    And sewed and sewed, and slowly built
    The squares upon that crazy quilt.

    And now she's old and bent and gray,
    Her youthful friends have passed away,
    Her loving husband's tomb is built—
    Butstill she works upon her quilt.
    And now, deserted and forlorn,
    To generations yet unborn,
    When she has left this world of guilt,
    She'll pass along her crazy quilt.

    In six short day the world was done,
    The world, the planets, and the sun;
    But in a hundred years are built
    A fraction of a crazy quilt.

  9. The Crazy Quilt

    by Anonymous

    Oh, say, can you see by the dawn’s early light,
    What you failed to perceive at the twilight’s last gleaming;
    A crazy concern that through the long night
    O’er the bed where you slept was so saucily streaming;
    The silk patches so fair,
    Round, three-cornered and square
    Gives proof that the lunatic bed-quilt is there.
    Oh, the crazy-quilt mania triumphantly raves,
    And maid, wife, and widow are bound as its slaves.

    On that quilt dimly seen as you rouse from your sleep
    Your long-missing necktie in silence reposes,
    And the filoselle insects that over it creep,
    A piece of your vest half-conceals, half discloses;
    There is Kensington-stitch
    In designs that are rich,
    Snow-flake, arrasene, point russe and all sich.
    Oh, the crazy-quilt mania, how long will it rave?
    And how long will fair woman be held its slave?

    And where is the wife who so vauntingly swore
    That nothing on earth her affections could smother?
    She crept from your side at the chiming of four
    And is down in the parlor at work on another.
    Your breakfasts are spoiled,
    And your dinners half-boiled,
    And your efforts to get a square supper are foiled
    By the crazy-quilt mania that fiendishly raves,
    And to which all the women are absolute slaves.

    And thus it has been since the panic began,
    In many loved homes it has wrought desolation,
    And cursed is the power by many a man,
    That has brought him so close to the verge of starvation,
    But make it she must,
    She will do it or bust,
    Beg, swap, and buy pieces or get them on trust.
    Oh, the crazy-quilt mania, may it soon cease to rave
    In the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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