An old-time kitchen, an open door,
Sunshine lying across the floor;
A little maid, feet bare and brown,
Cheeks like roses, a cotton gown,
Rippling masses of shining hair,
And a childish forehead smooth and fair.
The child is knitting. The open door
Wooes her, tempts her, more and more.
The sky is cloudless, the air is sweet
And sadly restless the bare brown feet.
Still, as she wishes her task were done,
She counts the rounds off, one by one.
Higher yet mounts the sun of June;
But one round more!—a joyous tune
Ripples out from the childish lips,
While swift and swifter the finger-tips
Play out and in, till I hear her say,
"Twenty rounds! I'm going to play!"
Up to the hedge where the sweet-brier blows,
Down to the bank where the brooklet flows,
Chasing the butterflies, watching the bees,
Wading in clover up to her knees,
Mocking the bobolinks; oh, what fun
It is to be free when the task is done!
Years and years have glided away.
The child is a woman, and threads of gray
One by one creep into her hair,
And I see the prints of the feet of care.
Yet I like to watch har. To-night she sits
By her household fire, and as then she knits.
Swiftly the needles glance, and the thread
Glides through her fingers, white and red.
'Tis a baby's stocking. To and fro
And out and in as the needles go,
She sings as she sang that day in June,
But the low, soft strain is a nursery tune.
Closely beside her the baby lies,
Slowly closing his sleepy eyes.
Forward, backward, the cradle swings,
Touched by her foot as she softly sings.
And now in silence har watch she keeps;
The song is hushed, for the baby sleeps.
Up from the green, through the twilight gray,
Comes the shouts of a troop at play.
Blue eyes, black eyes, golden curls—
These are all hers—her boys and girls.
Then wonder not at the prints of care,
Or the silver threads in her braided hair.
Does she ever pine for the meadow brook,
The sweet-brier hedge, the clover nook?
When sweet winds woo, when smiles the sun,
Does she ever wish that her task was done?
Would you know? Than watch her where she sits
Smiling dreamily, while she knits.