Here where the curfew Still, they say, rings, Time rested long ago, Folding his wings; Here, on old Norwich's Out-along road, Cousin Lucretia Had her abode. Norridge, not Nor-wich (See Mother Goose), Good enough English For a song's use. Side and roof shingled, All of a piece, Here was the cottage Of Cousin Lucrece. Living forlornly On nothing a year, How she took comfort Does not appear; How kept her body, On what they gave, Out of the poor-house, Out of the grave. Highly connected? Straight as the Nile Down from "the Gard'ners" Of Gardiner's Isle; (Three bugles, chevron gules, Hand upon sword), Great-great-granddaughter Of the third lord. Bent almost double, Deaf as a witch, Gout her chief trouble— Just as if rich; Vain of her ancestry, Mouth all agrin, Nose half-way meeting her Sky-pointed chin. Ducking her forehead-top, Wrinkled and bare, With a colonial Furbelowed air Greeting her next of kin, Nephew or niece,— Foolish old, prating old Cousin Lucrece. Once every year she had All she could eat: Turkey and cranberries, Pudding and sweet; Every Thanksgiving, Up to the great House of her kinsman, was Driven in state. Oh, what a sight to see, Rigged in her best! Wearing the famous gown Drawn from her chest,— Worn, ere King George's reign Here chanced to cease, Once by a forbear Of Cousin Lucrece. Damask brocaded, Cut very low; Short sleeves and finger-mitts Fit for a show; Palsied neck shaking her Rust-yellow curls, Rattling its roundabout String of mock pearls; Over her noddle, Draggled and stark, Two ostrich feathers— Brought from the ark. Shoes of frayed satin, All heel and toe, On her poor crippled feet Hobbled below. My! how the Justice's Sons and their wives Laughed; while the little folk Ran for their lives, Asking if beldames Out of the past, Old fairy godmothers, Always could last? No! One Thanksgiving, Bitterly cold, After they took her home (Ever so old), In her great chair she sank, There to find peace; Died in her ancient dress— Poor old Lucrece.
Edmund Clarence Stedman’s other poems:
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