Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The Symphony of Supper-Time
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings as a young woman in college, where she met her husband Charles. They married in 1919.
In the latter half of the 1920s, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings published weekly poems in the Rochester Times-Union in upper-state New York, where she lived with her husband. Many of the poems were published in a book edited by Rodger L. Tarr entitled Songs of a Housewife. In motivating her column of a poem a day chronicling the life of a housewife, Rawlings told her editor in an interview published June 8, 1926:
"I was brought up to believe in the modern myth that housekeeping is only drudgery, and the housewife is a downtrodden martyr. I thought that any seemingly contented housewives were only 'making the best of it.' When I first began housekeeping in my own home, I felt that I had entered the ranks of the mistreated.
"After a time I began to realize, to my amazement, that I didn't feel at all downtrodden, and that I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I began to look at other domestic 'martyrs' from a new angle, and I have learned many things.
"I have found that there is romance in housework: and charm in it; and whimsy and humor without end. I have found that the housewife works hard, of course--but likes it. Most people who amount to anything do work hard, at whatever their job happens to be. The housewife's job is home-making, and she is, in fact, 'making the best of it'; making the best of it by bringing patience and loving care to her work; sympathy and understanding to her family; making the best of it by seeing all the fun in the day's incidents and human relationships.
The housewife realizes that home-making is an investment in happiness. It pays everyone enormous dividends. There are huge compensations for the actual labor involved. It will always be so: as long as human beings living together and eat and sleep and wear clothes. Even if community kitchens develop, and community nurseries, women will get a fundamental satisfaction out of making men comfortable and well-fed, and children 'well brought up'....
"There are verses in almost everything that fills a housewife's day....
"There are unhappy housewives, of course. But there are unhappy stenographers and editresses and concert singers. The housewife whose songs I sing as I go about my work, is the one who likes her job."
So for fun, from time to time, I will post a poem from Song of a Housewife, and here is the first:
The Symphony of Supper-Time
I like the sound of silver
When the table’s being set,
In the early Winter twilight,
With the lamps unlighted yet.
I like to hear the kitchen door
Swing slowly out, and then,
When Mary passes, laden, through,
Swing slowly back again.
I like to hear the kettle sing;
The hissing of the roast;
The children coming in from play,
A hungry, noisy host.
I like to hear the murmurings
When my dessert appears.
The symphony of supper-time
Is music to my ears!