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!


Anonymous said...

I really like this post (and the last one on the paintings and the possibility of awakening to Christ, who is the Light and Lifegiver).

From your post -

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."

And this was back in the 1920's... It made me wonder just when such contempt for homelife started, but I can guess. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater.


Mrs. Rabe said...

Thank you for this beautiful post! I hope it is ok to link to you from my blog - I would like to share it with my friends.

I will be checking in to read more!

Barbara H. said...

Here via Home Living, I love this! I want to get this book. Thank you!

DarcyLee said...

I, too would like to link your post to my blog. I think we homemakers need a word of encouragement and this sure fits the bill. Thanks again.

Linda said...

Thanks for linking to the post. I appreciate it. I have some more posts that I hope will be encouraging. Thanks everyone for stopping by!

Christie said...

How beautiful! Where would I find this interview?

Linda said...

Hi Christie,
Thank you for your comment. The interview is in the book, which you can get by clicking on the link to Songs of a Housewife in the post. However, I got my copy from my local library, so you may want to look there first.
All the best,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this lovely post. I am now leaving my office, to return to my kitchen--my favorite place--and my family--my favorite people. Your blog is a high point of my day, and I always save it as a special treat.