Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hymns by Firelight

Family Life on the Frontier by Caleb Bingham, c. 1845

Hymns by Firelight

Now the sweet cloudy voices rise and fall,
Blurring the soft damp air with melody,
And one sits shadowy with the white shawl
Drawn to her throat and folded over her knee,
Repeating gently the cadence of the hymn,
And the thick ash mantles the dim coals
And the dew gathers on smooth leaf and stem.

Where they are sitting the firelight gleams
On their familiar faces, touching with charm
Or fantasy all the lines and seams
That the mind may have made, but the heart dreams,
Comforted, cradled, and warm,
In these old words, cradle of many souls,
And the white ash gathers, heavy upon the coals.

Janet Lewis

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