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The Crazy Quilt

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NH POETRY

Trouble finishing that project? No problem. Just pass it on to your next of kin. At least, that’s what Prudence True did when she could not quite finish her quilt back in 1772. Sam Walter Foss does it again with another humorous look at Yankee life

 

 

 

 


Prudent True’s Crazy Quilt
By Sam Walter Foss

All about SAM WALTER FOSS

In seventeen hundred seventy-two
Did the good matron, Prudence True,
A saintly soul devoid of guilt,
Begin her famous crazy quilt,
And told her helpmeet, Goodman True,
She’d finish in a month or two;
And Goodman True, as good men do,
Believed his good wife, Prudence True.

And when he found his supper late,
Brave Goodman True in silence sate,
And waited till his good wife built
Another square of crazy quilt.
He did not rave or loudly speak, -
Much married life had made him meek, -
For he had learned from his sweet bride
A husband’s part is to subside,
To sit serene, composed, and dumb,
And in domestic peace succumb.
He on the martyr plan was built,
And lived a martyr to that quilt.

Good Prudence True, as good dames do,
Each day her loved task would pursue;
Each evening her brave husband tried
To look content and edified
And those slow, patient hours beguile
With his sad, long-enduring smile.
Long years did that poor, sad soul wilt,
Then die at last – of crazy quilt.

Long years passed on, and Widow True
Toiled on, as all good widows do,
And in her calm seclusion curled
Heard not the noises of the world.
The echoes of the Concord fight,
The battle fought on Bunker’s height,
The cannonade from Yorktown blown,
That scared King George upon his throne,
She heeded as a trivial thing;
For what are conqueror or king
To a good dame whose life is built
Into her darling crazy quilt?

She never thought if she preferred
George Washington to George the Third;
Her quilt was life’s supremest thing,
Both under president and king;
While loyal to her quilt and true,
She thought that either George would do.

Gray, full of years, the good soul died,
And passed on to the Glorified,
And left this scene of woe and guilt
And her unfinished crazy quilt.

And then her youngest daughter, Ruth,
In all the hopefulness of youth,
That knows no obstacle or fears,
Took up the mighty task of years.
Her smile was sweet, her eyes were bright,
Her touch was fairy-like and light;
And lovers read within her eyes
The tale of happy destinies.
And many came and knelt and sued;
but on the quilt her eyes were glued.
She saw them not as there whey knelt,
Love’s hurtling dart she never felt,
But gave them all to understand

She had a mission great and grand,
A noble and exalted aim
Beyond preposterous Cupid’s claim;
A great ambition, grand and high,
To finish up that quilt and die.

And brave Ruth kept her purpose good
Through fourscore years of maidenhood;
And so she lived and died a maid,
And when she died in the grave was laid,
Her sister’s youngest daughter, Sue,
Took her unfinished quilt to do.

Meantime old empires passed away,
Old kingdoms fell in slow decay,
And senile monarchs, weary grown,
Slipped down from many a tottering throne;
Old realms were conquered by their foes,
Old kingdoms fell, new nations rose;
And long engendered wars that rent
The bases of a continent
Swept on their path of fire and death,
And shriveled with their fatal breath
The slow-built fabric of the years,
And left a track of blood and tears.

But while the whirling world did range
Adown "the ringing grooves of change,"
While Time’s resistless current flowed,
Young Sue she sewed and sewed and sewed
And sewed and sewed, and slowly built
The squares upon that crazy quilt.

And now she’s old and bent and gray,
Her youthful friends have passed away,
Her loving husband’s tomb is built –
But still she works upon her quilt.
And now, deserted and forlorn,
To generations yet unborn,
When she has left this world of guilt,
She’ll pass along her crazy quilt.

In six short days the world was done,
The world, the planets, and the sun;
But in a hundred years are built
A fraction of a crazy quilt.

By Sam Walter Foss
From BACK COUNTRY POOEMS, 1892

Many thanks to typists Vincent & Heather Rojo, Allen & Carol Hawthorne and Jan Blomeke.

CRAZY QUILT Illustration courtesy of the Georgia Quilt Council, Inc

 

 

 

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