Thursday, January 18, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Off to Play

This week I have been busy gathering bits and pieces for my classes at the national quilt symposium. Tomorrow I'm off for five days of colour and cloth. I haven't followed this week's prompt at Poetry Thursday, though I have noted down some of the phrases offered and may play with them at a later date.

My father is from a longish line of youngest sons, who had to make their own way in the world (as all the best fairy stories tell us). However the eldest sons farmed the same land in Scotland from the 1600s to the mid 1900s. The various branches of the family were in touch until around the second world war or a little later. In the course of my research into the family history, I came across a book of poems called "Duty and Ease". This was published in 1926 on the death of Jessie Miller, whose poems it contains. A few by her sister Mary H Miller are also included. They were two spinster sisters who were born on the family farm near Stirling. The poems reflect the time in which they were written and many of the sentiments are old-fashioned now. Those written during World War I are of course, fiercely patriotic. Some of the poems are also quite charming.

The poem I'm posting here must have been addressed to a soldier, since it refers to "service weapons". However I chose it as my poem this week as it refers to the value of leisure. I'm not sure my week away is quite "indolence" as described in the poem, since I will be taking classes and working quite hard. But I'm sure it will be hard work of a very pleasurable kind and I hope to return next week with "renewed energy"


Go have some indolence and blissful ease,
Some precious minutes doing what you please,
Go hang your coat of duty on the wall
And lay thy service weapons in the hall.

And let thy laughter ring out strong and clear,
Without the semblance of a doubt or fear,
And make thy heart right merry for a while,
When resting thus upon the wayside stile.

'Twill smooth the folds and furrows from thy brow,
And bring back dimples to thy cheek, I trow,
'Twill make thy faded eyeballs dance and glow
And life-like wine through all thy being flow.

Go stem for once thy serious stream of thought,
And catch the humour with which life is fraught,
Stern duty plods along the toilsome road,
While humour floats above without a load.

Go wag your head, and unto duty say
I will not work to-day but I will play,
I'll meet you on the road to-morrow morn
With energy renewed and fresh hope born.

- Jessie Miller


Anonymous said...

Lovely poem from a different perspective. I'm glad you posted anyway, have a blast at the quilting classes. Come back with lots of pictures.

Rethabile said...


Kay Cooke said...

HAve fun!

Twill make thy faded eyeballs dance and glow ... hope the quilting symposium does the same for you!!

Anonymous said...

Loved the last stanza, and that you posted anyway. Have great fun this week!

Unknown said...

Nice poem - and have fun foraging for fabrics and suchforth!

Deb R said...

I'd never run across this poem before and I like it!

Hope you have fun at the symposium!

Anonymous said...

Such a lovely poem. Looking forward to hearing about your symposium.