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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Dan’s Wife

By Kate Tannatt Woods (1838–1910)

[Born in Peeksville, N. Y., 1838. Died in Buffalo, N. Y., 1910.]

UP in early morning light,

Sweeping, dusting, “setting right,”

Oiling all the household springs,

Sewing buttons, tying strings,

Telling Bridget what to do,

Mending rips in Johnny’s shoe,

Running up and down the stair,

Tying baby in his chair,

Cutting meat and spreading bread,

Dishing out so much per head,

Eating as she can, by chance,

Giving husband kindly glance;

Toiling, working, busy life,—

“Smart woman,

Dan’s wife.”

Dan comes home at fall of night,

Home so cheerful, neat and bright;

Children meet him at the door,

Pull him in and look him o’er;

Wife asks “how the work has gone?”

“Busy times with us at home!”

Supper done—Dan reads at ease;

Happy Dan, but one to please!

Children must be put to bed—

All their little prayers are said;

Little shoes are placed in rows,

Bed-clothes tucked o’er little toes;

Busy, noisy, wearing life,—

Tired woman,

Dan’s wife.

Dan reads on, and falls asleep,—

See the woman softly creep;

Baby rests at last, poor dear,

Not a word her heart to cheer;

Mending-basket full to top,

Stockings, shirts, and little frock;

Tired eyes and weary brain,

Side with darting, ugly pain—

“Never mind, ’twill pass away”;

She must work, but never play;

Closed piano, unused books,

Done the walks to cosey nooks,

Brightness faded out of life,—

Saddened woman,

Dan’s wife.

Up-stairs, tossing to and fro,

Fever holds the woman low;

Children wander, free to play,

When and where they will to-day;

Bridget loiters—dinner’s cold,

Dan looks anxious, cross and old;

Household screws are out of place,

Lacking one dear, patient face;

Steady hands—so weak, but true—

Hands that knew just what to do,

Never knowing rest or play,

Folded now—and laid away;

Work of six, in one short life,—

Shattered woman,

Dan’s wife.

The Salem Observer. 1872.