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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

Darby and Joan

By St. John Honeywood (1763–1798)

[Born in Leicester, Mass. Died at Salem, Washington Co., N. Y., 1798. Poems. 1801.]

WHEN Darby saw the setting sun,

He swung his scythe, and home he run,

Sat down, drank off his quart, and said,

“My work is done, I’ll go to bed.”

“My work is done!” retorted Joan,

“My work is done! your constant tone;

But hapless woman ne’er can say,

‘My work is done,’ till judgment day.

You men can sleep all night, but we

Must toil.”—“Whose fault is that?” quoth

“I know your meaning,” Joan replied,

“But, Sir, my tongue shall not be tied;

I will go on, and let you know

What work poor women have to do:

First, in the morning, though we feel

As sick as drunkards when they reel;

Yes, feel such pains in back and head

As would confine you men to bed,

We ply the brush, we wield the broom,

We air the beds, and right the room;

The cows must next be milked—and then

We get the breakfast for the men.

Ere this is done, with whimpering cries,

And bristly hair, the children rise;

These must be dressed, and dosed with rue,

And fed—and all because of you:

We next”—Here Darby scratched his head,

And stole off grumbling to his bed;

And only said, as on she run,

“Zounds! woman’s clack is never done.”

At early dawn, ere Phœbus rose,

Old Joan resumed her tale of woes;

When Darby thus—“I’ll end the strife,

Be you the man and I the wife:

Take you the scythe and mow, while I

Will all your boasted cares supply.”

“Content,” quoth Joan, “give me my stint.”

This Darby did, and out she went.

Old Darby rose and seized the broom,

And whirled the dirt about the room:

Which having done, he scarce knew how,

He hied to milk the brindled cow.

The brindled cow whisked round her tail

In Darby’s eyes, and kicked the pail.

The clown, perplexed with grief and pain,

Swore he’d ne’er try to milk again:

When turning round, in sad amaze,

He saw his cottage in a blaze:

For as he chanced to brush the room,

In careless haste, he fired the broom.

The fire at last subdued, he swore

The broom and he would meet no more.

Pressed by misfortune, and perplexed,

Darby prepared for breakfast next;

But what to get he scarcely knew—

The bread was spent, the butter too.

His hands bedaubed with paste and flour,

Old Darby labored full an hour:

But, luckless wight! thou couldst not make

The bread take form of loaf or cake.

As every door wide open stood,

In pushed the sow in quest of food;

And, stumbling onwards, with her snout

O’erset the churn—the cream ran out.

As Darby turned, the sow to beat,

The slippery cream betrayed his feet;

He caught the bread trough in his fall,

And down came Darby, trough, and all.

The children, wakened by the clatter,

Start up, and cry, “Oh! what’s the matter?”

Old Jowler barked, and Tabby mewed,

And hapless Darby bawled aloud,

“Return, my Joan, as heretofore,

I’ll play the housewife’s part no more:

Since now, by sad experience taught,

Compared to thine my work is naught;

Henceforth, as business calls, I’ll take,

Content, the plough, the scythe, the rake,

And never more transgress the line

Our fates have marked, while thou art mine.

Then Joan, return, as heretofore,

I’ll vex thy honest soul no more;

Let’s each our proper task attend—

Forgive the past, and strive to mend.”