Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Courtin’

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

The Courtin’

By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

[From The Biglow Papers. Second Series. 1866.]

GOD makes sech nights, all white an’ still

Fur’z you can look or listen,

Moonshine an’ snow on field an’ hill,

All silence an’ all glisten.

Zekle crep’ up quite unbeknown

An’ peeked in thru the winder,

An’ there sot Huldy all alone,

’ith no one nigh to hender.

A fireplace filled the room’s one side

With half a cord o’ wood in—

There warn’t no stoves (tell comfort died)

To bake ye to a puddin’.

The wa’nut logs shot sparkles out

Towards the pootiest, bless her,

An’ leetle flames danced all about

The chiny on the dresser.

Agin the chimbley crook-necks hung,

An’ in amongst ’em rusted

The ole queen’s-arm thet gran’ther Young

Fetched back from Concord busted.

The very room, coz she was in,

Seemed warm from floor to ceilin’,

An’ she looked full ez rosy agin

Ez the apples she was peelin’.

’Twas kin’ o’ kingdom-come to look

On sech a blessed cretur;

A dogrose blushin’ to a brook

Ain’t modester nor sweeter.

He was six foot o’ man, A 1,

Clear grit an’ human natur’;

None couldn’t quicker pitch a ton

Nor dror a furrer straighter.

He’d sparked it with full twenty gals,

He’d squired ’em, danced ’em, druv ’em,

Fust this one, an’ then thet, by spells—

All is, he couldn’t love ’em.

But long o’ her his veins ’ould run

All crinkly like curled maple,—

The side she breshed felt full o’ sun

Ez a south slope in Ap’il.

She thought no v’ice hed sech a swing

Ez hisn in the choir;

My! when he made Ole Hunderd ring,

She knowed the Lord was nigher.

An’ she’d blush scarlit, right in prayer,

When her new meetin’-bunnet

Felt somehow thru its crown a pair

O’ blue eyes sot upon it.

Thet night, I tell ye, she looked some!

She seemed to ’ve gut a new soul,

For she felt sartin-sure he’d come,

Down to her very shoe-sole.

She heered a foot, an’ knowed it tu,

A-raspin’ on the scraper,—

All ways to once her feelins flew

Like sparks in burnt-up paper.

He kin’ o’ l’itered on the mat,

Some doubtfle o’ the sekle;

His heart kep’ goin’ pity-pat,

But hern went pity Zekle.

An’ yit she gin her cheer a jerk

Ez though she wished him furder,

An’ on her apples kep’ to work,

Parin’ away like murder.

“You want to see my Pa, I s’pose?”

“Wal …. no …. I come dasignin’”—

“To see my Ma? She’s sprinklin’ clo’es

Agin to-morrer’s i’nin’.”

To say why gals acts so or so,

Or don’t, ’ould he presumin’;

Mebby to mean yes an’ say no

Comes nateral to women.

He stood a spell on one foot fust,

Then stood a spell on t’other,

An’ on which one he felt the wust

He couldn’t ha’ told ye nuther.

Says he, “I’d better call agin”;

Says she, “Think likely, Mister”;

Thet last word pricked him like a pin,

An’ …. Wal, he up an’ kist her.

When Ma bimeby upon ’em slips,

Huldy sot pale ez ashes,

All kin’ o’ smily roun’ the lips

An’ teary roun’ the lashes.

For she was jes’ the quiet kind

Whose naturs never vary,

Like streams that keep a summer mind

Snowhid in Jenooary.

The blood clost roun’ her heart felt glued

Too tight for all expressin’,

Tell mother see how metters stood,

An’ gin ’em both her blessin’.

Then her red come back like the tide

Down to the Bay o’ Fundy,

An’ all I know is they was cried

In meetin’ come nex’ Sunday.