Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
The Courtin’
By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)
 
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        5
  An’ peeked in thru’ the winder,
An’ there sot Huldy all alone,
  ’ith no one nigh to hender.
 
A fireplace fill’d the room’s one side
  With half a cord o’ wood in—        10
There warn’t no stoves (till 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        15
  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.        20
 
The very room, coz she was in,
  Seemed warm from floor to ceilin’,
An’ she look’d full ez rosy agin
  Ez the apples she was peelin’.
 
’T was kin’ o’ kingdom-come to look        25
  On sech a blessèd 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’;        30
None could n’t quicker pitch a ton
  Nor dror a furrer straighter.
 
He ’d spark’d it with full twenty gals,
  Hed squired ’em, danced ’em, druv ’em,
Fust this one, an’ then thet, by spells—        35
  All is, he could n’t love ’em.
 
But long o’ her his veins ’ould run
  All crinkly like curl’d maple,
The side she bresh’d felt full o’ sun
  Ez a south slope in Ap’il.        40
 
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,        45
  When her new meetin’-bunnet
Felt somehow thru’ its crown a pair
  O’ blue eyes sot upun it.
 
Thet night, I tell ye, she looked some!
  She seemed to ’ve gut a new soul,        50
For she felt sartin-sure he’d come,
  Down to her very shoe-sole.
 
She heer’d a foot, an’ know’d it tu,
  A-raspin’ on the scraper,—
All ways to once her feelins flew        55
  Like sparks in burnt-up paper.
 
He kin’ o’ l’iter’d on the mat,
  Some doubtfle o’ the sekle,
His heart kep’ goin’ pity-pat,
  But hern went pity Zekle.        60
 
An’ yit she gin her cheer a jerk
  Ez though she wish’d him furder,
An’ on her apples kep’ to work,
  Parin’ away like murder.
 
‘You want to see my Pa, I s’pose?’        65
  ‘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 be presumin’;        70
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        75
  He could n’t ha’ told ye nuther.
 
Says he, ‘I ’d better call agin’;
  Says she, ‘Think likely, Mister’;
Thet last word prick’d him like a pin.
  An’ … Wal, he up an’ kist her.        80
 
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        85
  Whose naturs never vary,
Like streams that keep a summer mind
  Snow-hid in Jenooary.
 
The blood clost roun’ her heart felt glued
  Too tight for all expressin’,        90
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        95
  In meetin’ come nex’ Sunday.
 
 
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