Dorri's Spinning by Margaret J. Preston

(An Old Time Ballad.)


SHE sat in the upper chamber

—'Twas a summer of Long Ago—

And looked through the gable window

At the river that ran below,

And over the quiet pastures,

And up at the wide blue sky,

And envied the jay his freedom

As he lazily flitted by.

Yet patiently at her spinning,

In a halo of happy light,

Se wrought, though a shimmer rippled

The heads of the wheat in sight—

Though the garden was spilling over

Its cups on the fragrant air,

And the hollyhocks at the doorway

Had never looked half so fair.

She saw, as her wheel kept whirling,

The leisure of Nature too—

The beautiful holiday weather

Left nothing for her to do:

The cattle were idly grazing,

And even the frisky sheep,

Away in the distant meadows,

Lay under the shade asleep.

So sitting, she heard sweet laughter,

And a bevy of maidens fair,

With babble of merry voices,

Came climbing the chamber stair;

"O Dorns! how can you bear it,

To drone at your spinning here?

Why, girl! it's the heart of summer,

The goldenest time of year.

"Put out of your hand the distaff,

This wearisome whirl relax—

There are things that are gayer, Dorris,

Than sitting and spinning flax:

Come with us away to the forest;

When it rains is the time to ply

Such tiresome tasks—and to-day is

The fifteenth day of July!"

With a face that was softly saddened,

Sweet Dorris looked up and said,

As she ravelled a bit of tangle,

And twisted again her thread,

"Nay, nay, I must do my spinning;

It wouldn't be kind or right

That the loom should be kept a-waiting;

My hanks must be done to-night.

So the frolicsome maidens left her,

With something of mild surprise

That Dorris should choose a duty,

With pleasure before her eyes;

Not dreaming that when her mother

Her "dozens" should count up-stairs,

And kiss her and say, "My darling!"

Her day would be glad as theirs.

So she minded her wheel, and blithely

She sang as she twirled it round,

And cunningly from her fingers

The delicate fibre wound;

And on through the sunny hours,

That neither were sad nor long,

She toiled in her sweet obedience,

And lightened her toil with song.

"Aye, surely, the day is lovely!

It tugs at my very heart

To look at its drifting beauty,

Nor share in its joy my part r

I may not go forth to meet it,

But the summer is kind, you see,

And I think, as I sit at my spinning—

I think it will come to me!"

(She sings.)

"Come hither, happy birds,

With warbling woo me,

Till songs that have no words

Melt through and through me!

Come, bees, that drop and rise

Within the clover,

Where yellow butterflies

Go glancing over!

Oh, roses, red and white,

And lilies, shining

Like gilded goblets bright

With silver lining—

Each to my window send

Gifts worth the winning,

To cheer me as I bend

Above my spinning!

"Oh, ripples on the sand,

That break in beauty,

Oh, pines, that stiffly stand

Like guards on duty,

Green meadows, where, this morn,

The scythes were mowing,

Soft slopes, where, o'er the corn

The wind is blowing,

"White clouds above the hill

That sail together,

Rich summer scents that fill

This summer weather—

All bring the sweets you've found

Since morn's beginning,

And come and crowd them round

My day of spinning!"