The Poetry of Elsie Strawn Armstrong
"SKETCHES OF MY LIFE"
Pages 107-112

Transcribed and Donated by Leslie Howard Strawn


CHAPTER TWENTY-THIRD

Such trouble for our seed corn

That spring, when we came here,

We thought we’d save our seed

While in the roasting ear.

They pulled it in the husk

While it was in the milk,

The husk was very green,

But dry and black, the silk.

They brought it in the house

And left the husk on whole,

Except a little mite,

They tied across a pole.

And thus we saved our seed,

And we found it all did grow,

That’s all that we got planted

Before we had to go.

We bought a field of corn,

Likewise a stack of hay,

East side of Covel’s creek,

Perhaps five miles away.

Then where we had to move,

We bought a stack of wheat,

And then we calculated it

Would make our bread to eat.

But he wheat proved to be sick,

And we found it was not good,

And we were disappointed,

For it would not do for food.

The boys went south for corn,

In the cold month of December,

And they brought us home two loads,

Just how much, I don’t remember.

My children did agree, if

We could not raise corn here,

That we would move off southward,

After we had tried two years.

The corn was badly shriveled,

And looked so pale and dead,

But it was better, some, than bran,

For nourishment and bread.

In the spring of thirty-two,

When the Indian war was here,

Although so badly frost bitten,

The corn was very dear.

Eighty-seven cents a bushel

For that poor corn we give,

That fall our corn got sound

And we concluded there to live.

For then we felt encouraged

When we had some corn, ‘twas sound,

Because two years before,

No good corn could be found.

When my children went for corn

The snow was very deep.

And I was uneasy about them,

I could not sleep.

Within the last thirty years

The winters have grown milder,

But over thirty years ago

The frost and snow were wilder.

In the year of twenty-nine,

The first winter John was here,

The weather very cold,

The winter was severe.

He had an errand to the neighbors,

Perhaps two miles or more,

The frost was most terrific,

And had been some time before.

The air was sharp and keen,

And seemed to take his breath,

And if he got on horseback

He thought he’d freeze to death.

He concluded he would walk,

“Twould be safest and the best,

But before that he got there,

The wind from the northwest.

So nearly paralyzed him

To such a degree,

So chilled and so benumbed, him,

He could scarcely hear nor see.

He seemed to lose his reason,

Providentially got in,

But could not speak one word

Till he there, some time had been.

So you see, my friends,

How the frost of Illinois,

Came so near to freezing

And the destroying of my boy.

An over-ruling Providence,

Kindly preserved him then,

And he is yet alive,

And will die, we don’t know when.

Oh! May the Lord prepare him

For the solemn awful hour,

Convert him by Thy grace,

And by the Sovereign power.

Oh! Grant him truth and peace,

In this world’s length of days,

And in thy Heaven above,

Some humble resting place.

“Twas in the year of thirty,

The second winter John was here,

Upon the crust of snow

He ran, and killed three deer.

The crust would bear the boy,

The snow was very deep,

But upon the crust

The deer could not keep.

They could walk upon the crust,

But when they came to run,

Every leap broke through the snow,

And to the boy the chase was fun.

The snow was two feet deep

In the timber all around,

But on the knolls and the prairies

The snow had left the ground.

The wind had swept the snow

In the gullies and low ground,

And upon the knolls

No snow was to be found.

He said sometimes that he dropped in

To his middle, just about,

Sometimes up to his head,

Then ‘twas hard to get out.

He said he had good help,

He had three dogs in all.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOURTH

On being invited to take a ride out to visit one of my sons
who had been making some improvements about his house and premises since
I had been there; and brick falling into my chimney and that son
cleaning it all out, give rise to the following lines.

My eyes are so sore

That it fills me with gloom,

I’m so blind, I’m unfit

To take care of my room.

I would go to my son’s house

And there I would stay,

But I’m so fond of my home

And I like my own way.

I can sit where I please

And recline at my ease,

Lie down on my bed

To ease my sick head.

Lie down on my sofa,

It’s close to the fire,

I can have what I want,

What I wish or desire.

And I have a good stove

That will bake, boil or fry,

But sometimes smoked so bad

I was afraid I should die.

And it set me to thinking

What best I might do,

And perhaps, my dear son,

I’d best go home with you.

He took down the pipe

And he did it so quick,

And then from the chimney

He took out some brick.

Then put back the pipe,

Now it smokes no more,

If I’d known what had ailed it

It would have been done before.

So now the thing’s changed

My stove I won’t sell,

Since my son cleaned the chimney

It has done very well.

I have made up my mind

That I will stay where I be,

And not go through the cold,

Pretty things to see.

And now I burn wood,

And conclude on the whole,

I like my house better

Than when I burnt coal.

‘Tis so nice and so clean,

So warm and so good,

I won’t go abroad now.

No, not if I could.

I have a nice little grandson

To tend to my fire,

And a nice little cook

You can’t help but admire.

Her smiles and her words,

Are so soothing and kind,

That they tend to encourage

And cheer my sad mind.

For no one with sore eyes,

That pains them like mine,

But needs sympathy, patience,

Faith and grace combined.

I want to be thankful

I am still on my feet,

And can see how to walk ‘round

And find my good seat.

Where on my armchair

I can rock, me, and sing

Of the mercies and blessings

Of Heaven’s High King.

What blessings! What blessings!

Have shown on my way!

And mercy through all

My long life, every day.

How shall I be thankful

For what I received,

All glory to God

In the highest, I’ll give.

When I pass over Jordan,

My eyes will be well,

Then anthems of praises

With angels I’ll swell.

I long to see those

Who sang with me here,

Bright spirits in glory,

That to me was so dear.

O, then we’ll soon learn

That delightful new song,

Described in the Bible,

We’ll join with the throng.

We’ll join with our parents,

Our children and friends,

And there, with those love ones,

Eternity spend.

And then we’ll see Jesus,

Our Brother and Friend,

And praise Him forever,

World without end.

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