The Poetry of Elsie Strawn Armstrong

Transcribed and Donated by Leslie Howard Strawn

And another family has come in

That’s living near to me,

And with them I have bargained

Over my cares to see.

This man is nearly six feet high,

Athletic, stout and bold,

His teeth are white, his eyes are blue,

He’s thirty-nine years old.

He’s what the world calls well put up,

Stands straight and is erect,

About the sort of man you’d choose

A house to protect.

He weighs exact two hundred pounds,

He’s of a fair complexion,

And since I am in his care,

I feel I have protection.

He starts my fires and leaves me coal,

For me to burn by day,

To keep me warm if it should storm,

Sometimes, he goes away.

His wife is of the smaller kind,

Scarce weight a hundred pounds,

But she is of the smartest kind

At business, all around.

She’s industrious and ingenious

At every kind of work,

Persevering, energetic

And never known to shirk.

She washes and she irons

And brings me in my clothes,

To be faithful, kind and hones

She seems to be disposed.

She is pleasant, kind and cheerful,

Help me, she often would,

And feeble age and blindness

Such a friend’s very good.

She is straight and neat in person,

And of graceful form,

In attachment she is steady,

In her friendship firm and strong.

When this long predicted, awful war commenced, I felt very bad.
I still hoped it would not be in my day, and sitting here alone,
hearing the music and knowing my grandsons and nephews and
perhaps some of my sons, too, were going, thoughts like
the following occupied my mind.

Protect them, Heaven!

My faltering tongue

Could scarce to Heaven

The prayer address.

For oh, the heart

From which it sprung,

Felt the keen pressure

Of distress.

It bled for friends

To distance borne,

Departed, never to return.

O freedom, must they sacred tree

Be nourished still by tears and blood,

Must our expiring kindred by

Round thy reeking alter strewed?

The North and South

Have fallen out!

A shame to nations,

What about?

The South has Negroes,

The North has none,

And that’s the way

This war begun.

Envy, ambition,

Is the the bane

On which our people

Seem insane.

That Negro wealth

Should be the cause,

Why should they break

All nature’s laws.

Must sons, grandson,

Nephew go

To fight their cousins,

Not their foe,

And leave their farms

And homes and labor,

To go and fight

Their friends and neighbors?

But go they must, yes, to a man,

And save the Union if they can,

The Constitution is at stake,

Good care of this, they ought to take.

Then go, ye gallant warriors, go,

Arrest destruction’s swift career,

In might vengeance crush the foe,

And bid your hidden strength appear.

May heaven direct each patriot arm,

And shield each patriot breast from harm,

And if the hero yields his breath,

Great God, receive his parting sigh.

And call him from the realm of death,

To purer mansions in the sky,

And sweetly may his ashes rest,

By all his country’s wishes blessed.

The Spirit of my dreams has taken a change.

That crazy old fanatic,

Called Henry Ward Beecher,

And many more such demagogues

That fain would be our teacher,

They should be placed before,

In the hottest of the battle,

Where they could hear the cannon roar

And hear the artillery rattle.

The let them call on Negroes

To help them out of danger,

And not the unoffending

And innocent white stranger.

Excuse a little slang from an old woman who has lived out three score and ten.

Abe Lincoln and Jeff Davis

And many more such wretches,

I fear will soon be lost

In old Satan’s clutches.

If they don’t soon repent

And stop this wicked murder,

They can’t expect forgiveness

Now, --nor yet hereafter.

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