The Poetry of Elsie Strawn Armstrong

Transcribed and Donated by Leslie Howard Strawn

My uncle Letts was telling me,

It was not long before,

He saw him at a raising,

And saw him lifting more,

Than any other man

That was upon the ground,

Where a hundred men were

There a standing round.

A heavy, large log barn,

A neighbor wished to raise,

That kept us all to work

The best part of two days.

He said some stout young men

Were trying of their strength,

At the end of a green barn log

That as fifty feet in length.

The end lay on a log

Not far from where they stood,

It lay up fair and handy

So they could take hold, good.

Some of them could not move it,

Some raised it but a mite,

When father came to feel of it

He lifted it upright.

He seemed to lift it easily,

Raised it more that a foot high,

And then he let it fall,

And it seemed to take their eye.

Some said, “What is he made of?

It can’t be flesh and blood,

He is not made of soft metal,

He is neither lead nor wood.

“He must be made of brass or iron,

Or some other kind of metal,

I wonder now how old he is,

And then he is so little.”

He spoke to one William Wilkie,

“Come and sit upon it,”

He came and sat upon the log.

He raised it with him on it.

This Wilkie called a stout young man

Twenty-five years of age,

And in the sport of lifting

Then he did engage.

Wilkie was rather large,

And weighed at least two hundred pounds,

And thought he could lift more

Than any man upon the ground.

But when my father lifted him,

Sitting on his load,

He thought it was time now

For him to take the road.

I am in my seventy-fourth

And traveled much alone,

But never had a joint put out,

Nor yet a broken bone.

I coldest winter weather

Myself I did expose,

But hitherto have been preserved

And never one night froze.

I went through frost and snow

And faced the northwest storm,

When business did demand it,

Not often stopped to warm.

My friends sometimes did chide me,

For leaving of my fire,

And said they’d not turn out today,

No, not for any hire.

I never stopped for rain or snow

On the appointed day,

But kept my business going

By moving in that way.

When it was rain or snow

It seemed the best for me,

I found the stores more clear,

And the merchants I could see.

If on a pleasant day,

I chanced to go to town,

I found the stores so full

I scarce could get around.

And Friday, that unlucky day,

Seemed the best luck for me,

I was most apt to find at home

Those I did wish to see.

I have often been exposed

On horseback and vehicle,

But have always been preserved,

For which I would be thankful.

“This true, I’ve been upset,

From buggy, sleigh and sled,

Likewise I’ve been turned over

Out of the wagon’s bed.

But soon got right side up

And never was much hurt.

But made me think I’d better

Keep more on the alert.

And twice I fell down cellar,

That was the worst of all,

For it jarred me and it scared me,

A taking such a fall.

I have traveled every hour

In all the twenty-four,

Through the heat and rain and frost,

And now my eyes are sore.

I strove to dress accordingly

So I might be going,

For business often pressed me,

I had something to be doing.

I traveled most on horseback,

The way I like to ride,

And seldom did fall off

Unless my horse fell on his side.

Of rather sound material

I surely must be made,

Or I would not have escaped,

I often thought and said.

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