The Poetry of Elsie Strawn Armstrong

Transcribed and Donated by Leslie Howard Strawn


Angry words are sometimes spoken,

In a rash and thoughtless hour,

Brightest links of life are broken

By their deep, insidious power.

Hearts inspired by warmest feeling,

Ne’er before by anger stirred,

Sometimes rent, past human healing,

By a single angry word.

Bitter drops of care and sorrow,

Bitter poison drops are they,

Weaving for the coming morrow,

Saddest memories of today.

Angry words! O, Let them never

From the tongue unbridled slip,

May the hearts best impulse ever

Check them, ere they soil the lip.

July, 1863. When I was going to Jacksonville with my brother
Jacob Strawn and three young ladies, we spent a day in Springfield.
Jacob engaged an omnibus to take us through the city.
We went first to the Matteson house and there
I met special old acquaintances that I have known since their childhood.
Mr. Eaton Goodell of Springfield, and Mrs. May Spicer of Chicago.
The ladies, after looking through the house and grounds, went on with brother,
but I stayed and had a pleasant visit with my friends and
Mrs. Goodell and her grandmother. Mrs. Spicer wished me to get up
some rhyme on my visit there, especially for Mr. Goodell,
so I made an attempt.

Near thirty years ago

A little boy I knew

His skin was fair, his cheeks were red,

His eyes were pretty blue.

And then, when small and young,

In a store he did engage,

And there he did more business

Than others twice his age.

No matter where the goods,

If they were high or low,

He would spring upon the counter

And the goods he soon would show.

So pleasant and so active

To wait on all came in,

Faithful and persevering

That boy has ever been.

He grew in stature and in favor

With all the good and great,

When something over twenty

He chose himself a mate.

She was the Governor’s daughter,

The Governor of our State,

In every sense a lady,

Worthy to be his mate.

They are living now in Springfield,

Magnificent and grand,

But still they’re kind and pleasant

To their friends on every hand.

When I was in Springfield,

I went to see the grounds,

Hearing of the garden

And the splendor that surrounds.

When I entered in the door,

To my joy and surprise,

Familiar old acquaintances

Were the first things met my eyes.

They took me by each hand

As soon as I got there,

And said, “Oh, Mrs. Armstrong!

Why! How did you get here?”

When I told them how it was

They said, “You must stay here today,

Your company is not going,

And with us you must stay.”

I thought it was my privilege

To stay with friends so kind,

And the pleasing invitation

Did exactly suit my mind.

We all went in the garden

And he showed us all the grounds,

And the girls seemed much delighted

With the scenery around.

So much delicious fruit

Was a pleasant sight to see,

And the ripest and the best

He picked and gave to me.

The girls picked for themselves,

For they could choose and see,

But as I was old and blind

He was picking still for me.

Till my pockets all were full

And I told him to desist,

But still he was finding extras

That I must have, he did insist.

One acre and one quarter

Of the riches kind of ground,

Ornaments and flowers

And lots of fruit around.

When the girls ate all they wished

They went riding with my brother,

But I stayed there with them

And their good old grandmother.

He took me through the house

And showed my every part,

There could be nothing wanting

To please and cheer the heart.

So rich and so convenient,

It doth surely far excel

All I ever saw before,

And there this couple dwell.

That house in which they live

Cost ninety thousand dollars,

They are both superior persons

And both of them are scholars.

They’re what the world calls well put up,

And both full medium size.

Straight, well formed and handsome,

And both have got blue eyes.

And that lady from Chicago

That in the house did meet,

I was very glad to see her,

And to me, it was a treat.

And that interesting lady

Whose age was eighty-three,

Intelligent and smart,

And nine years older than me.

Toward evening he took his carriage

And took me all around,

Showing me the richest

And best part of the town.

And took me to the State House,

Showed me where my sons did sit,

And pleasant, friendly people

In that house we met.

Then he took me to the depot

To the ladies and my brother,

And when the cars came on,

We all went off together.

If I had been their mother

They could not have been more kind,

To make my visit pleasant

And cheering to my mind.

O, may sweet smiling comfort

Still throw their ways with flowers,

Yielding them fresh fragrance

On every passing hour.

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