The Poetry of Elsie Strawn Armstrong

Transcribed and Donated by Leslie Howard Strawn

Written for Elsie Armstrong---composed by herself at the age of seventy-eight for the amusement of her nephew Arsene Pishrow, September 25, 1867.

--Josephine Copp

Written to my daughter-in law in California in 1864.

I was thinking today myself I’d report,

Because I’m still here, yet left in the fort,

While thousands much younger were sent o’er that bourne

Where none that e’er crossed it did every return.

I have passed through deep waters but still am alive

Seen many cold winters, in all seventy-five,

I find myself feeble but still wish to strive

To make myself useful as long as I’m alive.

To knit spotted mittens is a favorite employ,

Three pair I’ve just knit for the girl and the boy

And four pair of stockings likewise I have knit

In less than two weeks, and well they do fit.

I have pieced seventeen covers within the last year,

Tied two, quilted five, and they are all here,

Eight of them are silk, so nice it will do,

And one for that preacher that badly was used,

For Democrat principles sadly abused.

Turned out of the church and that parsonage, too,

By the vile abolitionists, black, bloody crew,

He is raising a church of the pious and good,

Such as love law and gospel, as all Christians should.

The salt of the earth and the cream of the same,

The rich and the good that love a good name,

He is gathering them up from the churches around,

His doctrine is pure, it’s truth and it’s sound.

His church will prosper because it is right,

The pious and humble are dear in God’s sight,

On the one I call mine I have quilted my name,

To five sheets of wadding and mousseline-de-laine.

It is a nice quilt, and that you will say,

If ever you see it—I hope that you may,

In length it is nearly two yards and a half,

About two yards in breadth—when you see it you’ll laugh.

I’ve just got it done, taken off of the frame,

You will say pretty well for the old blind dame,

I’ve been quilting three days and very near four,

This evening feel weary and my fingers are sore.

My eyes still distress me, this evening feel bad,

But I would not complain to make you feel sad,

I find I’m fast failing; my work is near done,

More than seventy long years since first I began.

I am one handed down to the fourth generation,

O grant me, kind Savior, eternal salvation,

He has led me safe through, even down to old age,

And his loving kindness he still doth engage.

He has promised old age his love and his care,

And like lambs in his bosom he still doth them bear,

Such precious promise my sorrows allay,

And fill my poor heart with gladness and joy.

Oh, give me that love that casts out all fear,

That may disturb my peace and annoy me here,

Give me that kind of faith that sweetly works love,

And purifies the heart for some humble seat above.

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