The Courtin'


The Courtin' is a fine example of Lowell's colloquial dialect in his verses. It was retrieved from The Humour of America (1909).
The Courtin'
OD makes sech nights, all white an’ still
Fur’z you can look or listen,
Moonshine an’ snow on field an’ hill,
All silence an’ all glisten.
Zekle crep’ up quite unbeknown
An’ peeked in thru’ the winder;
An’ there sot Huldy all alone,
’Ith no one nigh to hender.
A fireplace filled the room’s one side
With half a cord o’ wood in—
There warn’t no stoves (tell comfort died)
To bake ye to a puddin’.
The wa’nut logs shot sparkles out
Towards the pootiest, bless her,
An’ leetle flames danced all about
The chiny on the dresser.
Again the chimbley crook-necks hung,
An’ in amongst ’em rusted
The ole queen’s-arm thet gran’ther Young
Fetched back from Concord busted.
The very room, coz she was in,
Seemed warm from floor to ceilin’,
An’ she looked full ez rosy again
Ez the apples she was peelin’.
’Twas kin’ o’ kingdom come to look
On sech a blessed cretur;
A dogrose blushin’ to a brook
Ain’t modester nor sweeter.
He was six foot o’ man, A1,
Clean grit an’ human natur’;
None couldn’t quiker pitch a ton,
Nor dror a furrer straighter.
He’d sparked it with full twenty gals,
He’d squired ’em, danced ’em, druv ’em,
Fust this one, an’ then thet, by spells—
All is, he couldn’t love ’em.
But long o’ her his veins ’ould run
All crinkly like curled maple;
The side she breshed felt full o’ sun
Ez a south slope in Ap’il.
She thought no v’ice hed sech a swing
Ez hisn in the choir:
My! when he made Ole Hunderd ring
She knowed the Lord was nigher.
An’ she’d blush scarlet, right in prayer,
When her new meetin’-bunnet
Felt somehow thru’ its crown a pair
O’ blue eyes sot upon it.
Thet night, I tell ye, she looked some!
She seemed to’ve gut a new soul,
For she felt sartain-sure he’d come,
Down to her very shoe-sole.
She heered a foot, and knowed it tu,
A-rasping on the scraper,—
All ways to once her feelin’s flew,
Like sparks in burnt-up paper.
He kin’ o’ l’itered on the mat
Some doubtfle o’ the sekle;
His heart kep’ goin’ pity-pat,
But hern went pity Zekle.
An’ yit she gin her cheer a jerk
Ez though she wished him furder
An’ on her apples kep’ to work,
Parin’ away like murder.
“You want to see my Pa, I s’pose?”
“Wall ... no ... I come dasignin’”—
“To see my Ma? she is sprinklin’ clo’es
Agin to-morrer’s i’nin’.”
107To say why gals act so or so,
Or don’t, ’ould be presumin’;
Mebbe to mean yes an’ say no
Comes nateral to women.
He stood a spell on one foot first,
Then stood a spell on t’other,
An’ on which one he felt the wust
He couldn’t ha’ told ye nuther.
Says he, “I’d better call agin;”
Says she, “Think likely, Mister;”
Thet last word pricked him like a pin,
An’.... Wal, he up an’ kist her.
When Ma bimeby upon ’em slips,
Huldy sot pale ez ashes,
All kin’ o’ smily roun’ the lips,
An’ teary roun’ the lashes.
For she was jes’ the quiet kind
Whose naturs never vary,
Like streams that keep a summer mind
Snow-hid in Jenooary.
The blood clost roun’ her heart felt glued
Too tight for all expressin’,
Tell mother see how metters stood,
And gin ’em both her blessin’.
Then her red come back like the tide
Down to the Bay o’ Fundy;
An’ all I know is they was cried
In meetin’ come nex’ Sunday.

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