House Cleaning

Image from TexasEscapes – O’Quinn, Texas


[The following poetic effusion is appropriate at the present time, and will be appreciated by hosts of readers who have passed through the perils of house cleaning:]

The melancholy days have come, the saddest of the year,
Of cleaning paint, and scrubbing floors, and scouring far and near.
Heaped in the corners of the room, the ancient dirt lay quiet,
And spiders wove their web secure from fear, or din of riot,
But now the carpets are all up, and from the stair case top
The mistress calls to man and maid to wield the broom and mop.

Where are those rooms, those quiet rooms, the house but now presented,
Wherein we dwelt, nor dreamed or dirt, so cozy and cented?
Alas! they’re turned all upside down, that quiet suit of rooms,
With slops and suds, and soap and sand, and tubs and pails and brooms,
Chairs, tables, stands are standing, ’round at sixes and at sevens,
While wife and housemaids fly about like meteors in the heavens.

The parlor and the chamber floor was cleaned a week ago,
The carpets shook and windows washed, as all the neighbors know;
But still the sanctum had escaped — the table piked with books,
Pens, inks and paper all about, peace in its very looks —
Till fell the women on them all, as falls the plague on men,
And then they vanished all away — books, papers, ink and pen.

And now, when comes the master home, as come he must at nights,
To find all things are “set to wrongs” that they have “set to rights.”
When the sound of driving tacks is heard, though the house is far from still
And the carpet women are on the stairs, that harbinger of ill —
He looks for papers, books or bills, that were all there before,
And sighs to find them on the desk or in the drawer no more.

And  then he grimly thinks of her who set this fuss afloat,
And wishes she were out to sea in a very leaky boat;
He meets her at the parlor door, with hair and cap awry,
With sleeves tucked up and broom in hand, defiance in her eye,
He feels quite small and knows full well there’s nothing to be said,
So holds his tongue, and drinks his tea, and sneaks away to bed.

The Hillsdale Standard (Hillsdale, Michigan) May 8, 1866

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