Posts Tagged ‘Latch-String’

The Old Latch-String

December 19, 2009

THE OLD LATCH-STRING.

How dear to my heart is the home of my childhood,
A clap-board roofed cabin half hidden from view
Where I grew like a weed springing up on the wildwood,
And clung to the home which had sprung up there, too;
The old lean-to kitchen, the smoke-house beside it,
The straw-stack with shelter of thatch covered o’er —
The ash-hopper near, where the wood-shed could hide it,
And e’en the rude latch-string which hung on the door;
The old-fashioned latch-string,
The brown faded latch-string,
The long leather latch-string
Which hung on the door!

That latch-string! how often when hungry and jaded
I grasped it quite carefully lest it should catch;
For I knew it was rotten as well as quite faded,
So I pulled it down gently, to lift up the latch;
The noon meal was ready — how quickly I seized it —
A bowl full of mush with sweet milk brimming o’er.
Not a full-blushing goblet could tempt me to leave it,
When I’d pulled the old latch-string which hung on the door;
The old-fashioned latch-string,
The brown faded latch-string,
The long leather latch-string
Which hung on the door!

The shot-pouch I carried (me thinks I still see it)
And the same frisky squirrel that pestered my soul,
As I shouldered my flint-lock and hastened to tree it,
But alas, it fled from me and hid in a hole.
The old weedy cow yard still fondly I view it,
And the path, with tall horse-nettles thickly grown o’er,
How I scratched my bare feet every time I ran through it,
To reach the old latch-string which hung on the door;
The old-fashioned latch-string,
The brown faded latch-string,
The long leather latch-string
Which hung on the door!

And when far away I had strayed from that dwelling,
Returning, I hailed it with many a shout,
For I knew at a glance — ’twas a signal unfailing —
That the folks were at home when the latch-string was out.
— But the dreams have all faded, which fondly I cherished,
When barefoot I romped on the old puncheon floor;
And the clap-board roofed cabin itself has nigh perished,
As well as the latch-string which hung on the door;
The old-fashioned latch-string,
The brown faded latch-string,
The long leather latch-string
Which hung on the door!

The spring-branch still runs at the foot of the meadow
Where we cut the tall clover and pastured our flocks.
But the harvest-time held o’er my life a dark shadow —
For I hated to “cradle,” and pile up the shocks;
And now, when removed from that loved situation,
The tears of regret will intrusively pour
As fancy reverts to the old habitation,
And sighs for the latch-string which hung on the door;
The old-fashioned latch-string,
The brown faded latch-string,
The long leather latch-string
Which hung on the door!

Helen Whitney Clark, in St. Louis Magazine.

Spirit Lake Beacon (Spirit Lake, Iowa) Sep 14, 1888