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COUSIN LUCRECE

Here where the curfew
Still, they say, rings,
Time rested long ago,
Folding his wings;
Here, on old Norwich's
Out-along road,
Cousin Lucretia
Had her abode.


Norridge, not Nor-wich
(See Mother Goose),
Good enough English
For a song's use.
Side and roof shingled,
All of a piece,
Here was the cottage
Of Cousin Lucrece.


Living forlornly
On nothing a year,
How she took comfort
Does not appear;
How kept her body,
On what they gave,
Out of the poor-house,
Out of the grave.


Highly connected?
Straight as the Nile
Down from "the Gard'ners"
Of Gardiner's Isle;
(Three bugles, chevron gules,
Hand upon sword),
Great-great-granddaughter
Of the third lord.


Bent almost double,
Deaf as a witch,
Gout her chief trouble—
Just as if rich;
Vain of her ancestry,
Mouth all agrin,
Nose half-way meeting her
Sky-pointed chin.


Ducking her forehead-top,
Wrinkled and bare,
With a colonial
Furbelowed air
Greeting her next of kin,
Nephew and niece,—
Foolish old, prating old
Cousin Lucrece.


Once every year she had
All she could eat:
Turkey and cranberries,
Pudding and sweet;
Every Thanksgiving,
Up to the great
House of her kinsman, was
Driven in state.


Oh, what a sight to see,
Rigged in her best!
Wearing the famous gown
Drawn from her chest,—
Worn, ere King George's reign
Here chanced to cease,
Once by a forbear
Of Cousin Lucrece.


Damask brocaded,
Cut very low;
Short sleeves and finger-mitts
Fit for a show;
Palsied neck shaking her
Rust-yellow curls,
Rattling its roundabout
String of mock pearls;


Over her noddle,
Draggled and stark,
Two ostrich feathers—
Brought from the ark.
Shoes of frayed satin,
All heel and toe,
On her poor crippled feet
Hobbled below.


My! how the Justice's
Sons and their wives
Laughed; while the little folk
Ran for their lives,
Asking if beldames
Out of the past,
Old fairy godmothers,
Always could last?


No! One Thanksgiving,
Bitterly cold,
After they took her home
(Ever so old),
In her great chair she sank,
There to find peace;
Died in her ancient dress—
Poor old Lucrece.

1892