A Cherished Relic.

A poem by George W. Doneghy

In the attic, unused, there they put it away;
The old oaken frame has begun to decay;
What iron's about it is eaten with rust,
And upon and around it are cobwebs and dust;
The dear, loving hands that on it have spun,
With labor and toil forever are done,
And long is the time since I saw them unreel
The threads, snowy white, from the old spinning-wheel!

It stood on a porch where the Summer sunshine
Sifted down to the floor through a clambering vine,
Whose tendrils about the lattice-work clung
Like my heart-strings round her, and the song that she sung;
And the pictures of fancy I con o'er and o'er,
Till, raptured, I see the dear features once more,
And thrill with the touch when her lips set the seal
Of her love, as she spun on the old spinning-wheel!

Then through the shadows and mists of many long years
The old cottage home to the vision appears;
And though youth it has fled, and the hair it is gray,
I'm a bare-footed boy returned to his play--
Forgetting the present to dream once again
That life had no anguish, no sorrow, no pain;
And sweetly the bells of the memory peal
When communing up there with the old spinning-wheel!

And back from the past, with its grief and its joy,
Come the tones of a voice I heard when a boy,
And I see once again, as it moved to and fro,
A form that now rests where the wild roses blow,
And the sentinel stars their love vigils keep
Above the dear one in her long, dreamless sleep;
But memories sweet to a heart that can feel
Still cluster around the old spinning-wheel.

Some spokes from the rim are broken and gone,
And it stands there forsaken, neglected, alone;
It knows naught of language, but a story can tell
With a charm that for me time cannot dispel;
And often I climb the old attic stair
The love of my childhood with it to share,
And emotions possess me I cannot conceal
When fondly I gaze on the old spinning-wheel!

The distaff is worn and smooth with the touch
Of the now folded hands that used it so much;
And lingering there I clearly can trace
The sweet smile of love from a well-cherished face,
Which sheds round about it a halo divine
When thus I am kneeling at memory's shrine,
And hallows the thoughts which on the mind steal,
When up there alone with the old spinning-wheel!

'Tis then that I see her in saintly guise,
Through the fast-welling tears that come to my eyes--
A vision arrayed in raiment white
That beckons to me from the regions of light,
And illumines the way that my footsteps may tread
Unerringly where her love for me led--
Along the straight path that she tried to reveal
As she taught me, and spun on the old spinning-wheel!

Yes, the finger of Time has furrowed the brow,
And silvered the hair, yet I dream of her now
As when, long ago, I heard as a child
The words of her love that my sorrows beguiled;
And this relic she used but brings back anew
The morning of life, that was fresh with the dew
Distilled from the heart, as she taught me to kneel
Right down by her side, and the old spinning-wheel!

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