Down slant the moonbeams to the floor
Through the garret's scented air,
And show a thin-spoked spinning-wheel,
Standing ten years and more
Far from the hearth-stone's woe and weal, -
The ghost of a lost day's care!

And over the dreaming spinning-wheel,
That has not stirred so long,
The weaving spiders spin a veil,
A silvery shroud for its human zeal
And usefulness, with their fingers pale,
The shadowy lights among.

See! in the moonlight cold and gray
A thoughtful maiden stands;
And though she blames not overmuch
With her sweet lips the great world's way,
Yet sad and slow she stoops to touch
The still wheel with her hands.

"Forsaken wheel! when you first came
To clothe young hearts and old,
Our ancestors were glad to wear
Your woof, nor knew the shame
Which later days have bred, to share
The homespun's simple fold!

"My lover's gone to win for me,
With tender pride and care,
Riches to garnish all our days;
But love thrives in simplicity
As well as in the prouder ways,
If noble thought is there!

"When our strong grandsires vowed to wed,
Stout knots of wool, and corn,
Were gathered in, and hardly more
Of what will count not when we're gone!
Life brought them to a happy shore,
Who set their sails at dawn.

"O silent wheel! we weave a sad,
Weak fabric of our days;
The faith that moved thee long is gone;
Forgot, the couple, lass and lad,
Who loved with courage deeply drawn,
Heeding but God's delays!

"On thy long loneliness the sun
Blazes in dread, the moon
Shines with a pitiless, threatening hue!
And while the golden sand-grains run,
Old age comes nearer; and like you
I may be standing silent - soon!

"Then turn, my lover, turn your eyes
Back to the humble door;
Waste not the youthful years in hand.
See where the truest comfort lies,
And join the freer old-time band,
Nor crave a worldly store!

"In Freedom's land let no one know
Even the chain of ease,
Nor bow to royal Luxury's glance.
From peasant-hands fair art can grow;
From the rough brow thought springs with lance
And helmet: God loves these!"

She wept; then raised her head, and swung
The aged wheel with whispering whir;
And as it turned, it softly sung
(In fancy) this response to her: -

"I had not spun the sower's shirt,
I had not kept the children warm,
If I had found a wearing harm
In my monotonous toil alert.

"To those who wait with eager eyes
And ready hands and tender hearts, -
They find the giant year, that parts,
Hath forged strong links with paradise!

"Sigh not that Time doth turn the glass
To let the golden sand-grains run,
While longer shadows of the sun
Fall o'er the spring-time, bonny lass!

"The circumstances of a life
Are little things compared to it;
The way love's shown is ever fit;
Thank God, who gives us love, not strife!

"And if I do not stand beside
The hearth, as fifty years ago,
No current of the years that flow
Can rob the radiance from a bride!

"I know not why the world should change,
I know not why my day is done;
And yet this limit of my zone
Hints of the limit to all range.

"Man's progress always alters tint,
As mountains move from rose to gray;
Yet like their shapes, love still doth stay
The same, complete, - 'tis God's imprint.

"And yet I dream Time yet may turn
Its wheel to weave the humbler thought,
As in old days. When joy is sought,
Men find it where the hearth-fires burn."