The West Country

Have you been in our wild west country? then
   You have often had to pass
Its cabins lying like birds’ nests in
   The wild green prairie grass.

Have you seen the women forget their wheels
   As they sat at the door to spin—
Have you seen the darning fall away
   From their fingers worn and thin,

As they asked you news of the villages
   Where they were used to be,
Gay girls at work in the factories
   With their lovers gone to sea!

Ah, have you thought of the bravery
   That no loud praise provokes—
Of the tragedies acted in the lives
   Of poor, hard-working folks!

Of the little more, and the little more
   Of hardship which they press
Upon their own tired hands to make
   The toil for the children less:

And not in vain; for many a lad
   Born to rough work and ways,
Strips off his ragged coat, and makes
   Men clothe him with their praise.

From The Last Poems of Alice and Phoebe Cary (Hurd and Houghton, 1876), edited by Mary Clemmer Ames. This poem is in the public domain.