Over the hill to the poor-house I’m trudgin’ my weary way—
I, a woman of seventy, and only a trifle gray—
I, who am smart an’ chipper, for all the years I’ve told,
As many another woman that’s only half as old.
Over the hill to the poor-house—I can’t quite make it clear!
Over the hill to the poor-house-it seems so horrid queer!
Many a step I’ve taken a-toiling to and fro,
But this is a sort of journey I never thought to go.
What is the use of heapin’ on me a pauper’s shame?
Am I lazy or crazy? Am I blind or lame?
True, I am not so supple, nor yet so awful stout;
But charity ain’t no favor, if one can live without.
I am willin’ and anxious an’ ready any day
To work for a decent livin’, an’ pay my honest way;
For I can earn my victuals, an’ more too, I’ll be bound,
If anybody only is willin’ to have me round.
Once I was young an’ han’some—I was upon my soul—
Once my cheeks was roses, my eyes as black as coal;
And I can’t remember, in them days, of hearin’ people say,
For any kind of a reason, that I was in their way.
‘Tain’t no use of boastin’, or talkin’ over-free,
But many a house an’ home was open then to me;
Many a han’some offer I had from likely men,
And nobody ever hinted that I was a burden then.
And when to John I was married, sure he was good and smart,
But he and all the neighbors would own I done my part;
For life was all before me, an’ I was young an’ strong,
And I worked the best that I could in tryin’ to get along.
And so we worked together: and life was hard, but gay,
With now and then a baby for to cheer us on our way;
Till we had half a dozen, an’ all growed clean an’ neat,
An’ went to school like others, an’ had enough to eat.
So we worked for the childr’n, and raised ’em every one,
Worked for ’em summer and winter just as we ought to’ve done;
Only, perhaps, we humored ’em, which some good folks condemn—
But every couple’s childr’n’s a heap the best to them.
Strange how much we think of our blessed little ones!
I’d have died for my daughters, I’d have died for my sons;
And God he made that rule of love; but when we’re old and gray,
I’ve noticed it sometimes, somehow, fails to work the other way.