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Thursday, October 22, 2009

THE OLD OAKEN BUCKET: A GREAT AMERICAN LOCAL POEM

The Old Oaken Bucket
by Samuel Woodworth

How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollections present them to view!
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild wood,
And every loved spot which my infancy knew;
The wide-spreading pond, and the mill which stood by it,
The bridge and the rock where the cataract fell;
The cot of my father, the dairy house nigh it,
And e'en the rude bucket which hung in the well;
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-cover'd bucket, which hung in the well.

That moss-cover'd vessel I hail as a treasure;
For often, at noon, when return'd from the field,
I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
The purest and sweetest that Nature can yield.
How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing!
And quick to the white-pebbled bottom it fell;
Then soon, with the emblem of truth overflowing,
And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well;
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-cover'd bucket arose from the well.

How sweet from the green mossy brim to receive it,
As poised on the curb it inclined to my lips !
Not a full blushing goblet could tempt me to leave it,
Though fill'd with the nectar that Jupiter sips.
And now, far removed from the loved situation,
The tear of regret will intrusively swell,
As fancy reverts to my father's plantation,
And sighs for the bucket which hangs in the well;
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-cover'd bucket, which hangs in the well.


Samuel Woodworth was born in Scituate Massachusetts in 1784
and the house and well he wrote about in the poem are still
standing and maintained by the Scituate Historical Society.
The town is about 10 miles from Abington where I live and I've
occasionally driven by the homestead. You can read more about it
at the SHS website here.

3 comments:

Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt said...

Love this! In my mother's day, everyone in town had to memorize it and the older folks often quote it in passing.

Heather Rojo said...

We used to visit friends in Scituate, and they lived near the park where there was a well sweep and the old wooden bucket. Everytime we drove by my Dad would recite the poem by heart. My uncle lived near "Norman's Woe" in Manchester by the Sea, and he could recite "Wreck of the Hesperus" by heart, too. I wish they still taught reciting in school!

Bill West said...

Polly & Heather
I'm glad the post brought back good
memories for you both.And I agree, Heather, it's too bad they don't spend more time with recitation nowadays in the schools.

Thank you both for your comments!