Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sundays of old, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Front page of When We Were Little
1985 edition
Mary Fanny Youngs, of an old Oyster Bay family, in the PREFACE to her collection of "When We Were Little / Children's Rhymes of Oyster Bay" says: "WHEN we were little, we lived in an old gray house in Oyster Bay Cove, so close to the harbor that the high tides in the Spring and Autumn always flooded the dark, earth-floored cellar. For two hundred and sixty years the little old house has stood there, and in all that time has never gone out of the possession of the lineal descendants of the staunch old pioneer who built it. For that reason, the love of the old traditions, the old ways, the very rafters over our heads and earth beneath our feet, were not only, "bread in our bone," they were soul of our souls."

Theodore Roosevelt adds in the Foreword: "Miss YOUNGS writes of the quaint, old-time Long Island life, of which not only her father and I, but she herself and my children, were part." Beautiful description of delights of Long Island follows. Conclusion reflects on good, honest living anywhere: "I hope these poems will also appeal to others; for our life was essentially the same as all the old-fashioned life lived elsewhere in the open coutry; this was fundamentally a simple and a wholesome life."

Now the poem:

Mary Fanny Youngs

SUNDAY is such a different day
From all the other days-
I do such different kinds of things
And play such different plays.
Up to the queer old Chapel, first,
To Sunday-school I go,
And there learn Bible stories
Which I already know.

Then serv'ral miles to church we drive
All in our Sunday things-
Across the graves and out to sea
The cheerful church-bell rings.
We sit so far toward the front
We never dare be late-
I love to hear my Grandpa sing
And see him pass the plate.

And when it comes to sermon-time
Which I can't understand,
I watch the window where the Christ
Looks down, with lifted hand;
I look across the shining bay
All crinkled with the breeze,
And up into the still, blue sky,
And flowering locust trees.

And after we have gone back home
And dinner all is done,
Then I would like to go and play
And have a little fun,
But Grandma says "No games to-day!"-
Then Katie comes, and we
Go out for hours among the woods
To see what we can see.

And sometimes it is windflowers,
And sometimes bloodroot white,
And sometimes it is arbutus
Half hidden out of sight.

And sometimes it is puddingstones
And sometimes velvet moss-
But always we are happy there
And never come back cross.

Then, after tea we read awhile,
And when I've gone to bed-
When I am safely tucked away
And all my prayers are said,
Katie upstairs, and Grandpa down,
They both begin to sing,
And as I drift away to sleep
I hear their voices ring-

"From Greenland's Icy Mountains",
"Nearer, My God, to Thee,"
"The Church's One Foundation,"
"Jesus Loves Even Me"-
And that's the very last I hear.
And this is why I say
I like my Sundays different
From any other day!

"SUNDAY" by Mary Fanny Youngs from When We Were Little, published by The Mad Printers of Mattituck under the auspices of the Oyster Bay Historical Society.
Reprinted after 1985 edition, with publisher's permission.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - All the Swans, Long Island Poem for Sunday

1 comment:

  1. Very sweet. I specially loved:

    "And when it comes to sermon-time
    Which I can't understand,"