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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Annie Fellows Johnston (1863–1931)

The Old Church

CLOSE to the road it stood among the trees,

The old, bare church, with windows small and high,

And open doors that gave, on meeting-day,

A welcome to the careless passer-by.

Its straight, uncushioned seats, how hard they seemed!

What penance-doing form they always wore

To little heads that could not reach the text,

And little feet that could not reach the floor.

What wonder that we hailed with strong delight

The buzzing wasp, slow sailing down the aisle,

Or, sunk in sin, beguiled the constant fly

From weary heads, to make our neighbors smile.

How softly from the church-yard came the breeze

That stirred the cedar boughs with scented wings,

And gently fanned the sleeper’s heated brow

Or fluttered Grandma Barlow’s bonnet strings.

With half-shut eyes, across the pulpit bent,

The preacher droned in soothing tones about

Some theme, that like the narrow windows high,

Took in the sky but left terrestrials out.

Good, worthy man, his work on earth is done:

His place is lost, the old church passed away;

And with them, when they went, there must have gone

That sweet, bright calm, my childhood’s Sabbath day.