Cottage Songs by George MacDonald


Close her eyes: she must not peep!
Let her little puds go slack;
Slide away far into sleep:
Sis will watch till she comes back!

Mother’s knitting at the door,
Waiting till the kettle sings;
When the kettle’s song is o’er
She will set the bright tea-things.

Father’s busy making hay
In the meadow by the brook,
Not so very far away–
Close its peeps, it needn’t look!

God is round us everywhere–
Sees the scythe glitter and rip;
Watches baby gone somewhere;
Sees how mother’s fingers skip!

Sleep, dear baby; sleep outright:
Mother’s sitting just behind:
Father’s only out of sight;
God is round us like the wind.


Sweep and sweep and sweep the floor,
Sweep the dust, pick up the pin;
Make it clean from fire to door,
Clean for father to come in!

Mother said that God goes sweeping,
Looking, sweeping with a broom,
All the time that we are sleeping,
For a shilling in the room:

Did he drop it out of glory,
Walking far above the birds?
Or did parson make the story
For the thinking afterwards?

If I were the swept-for shilling
I would hearken through the gloom;
Roll out fast, and fall down willing
Right before the sweeping broom!


This is the way we wash the clo’es
Free from dirt and smoke and clay!
Through and through the water flows,
Carries Ugly right away!

This is the way we bleach the clo’es:
Lay them out upon the green;
Through and through the sunshine goes,
Makes them white as well as clean!

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This is the way we dry the clo’es:
Hang them on the bushes about;
Through and through the soft wind blows,
Draws and drives the wetness out!

Water, sun, and windy air
Make the clothes clean, white, and sweet
Lay them now in lavender
For the Sunday, folded neat!


Dark, as if it would not tell,
Lies the water, still and cool:
Dip the bucket in the well,
Lift it from the precious pool!

Up it comes all brown and dim,
Telling of the twilight sweet:
As it rises to the brim
See the sun and water meet!

See the friends each other hail!
“Here you are!” cries Master Sun;
Mistress Water from the pail
Flashes back, alive with fun!

Have you not a tale to tell,
Water, as I take you home?
Tell me of the hidden well
Whence you, first of all, did come.

Of it you have kept some flavour
Through long paths of darkling strife:
Water all has still a savour
Of the primal well of life!

Could you show the lovely way
Back and up through sea and sky
To that well? Oh, happy day,
I would drink, and never die!

Jesus sits there on its brink
All the world’s great thirst to slake,
Offering every one to drink
Who will only come and take!

Lord of wells and waters all,
Lord of rains and dewy beads,
Unto thee my thirst doth call
For the thing thou know’st it needs!

Come home, water sweet and cool,
Gift of God thou always art!
Spring up, Well more beautiful,
Rise in mine straight from his heart.

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Wash the window; rub it dry;
Make the ray-door clean and bright:
He who lords it in the sky
Loves on cottage floors to light!

Looking over sea and beck,
Mountain-forest, orchard-bloom,
He can spy the smallest speck
Anywhere about the room!

See how bright his torch is blazing
In the heart of mother’s store!
Strange! I never saw him gazing
So into that press before!

Ah, I see!–the wooden pane
In the window, dull and dead,
Father called its loss a gain,
And a glass one put instead!

What a difference it makes!
How it melts the filmy gloom!
What a little more it takes
Much to brighten up a room!

There I spy a dusty streak!
There a corner not quite clean!
There a cobweb! There the sneak
Of a spider, watching keen!

Lord of suns, and eyes that see,
Shine into me, see and show;
Leave no darksome spot in me
Where thou dost not shining go.

Fill my spirit full of eyes,
Doors of light in every part;
Open windows to the skies
That no moth corrupt my heart.

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