A Poem by Susan Coolidge (Sarah Chauncey Woolsey)
What is a home? A guarded space,
Wherein a few, unfairly blest,
Shall sit together, face to face,
And bask and purr and be at rest?
Where cushioned walls rise up between
Its inmates and the common air,
The common pain, and pad and screen
From blows of fate or winds of care?
Where Art may blossom strong and free,
And Pleasure furl her silken wing,
And every laden moment be
A precious and peculiar thing?
And Past and Future, softly veiled
In hiding mists, shall float and lie
Forgotten half, and unassailed
By either hope or memory,
While the luxurious Present weaves
Her perfumed spells untried, untrue,
Broiders her garments, heaps her sheaves,
All for the pleasure of a few?
Can it be this, the longed-for thing
Which wanderers on the restless foam,
Unsheltered beggars, birds on wing,
Aspire to, dream of, christen “Home”?
No. Art may bloom, and peace and bliss;
Grief may refrain and Death forget;
But if there be no more than this,
The soul of home is wanting yet.
Dim image from far glory caught,
Fair type of fairer things to be,
The true home rises in our thought,
A beacon set for men to see.
Its lamps burn freely in the night,
Its fire-glows unchidden shed
Their cheering and abounding light
On homeless folk uncomforted.
Each sweet and secret thing within
Gives out a fragrance on the air,–
A thankful breath, sent forth to win
A little smile from others’ care.
The few, they bask in closer heat;
The many catch the farther ray.
Life higher seems, the world more sweet,
And hope and Heaven less far away.
So the old miracle anew
Is wrought on earth and proved good,
And crumbs apportioned for a few,
God-blessed, suffice a multitude.