Monday, March 22, 2010

Ballad of The Weaver

Ballad of The Weaver

Old Margot, the weaver,  
Grows slow at the loom
As the thread flies over
The shuttle of doom.

Her fingers have guided
The pearly wool thread
Her house keeps alone.
He rode from her humming
A tune full of tears;
And she waited his coming
and counted the years

That she had waited,
And he not come,
Till five had freighted
Each finger and thumb.

She speaks through the whirring
Of shuttle and thread,
And the cat, on hearing,
Has lifted his head:
"The thread is thinning;
My shroud is spun;
The weaving and spinning
Are over and done!"
The thread of her will
Has snapped in the loom;
Her foot has grown still
On the treadle of doom

I re-read this poem by Byron Herbert Reece yesterday.  Reece was a native of Union County, Georgia where I also grew up and when I was in high school he was one of the local claims-to-fame, although he had been dead several years.  He gained national attention when his first books of poems were published but he was never able to move beyond a small devoted following.  He died young, taking his own life in 1958.  However, over fifty years after his death there's an active effort to commemorate his life and writings.  The Byron Herbert Reece Society was formed a few years ago and is working to build an interpretative center at the site of his last home, near Blood Mountain in Union County.  Bettie Sellers, who has been the State of Georgia Poet Laureate, has been a champion of Reece for many years.  Betty Smith, a musician, has set the poem, Ballad of the Weaver, to music and it's found on her compilation, Psaltry Concert


  1. Gosh that sounds very ominous! I particularly like "the treadle of doom". My dog is called Margot and takes great interest in my loom and always has a good sniff of new yarns and cloth. Maybe she was Margot from the poem in a former life! Thank you for sharing that.

  2. Thanks for sharing the poem. I have heard snippets of him over the years, I think now I am old enough to appreciate his writings! :)

    Bettie Sellers accompanied my mother and my family on vacation just after she had been named poet laureate. Her first "poem" as poet laureate was a humorous look at my son's preference for only foods that begin with "p". Pizza, pop-tarts, peanut butter...

  3. Lauren,
    That's a great story about Bettie's poem based on your son's P-food preference! She's a really wonderful poet--but so is your Mother!

    Reece's writings can be dark but they're beautifully written, both the poetry and the two novels. Hope you can delve into them.

    Reece often dealt with passing of time, aging and death as a theme in his work. He had a short and hard life yet left some beautiful writings.