Poem, “Hannah, Binding Shoes” by Lucy Larcom, Mid-1800s

Lucy Larcom, born in Beverly, wrote this poem describing an elderly woman who waits for a lost fisherman and sews the upper parts of shoes.

Hannah Binding Shoes

Lucy Larcom. 1826-1893

    POOR lone Hannah, 
Sitting at the window, binding shoes: 
    Faded, wrinkled, 
Sitting, stitching, in a mournful muse. 
  Bright-eyed beauty once was she,         5
  When the bloom was on the tree: 
    Spring and winter, 
Hannah ‘s at the window, binding shoes. 
    Not a neighbor, 
Passing nod or answer will refuse,  10
    To her whisper, 
“Is there from the fishers any news?” 
  Oh, her heart ‘s adrift, with one 
  On an endless voyage gone! 
    Night and morning,  15
Hannah ‘s at the window, binding shoes. 
    Fair young Hannah, 
Ben, the sunburnt fisher, gayly woos: 
    Hale and clever, 
For a willing heart and hand he sues.  20
  May-day skies are all aglow, 
  And the waves are laughing so! 
    For her wedding 
Hannah leaves her window and her shoes. 
    May is passing:  25
‘Mid the apple boughs a pigeon cooes. 
    Hannah shudders, 
For the mild southwester mischief brews. 
  Round the rocks of Marblehead, 
  Outward bound, a schooner sped:  30
    Silent, lonesome 
Hannah ‘s at the window, binding shoes. 
    ‘T is November, 
Now no tear her wasted cheek bedews. 
    From Newfoundland  35
Not a sail returning will she lose, 
  Whispering hoarsely, “Fishermen, 
  Have you, have you heard of Ben?” 
    Old with watching, 
Hannah ‘s at the window, binding shoes.  40
    Twenty winters 
Bleach and tear the ragged shore she views. 
    Twenty seasons:— 
Never one has brought her any news. 
  Still her dim eyes silently  45
  Chase the white sails o’er the sea: 
    Hopeless, faithful, 
Hannah ‘s at the window, binding shoes.


The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections includes this poem:

“Hannah, Binding Shoes,” The Prairie Farmer: A Weekly Journal, (Chicago, Ill.) March 21, 1885. Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections, https://idnc.library.illinois.edu/?a=d&d=PFR18850321.2.34&e=——-en-20–1–img-txIN——— Accessed August 25, 2o2o.