The Housewife’s Lament

What is it about the housewife?  She toils from dawn to dusk and nobody respects her.  If she’s lucky, she’ll catch a few hours of sleep at night, but most likely, she’ll lay in bed mourning the loss of yet another day before the next one falls upon her.

This housewife decided there wasn’t much point to life, after all, if all she did was cook and clean and teach and run people around.  So she stared at her bookcases for a while until she unwittingly pulled Robert Burns from a shelf.  What he was doing up there, she’ll never know, but that’s not the point.  She pulled him down.  And he sang her this lament:

O Thou pale Orb, that silent shines,
While care-untroubled mortals sleep!
Thou seest a wretch, who inly pines,
And wanders here to wail and weep!
With Woe I nightly vigils keep,
Beneath thy wan, unwarming beam;
And mourn, in lamentation deep,
How life and love are all a dream!

Well, what else is he supposed to do?  The silly woman was being a little melodramatic.  All she needed were a few of his exclamation points to put an end to what she couldn’t express, anyway!!!

Thank you, Rabbie.  Now she’s run off to finish folding the laundry.  That wasn’t really the point; was it?

He looks like such a rake.  Image stolen from Sophia Wellbeloved Poetry

I suspect I should add that the above stanza is the first in Burns’s The Lament, a poem I discovered in my Everyman edition of Poems in Scots and English (1993).



  1. Saumya-ha, ha, I should know since I'm housewife extraordinaire! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    Rowenna-thanks! Have a great time w/ the laundry. You'll have to listen to Mozart or something.

  2. T. Anne–actually, I really like Rabbie Burns. But he liked to satirize in verse, so I always feel slightly mocked when I read his poetry.:)

  3. I'm sure it's strange to comment with lyrics but the poem reminded me of this. I think Jimmy Hendrix lyrics are like poetry. (I know the point is different, just reminded me of it.)

    After all the jacks are in their boxes And the clowns have all gone to bed You can hear happiness staggering on down the street Footsteps dressed in red And the wind whispers mary
    A broom is drearily sweeping Up the broken pieces of yesterdays life Somewhere a queen is weeping Somewhere a king has no wife And the wind, it cries mary The traffic lights, they turn, blue tomorrow And shine their emptiness down on my bed The tiny island sags down stream ’cause the life that lived Is dead And the wind screams mary
    will the wind ever remember The names it has blown in the past? And with this crutch, it’s old age, and it’s wisdom It whispers no, this will be the last And the wind cries mary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *