by Ethel Emily (Williams) Day ~ Group 1




Five cents I paid for it,

This bottle of ink.

Now it stands there before me

While I sit and think.


With Some-body's Frost-proof

Black Ink it is filled.

I wonder how often

'Twill chance to get spilled.


What books it will ruin,

What table-cloths stain?

Who’ll do the upsetting

And clean up again?


Then as for the writing

It sometime will make,

The scribbles and scratches -

What form will they take?


Perhaps a love-letter –

I wonder to whom,

You’re a sly imp of darkness

You handmaiden of doom.


Perhaps some great news

It will need to relate.

Will it be joy or pain

That in hearts ‘twill create?


Will the letters be burned,

Or be treasured with care,

That are written with it,

And who’ll read them, and where?


Oh, the word, hard or tender

That maybe ‘twill write.

Oh, the heart aches or hopes,

It may bring to the light.


With these worrying thoughts

You have made my heart sink

‘Tis a terror you are

You black bottle of ink





My back how it aches and my arms are so sore

But the butter won’t come.

I’m so tired I just could lie down on the floor

But the butter won’t come.


I’ve churned and I’ve churned

Till my head is fair turned

While for rest I have yearned,

But the butter won’t come.


There is sweeping to do and the beds yet to make,

But the butter won’t come

There is dinner to get and biscuits to bake

But the butter won’t come.


Tho’ the work is piled thick

To this churn I must stick

Oh, I just am fair sick

When the butter won’t come.


The past is a blank and the future is dead

When the butter won’t come.

There’s no pleasure in life but to crawl in one’s bed,

When the butter won’t come.


Troubles never are rare

But there’s naught to compare

With one’s worry and care

When the butter won’t come.  

In 1939 ‘Stella Caughey kept a diary of her daughter Sheila’s third year.  The poem Daughter was found tucked into that diary.  The author, Grandmother Ethel Day, wrote many more poems and recorded them in several hard covered note books.  She gave one of these books, containing about 60 poems, to her daughter 'Stella.  Sixteen of these poems have been transcribed in groups of four onto four pages in this website.  This is the first such page.  Enjoy!




They say that you lose your children when out in the world they roam.

But I’m still finding my daughter now since she has left her home.


Such a tiny bundle of sweetness came to live with us one day.

“She is mine, mine, mine,” I whispered, as there on my arm she lay.


Mine the wee, soft, rosy body, and face so flower-sweet.

Mine the tiny, clinging fingers and the little, dimpled feet.


How I would guide her and guard her, this baby given to me,

Till she’d grow in mind and body the woman I ought to be.


Well, a book may be yours, tho’ its contents are altogether unknown

But it’s yours with a different meaning when you’ve made its thoughts your own.


A house you have never entered may be yours, so the titles say.

When you’ve lived and loved within it, it is yours in a different way.


And so it was with the baby whom I thought to guard and lead.

She was mine to love and cherish, but her life was her own indeed.


The page I thought blank was covered with writing strange to me.

The door was locked and bolted, and I didn’t hold the key.


I had thought it was all so simple, that just because she was mine

I would know her every feeling, her inmost thoughts divine.


But as months and years passed by us, she often puzzled me so.

And to urgent “why’s” she should answer a bewildered “I don’t know."


Slowly, oh so slowly, as love would show us the way

Together we learned to decipher the page that before us lay.


And slowly, oh so slowly, the outer doors swung wide.

And as room by room was opened she let me slip inside.


Not proudly now I enter, as one with a right to go.

But humbly and oh so grateful that she should honour me so.


And tho’ my mistakes are many, and I often blunder sore,

Still day by day we grow nearer, understand each other more.


And when she too is a mother, with children by her side,

She’ll for give my mistakes and errors.  She’ll know then how hard I tried.





My heart is as free as the waters that flow

            When the wild winds blow.

As free and as fresh as the billows that play, 

And as wild and as unconfined as they.

And it follows, no darkness appalling,

Where the wild winds are calling, calling,

            Calling me on as they go.


There never is time for a thought of woe

            When the wild winds blow.

When the winds are about me I know that I live.

Such delight can the feeling of young life give!

With the wind in its swiftness vying

My glad heart is flying, flying

            Over the earth below.


My thoughts as high as the heavens grow

            When the wild winds blow.

They grow as deep as the fathomless sea,

As the waves that roll they’re as free, as free

The wild winds are blowing, blowing

And such joy as I now am knowing

            At no other time I know.

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