Woodworth, Samuel

Let’s keep churning them out, shall we? Next up in the Library of America collection of 19th century American poetry is Samuel Woodworth’s poem “The Bucket.” It’s a pleasant enough bit of nostalgia written in anapestic tetrameter, but hardly a memorable poem. It is all content, with the form as nothing more than the shape of the vessel.

The poem announces itself in the first line:

How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood […]

There is to be no surprise in this poem: an adult is remembering his childhood, and we know that straight away. The nostalgia is specifically for the moss-covered bucket in the well on his father’s plantation. As far as I can tell from the poem, it was a nice enough bucket and I can well imagine the childhood joy of drinking from it. But the poem tends toward the twee, especially in the refrain that ends each stanza (the last quarter of it varies by stanza; the first three quarters do not):

The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket which hung in the well.

It also occurs to me, hearing it so many times in quick succession, that “bucket” is in fact a rather strange sounding word, which doesn’t help Woodworth out here.

Okay, I’ll stop—I really don’t have much interesting to say about this poem.