THE CANE-BOTTOM’D CHAIR

William Makepeace Thackeray

image of a cane-bottom'd chair

 

 

 

 

1

Reader 1

In tattered old slippers faded and worn,

2

 

And a ragged old jacket with cuffs slightly torn,

3

 

Away from the world, and its toils and its cares,

4

 

I've a snug little kingdom up four pair of stairs.

 

 

 

5

All

To mount to this realm is a toil, to be sure,

6

 

But the fire there is bright and the air rather pure;

7

Reader 2

And the view I behold on a sunshiny day

8

 

Is grand through the chimney-pots over the way.

 

 

 

9

All

This snug little chamber is cramm'd in all nooks

10

 

With worthless old knickknacks and silly old books,

11

 

And foolish old odds and foolish old ends,

12

 

Crack'd bargains from brokers, cheap keepsakes from friends.

 

 

 

13

Reader 3

Old armor, prints, pictures, pipes, china (all crack'd),

14

 

Old rickety tables, and chairs broken-backed;

15

 

A two-penny treasury, wondrous to see;

16

 

What matter? 'tis pleasant to you, friend, and me.

 

 

 

17

Reader 4

No better divan need the Sultan require,

18

 

Than the creaking old sofa that basks by the fire;

19

Reader 5

And 'tis wonderful, surely, what music you get

20

 

From the rickety, ramshackle, wheezy spinet.

 

 

 

21

Reader 6

That praying-rug came from a Turkoman's camp;

22

 

By Tiber once twinkled that brazen old lamp;

23

Reader 7

A Mameluke fierce yonder dagger has drawn:

24

 

'Tis a murderous knife to toast muffins upon.

 

 

 

25

All

Long, long through the hours, and the night, and the chimes,

26

 

Here we talk of old books, and old friends, and old times;

27

 

As we sit in a fog made of rich Latakie,

28

 

This chamber is pleasant to you, friend, and me.

 

 

 

29

Reader 8

But of all the cheap treasures that garnish my nest,

30

 

There is one that I love and I cherish the best:

31

Reader 9

For the finest of couches that's padded with hair

32

 

I never would change you, my cane-bottom'd chair.

 

 

 

33

All

'Tis a bandy-legg'd, high shoulder'd, worm-eaten seat,

34

 

With a creaking old back, and twisted old feet;

35

 

But since the fair morning when Fanny sat there,

36

 

I bless you and love you, old cane-bottom'd chair.

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37

Reader 10

If chairs have but feeling, in holding such charms,

38

 

A thrill must have pass'd through your wither'd old arms!

39

 

I look'd, and I long'd, and I wish'd in despair;

40

 

I wished myself turn'd to a cane-bottom'd chair.

 

 

 

41

All

It was but a moment she sat in this place,

42

 

She'd a scarf on her neck, and a smile on her face;

43

 

A smile on her face, and a rose in her hair,

44

 

And she sat there and bloom'd in my cane-bottom'd chair.

 

 

 

45

Reader 11

And so I have valued my chair ever since,

46

 

Like the shrine of a saint, or the throne of a prince;

47

 

Saint Fanny, my patroness sweet I declare,

48

 

The queen of my heart and my cane-bottom'd chair.

 

 

 

49

All

When the candles burn low, and the company's gone,

50

 

In the silence of night as I sit here alone –

51

 

I sit here alone, but we yet are a pair –

52

 

My Fanny I see in my cane-bottom'd chair.

 

 

 

53

Reader 12

She comes from the past and revisits my room;

54

 

She looks as she then did, all beauty and bloom;

55

 

So smiling and tender, so fresh and so fair,

56

 

And yonder she sits in my cane-bottom'd chair.


Glossary

realm – kingdom

chimney-pot – an earthenware or metal pipe fitted on the top of a chimney to increase draft and disperse smoke

broker – a middleman in a sale

two-penny treasury – inexpensive set of books

divan – a long, cushioned seat, often without arms or back

Sultan – a former sovereign of Turkey

spinet – small upright piano

Turkoman – a people living in parts of the Middle East

Tiber – river flowing through Rome, Italy

Mameluke – at one time, a member of the military class in Egypt

Latakie – a variety of Turkish tobacco

garnish – a decorative addition

bandy-legged – having crooked legs

shrine –a place holding something honored by a religion

patroness – a woman who sponsors or aids