The Dress of New Homespun.

How dear to her heart, is her dress of new homespun
As often and o’er she turns to its view,
Her fancies, her hopes, now fast center in it,
As she looks with fond pride on its trimmings of blue.
The sleeves, cuff and ruffles with cord nearly bound,
The yoke with its point, then—buttons in blue,
Could you see, you’d confess no fault could be found,
So tasteful in details, so bright in its hue;
The dress of new homespun, the brown check homespun,
There’s nothing so sweet as its trimmings of blue.
That new dress of hers, she hails as a treasure,
How often and o’er, she turns, and with pride
Finds in it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
And slights with good grace the muslin beside.
How ardent she seized it, with hands that were glowing,
And quickly, the patterns she brought into use,
Impatient to see her idol fast growing,
Feeling sure its bright face she could never abuse.
That dress of new homespun, that dark check homespun,
That new dress of hers, she can never abuse.
And now it is finished, how sweet in its brightness,
As poised on her arm new beauties arise.
Not a dress of new organdie, though loved for its brightness
Could bring from her heart any pain or fond sighs.
And now far removed from Parisian fashion,
By rail-splitter Abe’s effectual blockade,
This new dress of hers quells unruly passions,
For truly decked in it there’s no sweeter maid.
That dress of new homespun, that dark check homespun,
That new winter homespun never will fade.

Title:The Dress of New Homespun.

Author:Henri Brent

Publication:Houston Telegraph

Published in:

Date:June 28th 1864

Keywords:cotton, industry, war


This poem from the Confederate South is an important reminder that the ‘Cotton Famine’ affected the United States as well as countries in Europe. Abraham Lincoln’s blockade, mentioned in the third stanza here, included shipments of raw cotton from the South to the industrial textile mills of the North, so as the war continued many Southern women found themselves dusting down old spinning wheels, and re-learning the skills of making clothes from scratch form raw cotton. Indeed, this practice, rather like home-grown vegetables in the UK during the Blitz, became a point of national pride in the Confederate states, and was seen as a way that women could assist in the war effort. – SR