Monday, December 24, 2012

Flora Visits Parsonsfield: A Memoir of the House at Blazo Corner circa 1953



“Come in, come in, dear Flora here come in! The hall/
Is long and open here, and brings you to the stairs.”
       


FLORA VISITS PARSONSFIELD  

Come in, come in, dear Flora here come in! The hall
Is long and open here, and brings you to the stairs.
The banister beckoning wants to take your hand--
It's had this whole long time your yearned-for visit planned.
And even Mimi, in from hunting mountain bears
Is waiting, hand pressed to the southwest parlor wall.

And though she wants to spring upstairs at once, she takes
You through the parlor door, where once her circus played
And shows you where the portraits hang, and how his eyes
Will follow you around the room, amused and wise.
The threadbare carpet here his Shaker mother made
Moves slowly with the shapes of shadowed snowflakes.

And Mimi pries open the old Emerson grand
To play for you a tune straight from her head (High Noon)
And opens up the cupboard door, so you see in
Wherein the china's kept, where lies her violin.
And there in the darkness glints an old silver spoon.
But on she wants to move--and hopes you'll understand

And yells "Come on upstairs!" and dashes out the room.
No time to show you out the window to the porch--
The porch she crawled out through the parlor window to.
We have to go upstairs, so much up there to show you!
Outside the parlor stands the hall and stairs, no torch
But sun required to light them; in light the hallway looms.

 “Oh Flora, you must fly to follow! Mimi's fast/
And leaps the sixteen steps in five quick bounds.”


Oh Flora, you must fly to follow! Mimi's fast
And leaps the sixteen steps in five quick bounds--she turns
And looks into the room due west and calls for you,
Still urging haste, to not let extra time accrue.
She has to show you Homer's bust, and all the urns,
The paint all petrified-- and feather mattress last.

And then the secret passage through the deep, deep closet;
The door is hidden, musty clothes are hanging in the way;
You have to push on through before you'll find yourself
Before the high-up chimney bookcase mantle-shelf
Atop the southwest bedroom's tall fireplace. I say
This for her, as she's still muffled in the closet,

...you'll find yourself
Before the high-up chimney bookcase mantle-shelf
Atop the southwest bedroom's tall fireplace.


Muffled and stopped by the close closet's hanging clothes
Which you must follow her through--on this she insists,
This obstinate girl in dungarees.  And so you do
Go through the hidden door to get the promised view.
It's not so easily told of what that view consists
Green Mountain, upper branches of an elm tree; those

Golden window panes, the ambergris the hot sun 
Gifted you in Summer; the thunder's rumble, rain
Pelting down on shingled roofs in tons, the great elm's
Swaying upper trunk, slow-tossing like a ship's helm.
Mimi remembers the sun's red glow and the pain
Of the elm disease, and sound of thundering tons.

And now you follow--Mimi's on the move again,
Right past the marble bureau-top and out the door,
Past the oaken desk, sit down on the window seat.
The hall ends there, where seat and wide-fanned window meet.
From there one sees the road, two hundred years or more
Ago, where Hampshire men drove by, cattle-herding then

Bound east for Portland's market--then the house was new.
Old Joe DeMarre, who made his way to Kezar Falls
In horse and wagon back in Nineteen Fifty-Three
Had waved and waved and waved to her, so she would see
And she waved back--Flora, can you hear him call?
He was very old.  Old Joe was an Indian too.

There is a door across the hall, but Mimi runs.
She follows back the banister, then comes around
To where she's by the stairs again and stands--for here
Is where to stand to look, a distant spot not near 
To see out through the fanning window span.  No sound
She makes, but points instead to elm trees in the sun.

“...for here /Is where to stand to look, a distant spot not near /
To see out through the fanning window span.”


Across the road the elm's great spreading limbs are wide
Yet fit inside the window-frame's wide fan from here.
Please Flora in your book, find out for me or read 
How those who framed the fan could know to sow the seed?
Or else ask Gaia, that ancient backwards-seer,
How came the world inside to fit the one outside?


Such questions she will ask some day, but cannot stop
To now; so follow Flora, Mimi's lead and keep
The answers in your head, she'll need them soon enough.
But now--right now--she has to show you other stuff--
Her mother' room, the cherry bed on which she'd leap
Up high to try and touch the ceiling stain, then drop

And try again, until she tired or else her mother came
And made her stop, and laughed at her, too nice
To even scold.  And Mimi takes you in her room,
The little one just off her mother's own:  its bloom
Of sunny light, this child's bedroom, must now entice
You to come in and sit beside its window frame.

And Mimi takes you in her room,
The little one just off her mother's own...”


It faces east, this single-windowed room, and looks
Down on the granite steps beneath the tall east door
Which first you came in, Flora, coming through the hall.
And do you see that maple? (Oh, hear Mimi call
Again to come!) She wants to show you something more,
The northeast bedroom fireplace bookcase and its books.

“She wants to show you something more,
The northeast bedroom fireplace bookcase and its books.”


Is this the third high-mantled fireplace that you've seen?
Let's see--the parlor's one, the bust of Homer's two,
The viewing room makes three, so this one here makes four. 
And Mimi knows them all, and knows there are six more
With windows on each side--she'll show them all to you
The wide pine boards for sitting, and places in between.

But now she makes you follow her into the "Dark
Bedroom," a room where no light shone at all so long
Until they put the toilet in and water pipes
And sink, a bathroom now, the modern standard type.
The scent of ancient camphor (spirits, oil?) is strong
Inside the closet's drawer; it brings to mind peeled bark.

And it is dark in here, inside this "dark bedroom,"
So Mimi lights the lamp of kerosene above
The little sink--the pan behind the lamp is bright
And makes the blackest closet shadows come to light.
A door leads out the room (which Mimi gives a shove
And opens without qualms, though it could be a tomb,

So dark it is and tunnel-like in there with clothes
On hooks on either side) and then another door
Which opens once again on light:  "Grandpa's study!"  
Announces Mimi.  In her joy her cheeks are ruddy,
She can't stand still, and Flora come! You must see more
Than those old books you're looking at, and those

Two windows filled with elms--"Come over here!" she yells
And opens up a little room, there are two more
You enter from the study, with bed and table
And microscope inside a case;  Aesop's Fables 
She's left beside the lamp beside the bed--it's for
Her visitor to see.  And Mimi knows it well;

It is her favorite book:  Would Flora like to read 
It too?  And seeing from your smile, it seems, you would,
She shows his microscope to you, the box of shells
Of eggs collected long ago by him--and now she tells
You, Flora, who her hero is, and thinks she should
Because perhaps, like you, he had a love for seeds.

And Flora see--that fireplace, tiniest of all,
Makes five we've seen so far (she's keeping count)--now come
To see the best part of it all! (How can that be?
They all appear to be the best, it seems, to Mimi.)
At study's end there is a door leads out, and from
That spot it narrows down, and winds against a wall 

Until you've come up to a door again. It's hard
To open--Mimi does it with a thrust:  it creaks
And swings ajar, and now the heat of Summer hits
As you descend the steps into the dark:  How fits
The past of seven generations?  How did it speak
To Mimi of its joys and woes in due regard

Inside the compass of that huge and treasured room?
"Shed Chamber," family called it, attic of this house
Where chests in corners stood, where duffel bags swung
Dustily from rafters and trap-door pulleys hung.
A room so wide and vast in size, you seemed a mouse,
In Summer stifling; in Winter, cold as a tomb.

“Inside the compass of that huge and treasured room?
"Shed Chamber," family called it, attic of this house”


"Flora, watch your step! The boards are loose and so you'll
Fall  right through--so follow close behind--I know the way to
Go!" (So Mimi promises us, she is stumbling
Through the dark.) There's something very still and humbling
Here, this hot and silent place she has brought you through:
Time is seated on a throne; you, on low footstool.

And there at the end of the room, dimly comes a light.
The single window's small and square, and dusty too.
But you can see enough--it takes away the gloom.
You see it's just an ordinary attic room,
With piles of books which Mimi's gone and strewn
About on rainy days.  No better new delight

But  drifting though the hours, looking at the barn
And butternut tree, hearing rain fall on the roof;
Or reading fashion magazines of  'Ninety Three
(Of  1893).  She dreamed how that would be,
Living back then, with bustles on, and horses' hooves
Trot-trotting on the road. Fun at night was telling yarns.

You might gets bored, she thinks, and now surmises how
She'll take you down the trap-door stairs (which she so loves
For its still-working pulley system there, which when
You lift the door a little bit, it opens then
All by itself!)--and snatches up a pair of gloves
On her way down to showing you the wooden plows

Downstairs in the garage.  The gloves are dainty, old
And fine, but Mimi stuffs them in her pocket, bound
To show you some new sight, the carriage house, woodpile.
She'll take them out, the gloves, to put on in a while.
Shed chamber things--a top, a bag of shells she's found
And sorted through--she likes to play with and to hold.

Downstairs beneath the long Shed Chamber room is housed
A carriage house, garage, and outhouse room--five seats,
And one of them is small--she makes you count them all;
A bench with windows spans the long ell's outer wall
Where someone's rigged a vise and left his tools.  It greets
You with the dusty arms of cobwebs ill-aroused.


It's here that Mimi sits inside the square of sun 
That bakes the wooden-boarded floor as it moves by,
And looks out through the window at the barn and dreams;
Or watches ant lions eat their prey--or she schemes
Of some new way to try and trick her brother, spy
On him, and follow him unseen; or shoot his bb gun.

“It's here that Mimi sits inside the square of sun 
That bakes the wooden-boarded floor as it moves by,”

 But Mimi sees you glance around--Oh, Flora no! 
Don't think you're lost, or turned around somehow, because
You can't see how to go, to get from here to there.  
Yes, you must trust in her, this girl who takes you where
You'd fear to go alone--no time there ever was
When she was lost in here.  She beckons--you must go.

The carriage house now holds a pile of wood; the plow
Which once the oxen pulled, will not see use again;
That old back door is hard to open--leave it shut 
For now.  Its granite steps have skunks beneath (no!) but
They're like the family now--you'll see them later when
We take the garbage out behind the barn--see how

The parents bring the little ones, and raccoons too
The same--to raid the garbage cans at night.  They seem
To know they won't be harmed by anyone if they
Come near.  And so it's been a hundred years--the hay's
Run through with trails they've grown accustomed to; the beams
The swallows roost upon-- it's sort of like a zoo.

And Mimi would go on and on about the birds and bees
And Blazo squirrels in the elms, and Blazo bears 
Out back at night.  Her mother calls them "Blazo" all, 
All animals about, even those which hop and crawl,
The crickets and the frogs--"because they've lived right there
With us forever, like the Blazos, like the trees."

And Flora, how you smile! This story Mimi tells 
Is true, of course, to that I'll testify.  But let
Her go and lead you now--why, you're just half-way done!
The other rooms await:  you won't miss even one,
Will you?  Come on, I'll tell her that your heart is set
On seeing next the dining room--watch her run pell-mell!

But Mimi does not run pell-mell, but looks at me
And laughs.  "Which dining room is that?" she asks,"You know
As well as I, there's two!"  Of course she's right--
About the house she's rarely wrong--the old one's light
From six tall windows flows; Green Mountain's western glow
Shines on the new--both of them you'll want to see.

Where are we now?  I must keep track--for talk turns one
Around; you lose where you have been. "Beside the stairs--
The trap-door stairs--and carriage house that's now a woodpile,
Remember?" Mimi asks you with a little smile
And turning points to still another door, right there
Beside the stairs--it opens on a room with sun.

It is the kitchen of the house, the oldest part,
Enhoused inside the ell, a room no longer used,
Of ample size but not so large as all the rest.
One wall is brick and rough-hewn ceiling beams attest
To its great age; against the wall a huge chartreuse
High cupboard stands alone and, empty now, apart.

“One wall is brick and rough-hewn ceiling beams attest/
To its great age;...”


Another stairway like the one that stands outside 
The door (the one we just passed through) comes down in here;
And Mimi must tell you now, that's how she goes
When she is told she must break in the house--for those
Are times she loves the best--she gladly volunteers!
Her mother's lost the key again ("Oh! We cannot get inside!")--

It's dropped behind the granite steps, its crack so wide
And deep it gets to keep a bunch of keys that way--
"I'll go!" she yells, delighted for the chance to be
A robber running up the woodpile stairs, you see,
Into the dark shed chamber room; she doesn't stay,
But takes the other set of stairs that goes inside

The kitchen room, and down around the dining room
And through the hall, and lets them in the door--she runs
The whole way there, such fun it is, this breaking in.
Her mother has a new key made, and so begins
The same story again.  Sometimes it happens, once
Or twice, again—for it's not best to just assume
     
The way will not be somehow blocked--she's had to scale
The slanted roof above the cellar entrance door.
She found a toe-hold on the shingles, threw herself
Up on the roof where there the kitchen forms a shelf
And crawled in the window, and dropped onto the floor,
And raced out into the hall and grabbed the rail

“--she's had to scale/The slanted roof above the cellar entrance door.”
And banister, and slid the whole way down the stairs--
No one there to see how she had done it--and let
Them in the door that way.  Sometimes they're standing
In the sun, the loss of keys no less demanding.
She always hurries--the lone heroic one who gets
Inside the house:  the rest of them, just standing there.

Oh Flora, don't encourage such disdain with smiles!
She thinks she owns the house (but truly, does she not?)
Because she can break in!  Now let us not debate
The state of ownership just yet--it's getting late
And we have still to see, she says, an awful lot;
And so let's follow her and go in single file

Right past Aunt Emily's door, past the high-up bookcase
Set inside the little passage wall, pausing, stopping.
"Grandpa's Study" is overhead, Mimi tells us,
Upstairs in the ell; yet growing light compels us
All to move ahead of her to shades of sunlight dropping,
And so we find ourselves before a great fireplace

Spanning half the wall across the room. Beside it
Stands the wood-box, square;  above the box, an oven
Built inside the bricks, its mantle high and wide there.
Mimi's voice is heard:  "This is the biggest room where
All the windows are--there's six."  And Mimi's coven
Meets in there, if such exists. She's first to deny it.


“And so we find ourselves before a great fireplace
Spanning half the wall across the room.”

She loves to come in here, the oldest dining room,
Whose windows' Indian shutters Mimi has pulled
Across until the room is dark inside as night;
And opened up again until the room is bright.
She's lain at length upon its floor's wide boards and mulled
Her mysteries in her mind and watched them rise and loom

“She's lain at length upon its floor's wide boards and mulled
Her mysteries in her mind and watched them rise and loom”

At large against the high, high ceiling's sunny space.
She lets you stand and look around at all of it--
She's staring at a spot where used to be a sink
When she was little, made of lead;  it makes her think
Of how this “keeping room” has changed, and bit by bit
Will witness her own (Mimi's!) wedding taking place

Flora, I will go with you for now--her trances last
A good long time.  She's trying to think of how rooms lie,
How sorted out they are by "common," "ours," and "theirs"
(Have you found the dark stairway? No one goes up there!)
Written in some will when someone way back died,
(It's common, theirs, or ours?)--relic-deeding from the past,

Divining of the dead. "My mother's and my room" 
Her voice breaks in, "are to the right, the landing makes
A little passageway between..." Then Mimi leaps
Into the void--straight up the Dark Stairway--it's steep.
Somewhere half way up the stairs a something breaks;
And all is dust and dark and no light lights the gloom.

No need to follow--up through this, this dark stairway
Between the hall and dining room which no one climbs,
Though Mimi does it now--she's down and come around 
Again to show us things we else could not have found
Out on our own:  the spinning-wheel whose humming rhymes
With hummingbirds' in honeysuckle outside. Plays


Put on in this great hall ('tis common) or a swim
At West Pond (running through the hall out to the porch)
Where sun bakes dry your bathing suit and dripping hair,
Where Mimi strings the beans for supper, eating pears.
She's moving to the speed of heels still bare, bright torch
Of flashlight--fireflies flash inside a jar, then dim.

“...Plays
Put on in this great hall (
'tis common)”

“...or a swim
At West Pond (running through the hall out to the porch)

In this great hall are stairs built up against the wall,
The ones we climbed before, all held up by a rail.
So let us climb again, a gradual assent,
And follow it (the rail) around where it is bent
And coiled against the wall.  Into that space a whale
Could fall--and yes, you'll fear that you could fall

If you aren't careful--Mimi always is.  Around
It gathers window-seat and desk, high up and steep.
It is impossible to be oblivious 
Of height up here (rather too adventurous
For even Mimi to stay). "Come on!" she yells, "We keep
The silver in the downstairs built-in cupboard!" (Sounds

Of someone in the hall at night--a robber? Creaks
Of floor-boards, someone walking...Through the secret door
We went to find each other, huddled...where's the gun? 
Shhh! Don't make a sound!)...but Mimi's on the run;
We'll have to follow her and ask, to find out more.
She's gone downstairs again--it's sitting rooms she seeks.

Susan's sitting room, southeast sitting room (warmest
Room in all the house). In here, in Fall, September 
Twenty-Eighth, in 'Sixty-Five, was born to mother
Susan, Robert Greenleaf Leavitt.  These rooms by other
Names won't go:  it's "Susan's Sitting Room," remember
(Ours), and "Emily's Sitting Room" (theirs).  An armistice

 “Susan's sitting room, southeast sitting room (warmest)
Room in all the house”

Of war between the sisters lay, so these two rooms
Declare their names--the little vaulted ceiling hall
Between them is the one you entered early on
When first you came.  The east door opens in upon
Them right and left, on both, as you walk past their walls.
And both will welcome you, dear Flora, please presume

As they both welcome Mimi in.  Both have high doors
Of feathered paint protecting tiers, wide shelves of  books
Or not--for they are open all the time, and volumes smell
Of dust for endless ages unexhumed; so fell
To Mimi these old treasures here--she goes to look
In them for something good to read, where bookworms bore.

In both a fireplace (seven, eight!) the book-lined sun-
Filled window seats beside each one wide-spaced.
In one the chez lounge horsehair sofa Mimi feared
To sit on for its prickly hairs (...it felt so weird!)
In both the golden brown of bookshelves' dusty lace 
Entranced her.  Both have doors out to the halls, and one

Leads to the dining room across the hall--the "new" 
Let's follow, Flora, quick before she gets away!
She's sure to show us where the old dumb waiter is.
Though broken now, it's not a place she'd have us miss; 
And though it doesn't move, it sometimes tends to sway.
She's pulled upon its ropes and tried to reach down to

"Both have doors out to the halls, and one
Leads to the dining room across the hall--the 'new'" 

The place where she could fix it, underneath the floor--
She longs to make it work again.   But what is this?
Instead of that, she wants to take you right outside!
I'm sure with her it's got to be a point of pride
She brings you first to see Green Mountain--can't resist
Your seeing this, which she loves best.  Come out the door

“She brings you first to see Green Mountain--can't resist
Your seeing this, which she loves best.”
That opens from the dining room, a conduit
For getting to the porch and kitchen, nothing more;
Perhaps a place for gulping down a meal, a place
You run through, if you're Mimi--there! Just see her race
Right through the dining room to open up the door
Out to the porch where all with golden sunlight's lit!

"See how it goes behind the mountain every night?"
(It is as though she asks herself). When she was small
She thought she'd go and look behind the mountain where
The sun would be--begged her mother take her there.
Oh Flora, see the glow of sun on leaves and sultry pall
Descending on this little world of golden light!

Screened in, the porch's marble table top is pink 
With shot-through shades of blue; and cool beneath our feet,
The cement floor still holds a hint of sun-soaked noon.
But Mimi's waiting for the night, when wind and moon
Make horses out of maple limbs--they thrash and beat
Their way across the sky.  She watches them and thinks.

There are two cots out here for sleeping in, and she
Sleeps every night she can in one; she hears the rain's
Torrential downpour from the porch's roof; and shakes
The covers from her in the morning when she wakes; 
And leaves where it is warm, where she has lain, 
And shivering, runs inside the dining room to see

If  breakfast's ready yet.  Her mother's burned the toast
Again and poached the eggs, and laughs (scritch scritch, scratch scratch
To see her shiver--cupboards, table, fireplace
(That's nine)--ahead, the kitchen's tiny cooking space.
This is the dining room, the room where plans are hatched
The gathering place the family seems to meet the most.
"...--ahead, the kitchen's tiny cooking space."

But Mimi is the host and she won't let you stop
To ponder this.  She wants to show you something else;
It's something in the kitchen, right by the cellar door.
It is the closet, something better than a store:
In here you'll find just anything--shoes, clothes, hats, belts
If you have lost it, it's in here. (That's true! the top

She lost--Shed Chamber top--she somehow found again
In here) and no one tries to organize it all.
Once Mimi tried, but gave it up to go outside 
(A giant jumbled junk-drawer this!)--she'd rather ride
Her bike down to Sam Pease's store; or call
A friend, than fix what's perfect anyway.  But when

You're ready, Flora, tired of looking at the maze
Of tangled stuff (what's that there--a safe?) left in
That closet there--and yes, that stove is kerosene,
The range that stands beside the little sink--I mean
To show you underneath the house.  There Mimi's been
With her big brother only--cobwebs never phase


Him--or the spiders, or the damp and creepy smell--
When they went down together there to get the oil,
The kerosene, from that old tank where it was kept.
She followed him with flashlight flickering, and crept
Along behind him down the stairs, the stairs that coiled
In crooked narrowness into a sort of well

Of darkness there.  Sometimes he'd open up the door
Outside, and let the sunshine in; more often not.
They'd go together cautiously--or he would stop
And scare her with a yell ("What's that??!!!"); or else he'd drop
His flashlight suddenly and laugh at her--he brought
Her with him just to try to scare her.  There the floor

You see, was dirt, and musty-smelling like a grave
(He'd tell her this) as they went down to get the oil.
But I want you to see across the huge expanse
Of space down here, dimensions of the greater manse
That's built in underworld construction on its soil:
Each chimney base, and there are five, each vaulted cave

Of brick, each grotto like a mine conceals a trove
Of bottles, bricks and jars, and huge foundation blocks
Of granite, four feet high and wide and thick, are set
Around its huge perimeter; and light is let
Through tiny windows sunk in wells, well-boxed
Between their ends.  As inlets of an ocean cove

Let in the water with the tide, so into here
The light comes floating in on shafts of sunny rays
Across the floor on sunny mornings.  Then all
The cobwebbed corners light with color when it falls
On them and Mimi, when she's tiptoed there to play
Has watched the light flood in and finally lost her fear.

But where's she gone again? The ever-running sprite
Has climbed back up those crooked stairs (be careful not
To hit your head!)--we'll try to follow her.  I'll bet
She's headed for the room you haven't been in yet
Or even seen--it's where at last she'd have you brought.
She seems to think that room's the best (can that be right?

She seems to think they're all the best--how can that be?)
It is the room we passed  beside the window seat
The one where window panes contain the spreading elm
Outside it in the hall.  This was an artist's realm
And is hers still somehow, her ghost's reclusive keep.
But Mimi doesn't know this yet; she'd have you see

Its closet, long and deep and partly filled with rolls
Of charcoal sketches, sheets of paper tied with strings 
And piled or stacked against the closet wall with care.
And Mimi's whiled away the hours up in there,
Unrolled them all, seeing what each one would bring,
Whose face she'll next discover, sketched in part or whole.

Up there is where the family keeps the things that don't
Belong to us (though that will change in years to come)
It's theirs too, her mother's brothers, Mimi knows,
This southeast room so filled with light it almost glows.
Though Mimi's never seen an antique shop, or some
Such place where others like to store old things, she won't

Think twice if we're compelled to liken those with this,
The room we use to store these things:  three buggy whips,
A tall school master's desk, a bird-cage, fans, the rare
Debris a family keeps down through the years, the layers
Piled up together in one place.  (Try not to trip
Though, Flora, going in!) Let's go now quick--we'll miss

The happy smile she's sure to have for showing you 
The last one, fireplace number ten.  Then Flora, then--
When she has shown you all there's left to show of this
Good house and gone to bed upon the porch, and kissed
Us both good night, we'll come back to this room again,
This bedroom, artist's keep and place for storage too

And you will find it all transformed.  In there will be
The spool-bed only, bookcase, writing desk.  I've kept 
The closet as it was in case you're up to write
An entry in your diary and want to see by light
Of wood-stove what she stored inside that crypt,
This artist of so long ago.  She'd have you see

I'm sure, the sketches that she drew of him in youth, 
Her cousin Robert, born like you to love all seeds
And leaves and trees.  For truly, these two grew as one,
Aunt Emily's artist daughter Maude and Susan's son,
Devotee of your sacred realm.  There you may read
In lines her hand has fashioned, something of that truth.

The stove I've lit against the cold that comes at night
Is lit for reasons other than necessity;
For while it warms you, you may more enjoy the way 
Light blooms against the walls around the room in rays
Of beauty's deep relief and rich complexity;
No other room rewards so well the sense of sight.


And yet less said more gained; here are the keys the realm
Depends upon, dear Flora--don't lose them down the crack!
The bathroom's there (dark bedroom), there right down the hall
(And do you hear?  On cue, the whipoorwill now calls);
The room across the hall has views the others lack.
Dutch elm disease as yet has not dared touch these elms

Which stand around this house.  Green Mountain's sun's gone down.
Come rest your weary feet from travel Flora, rest
Your mythy mind and bovine tale, your soul divine,
Your restless, boundless spirit.  Come and sip the wine
Of Parsonsfield.  And though you like it least, it's best
You sleep--Old Joe will wake you going into town

The first thing in the morning; at the crack of dawn.
Then Mimi will be up. Then will you give us news
From Cambridge, Troy, and Rome?  It's written night and day
Are all the same to her who rows for Rome--she may
Have found (our Julia may), the long-sought sea-shelled clue
She's walked that beach so long to fix her gaze upon:

You'd be the first to know.  So Flora, stay the night
And rest in peace, and in that window from the east
Will come the sun and strike you while you sleep; the birds
Will sing perhaps the sweetest songs you've ever heard
And you'll not want to leave your bed.  What better feast
Of paradise than sounds of birds and morning light?

Though not a Cambridge (Mimi's been there too), nor home,
This house enshrined with elms and rustling maple trees
Invites you in to share with others of your kind,
A Rome away from Rome, a respite for your mind.
That Julia visit next, I see, is Mimi's urgent plea.
(It is her right to ask, for this is Mimi's home.)

(*Flora is the protagonist of Julia Budenz's The Gardens of Flora Baum, an epic poem in five books.)





                 





The Blazo-Leavitt House is a large two-story white-clapboard mansion[1] built in Parsonsfield, Maine, in 1812 by William Blazo, uncle to prominent Parsonsfield lawyer Robert Tibbetts Blazo. Oral tradition holds that Robert T. Blazo, as a young man of fifteen in 1812, and later aged twenty in 1817, had helped with the construction of his uncle's house. This story seems credible because Robert had been bound out to his uncle William when Robert's father (William's brother) Daniel Blazo fell from a beam at a barn-raising in 1802 and broke his neck. Later, ownership of the house passed to the nephew, Robert T. Blazo. The house next was passed on to Robert Blazo's two daughters, Susan Blazo Leavitt and Emily Blazo Browne. Emily's daughter Maude Browne left no descendants, and the house eventually passed into the hands of Susan Blazo Leavitt's son, Robert Greenleaf Leavitt, his wife Ida Ruggli Leavitt, and his three children Russell Greenleaf Leavitt, Robert Keith Leavitt, and Constance Ruggli Leavitt Hanson. Thus it is called the Blazo-Leavitt house. The architect was  Thomas Eaton, who also designed houses in Kennebunk and other coastal towns.
The Blazo-Leavitt house has five large brick chimneys. The home also boasts elaborately carved and pillared entrances with leaded glass fans and sidelights, panelled doors, and small-paned windows. The main ell of the home was built in 1812, the main part of house being constructed five years later in 1817. William Blazo was son of Amos Blazo, who in turn was son of William Blazo of Bordeaux, France, who emigrated to America sometimes before 1727, settling first in Greenland, New Hampshire, and later in Epsom. Amos Blazo is recorded in the History of Parsonsfield as having been North Parsonsfield's first settler, clearing the fields at "Blazo's Corner" in March 1778.[2] Amos Blazo had five sons, four of whom settled on nearby farms. It was Amos's son William who built the Blazo House, later selling it to his nephew, and Amos's grandson, Robert Tibbetts Blazo.
Robert Tibbetts Blazo had begun his career as a schoolmaster. One of his pupils was fifteen year old Mary Freeman of Sandwich, New Hampshire, who would become his bride eight years later.[3] Before the marriage Robert Blazo practiced law for a time in Moultonborough, New Hampshire, but eventually the couple settled in Parsonsfield where Blazo practiced law, and was for many decades Justice of the Peace and Post Master. The couple had four children: Susan, Daniel, Charles and Emily. Descendants of Daniel still reside in the Daniel Blazo house directly across from the Blazo-Leavitt house at Blazo's Corner.
All four Blazo children attended Parsonsfield Seminary, to which their father had conveyed the land and helped establish. Here Susan Blazo met John Greenfield Leavitt, a fellow student from Buckfield, Maine, who had come to Parsonfield to prepare for Waterville College (today's Colby College). The couple married, and moved into the Blazo house with her parents; they had one child, Robert Greenleaf Leavitt.[4] Emily Blazo married Howard Hiram Browne, and they too took up residence in the house; they had one child, Maude Browne, who later became a portrait artist. Because Maude Browne was unable to have children, eventually ownership of the house came to the Leavitts and to their son Robert Greenleaf Leavitt, a well-known Harvard-educated botanist and educator. After Robert G. Leavitt's death in 1942, Robert's wife Ida and their children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, continued living in it every summer. Robert Greenleaf Leavitt's daughter, Constance Leavitt Hanson, with great regret, sold the house in 1973.[5]
Parsonsfield Seminary, Parsonsfield, Maine. Robert Tibbetts Blazo, second owner of the Blazo-Leavitt House, conveyed land on which Seminary was built and helped found the Seminary.
The Blazo-Leavitt house faces south, and its western side faces Green Mountain, an isolated mountain inEffingham, New Hampshire and part of the foothills of the White Mountains. Nearby is the Leavitt Plantation Forest (connected with another branch of the Leavitt family), an 8,603-acre (3,482 ha) tract that is the largest contiguous block of forest land south of Sebago Lake. Leavitt Plantation Forest covers 20 percent of Parsonsfield's land. With the support of The Nature Conservancy, the State of Maine has purchased a permanent conservation easement to ensure sustainable forest practices and public pedestrian access for recreation. The easement also prohibits development activity on the property. The land remains as working commercial forest.








3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my gosh I'm so happy I found this! I have such a fascination with the history of the blazo-leavitt house! Ever since I was a young girl, driving by on the school bus it always caught my eye! I use to live in Parsonsfield and have a great sentimental connection with the town, now I'm 17, and live about 45 minutes away but still like to take a drive by the blazo-leavitt place! Infact I just did last weekend, I got some photographs of the outside. I'm so happy you posted these photographs from the inside! (I've peeked through windows) it's amazing how different it looks today! I'm VERY interested in knowing what's going on with it now... It seems as if its been abandoned, I've probably stopped by maybe 6 times in the past year and it's still sitting there untouched, such a shame to let a beautiful house and piece of history just sit there! If you have any more info about the house, or what's going on with it today, I would love to know! Thank you so much!- Kylie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Kylie, I am so sorry it has taken me a whole year to reply--where are my wits? I am so happy you like the long poem, and even happier that you love the house. Peter Cyr owns it now, and he is going to try to restore it to what you see in the photographs (someone painted over the stairs--the horror!) Anyway, I hope we meet some day. Write me at mimi.freeman@gmail.com so I can put you in my email account and let you know when I'll be visiting myself, and I can show you all around (I will get permission from Mr. Cyr.) Thank you so much for writing! Mary PS Where do you live now?

      Delete