The Old Oaken Bucket, Currier & Ives

D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts

Pastoral scene of house on left in image, man in suit at well in lower right of image drinking water from a large bucket. Verse below title: “How sweet from the green mossy brim to receive it, As poised on the curb it inclined to my lips, Not a full gushing goblet could tempt me to leave it, Though filled with the nectar that Jupiter sips.”

Samuel Woodworth was a popular and well-known newspaper publisher, author and poet. One of his most famous poems, later turned into a song, was called “The Bucket” commonly known as “The Old Oaken Bucket.” The poem, which captures the spirit of childhood, has been described as one of the most beautiful works in the English language. Fanny Palmer illustrated the sentiment of the poem in a print produced in 1864. A young boy drinks from the bucket while he stands at a stone well in front of his large home. In the background is a bucolic scene of cattle and other farm animals. The image was so popular that the lithograph was reissued in 1872, the year of this print. The third stanza of the poem, illustrated here, reads: “How soon from the green mossy rim to receive it, As poised on the curb it reclined to my lips, Not a full flowing goblet could tempt me to leave it, Tho’ filled with nectar that Jupiter sips. And now far removed from the loved situation, The tear of regret will intrusively swell. As fancy reverts to my father’s plantation, And sighs for the bucket that hung in the well. The old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket, The moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.”

Object Creator
Currier & Ives (American, 1834-1907)
Object Creation Date
Hand-colored lithograph
17 x 12 5/8 inches
Gift of Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert supplemented with Museum Acquistions Funds
Accession Number
On View?
Image Request
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