A Heap o' Livin'
Edgar A. Guest
To Marjorie and Buddy this little book of verse is affectionately dedicated by their Daddy
WHEN YOU KNOW A FELLOW
When you get to know a fellow, know his joys and know his cares, When you've come to understand him and the burdens that he bears, When you've learned the fight he's making and the troubles in his way, Then you find that he is different than you thought him yesterday. You find his faults are trivial and there's not so much to blame In the brother that you jeered at when you only knew his name.
You are quick to see the blemish in the distant neighbor's style, You can point to all his errors and may sneer at him the while, And your prejudices fatten and your hates more violent grow As you talk about the failures of the man you do not know, But when drawn a little closer, and your hands and shoulders touch, You find the traits you hated really don't amount to much.
When you get to know a fellow, know his every mood and whim, You begin to find the texture of the splendid side of him; You begin to understand him, and you cease to scoff and sneer, For with understanding always prejudices disappear. You begin to find his virtues and his faults you cease to tell, For you seldom hate a fellow when you know him very well.
When next you start in sneering and your phrases turn to blame, Know more of him you censure than his business and his name; For it's likely that acquaintance would your prejudice dispel And you'd really come to like him if you knew him very well. When you get to know a fellow and you understand his ways, Then his faults won't really matter, for you'll find a lot to praise.
THE ROUGH LITTLE RASCAL
A smudge on his nose and a smear on his cheek And knees that might not have been washed in a week; A bump on his forehead, a scar on his lip, A relic of many a tumble and trip: A rough little, tough little rascal, but sweet, Is he that each evening I'm eager to meet.
A brow that is beady with jewels of sweat; A face that's as black as a visage can get; A suit that at noon was a garment of white, Now one that his mother declares is a fright: A fun-loving, sun-loving rascal, and fine, Is he that comes placing his black fist in mine.
A crop of brown hair that is tousled and tossed; A waist from which two of the buttons are lost; A smile that shines out through the dirt and the grime, And eyes that are flashing delight all the time: All these are the joys that I'm eager to meet And look for the moment I get to my street.
IT ISN'T COSTLY
Does the grouch get richer quicker than the friendly sort of man? Can the grumbler labor better than the cheerful fellow can? Is the mean and churlish neighbor any cleverer than the one Who shouts a glad "good morning," and then smiling passes on?
Just stop and think about it. Have you ever known or seen A mean man who succeeded, just because he was so mean? When you find a grouch with honors and with money in his pouch, You can bet he didn't win them just because he was a grouch.
Oh, you'll not be any poorer if you smile along your way, And your lot will not be harder for the kindly things you say. Don't imagine you are wasting time for others that you spend: You can rise to wealth and glory and still pause to be a friend.
To live as gently as I can; To be, no matter where, a man; To take what comes of good or ill And cling to faith and honor still; To do my best, and let that stand The record of my brain and hand; And then, should failure come to me, Still work and hope for victory.
To have no secret place wherein I stoop unseen to shame or sin; To be the same when I'm alone As when my every deed is known; To live undaunted, unafraid Of any step that I have made; To be without pretense or sham Exactly what men think I am.
To leave some simple mark behind To keep my having lived in mind; If enmity to aught I show, To be an honest, generous foe, To play my little part, nor whine That greater honors are not mine. This, I believe, is all I need For my philosophy and creed.
I'd like to be a boy again, a care-free prince of joy again, I'd like to tread the hills and dales the way I used to do; I'd like the tattered shirt again, the knickers thick with dirt again, The ugly, dusty feet again that long ago I knew. I'd like to play first base again, and Sliver's curves to face again, I'd like to climb, the way I did, a friendly apple tree; For, knowing what I do to-day, could I but wander back and play, I'd get full measure of the joy that boyhood gave to me.
I'd like to be a lad again, a youngster, wild and glad again, I'd like to sleep and eat again the way I used to do; I'd like to race and run again, and drain from life its fun again, And start another round of joy the moment one was through. But care and strife have come to me, and often days are glum to me,
And sleep is not the thing it was and food is not the same; And I have sighed, and known that I must journey on again to sigh, And I have stood at envy's point and heard the voice of shame.
I've learned that joys are fleeting things; that parting pain each meeting brings; That gain and loss are partners here, and so are smiles and tears; That only boys from day to day can drain and fill the cup of play; That age must mourn for what is lost throughout the coming years. But boys cannot appreciate their priceless joy until too late And those who own the charms I had will soon be changed to men; And then, they too will sit, as I, and backward turn to look and sigh And share my longing, vain, to be a care-free boy again.
WHAT A BABY COSTS
"How much do babies cost?" said he The other night upon my knee; And then I said: "They cost a lot; A lot of watching by a cot, A lot of sleepless hours and care, A lot of heart-ache and despair, A lot of fear and trying dread, And sometimes many tears are shed In payment for our babies small, But every one is worth it all.
"For babies people have to pay A heavy price from day to day— There is no way to get one cheap. Why, sometimes when they're fast asleep You have to get up in the night And go and see that they're all right. But what they cost in constant care And worry, does not half compare With what they bring of joy and bliss— You'd pay much more for just a kiss.
"Who buys a baby has to pay A portion of the bill each day; He has to give his time and thought Unto the little one he's bought. He has to stand a lot of pain Inside his heart and not complain; And pay with lonely days and sad For all the happy hours he's had. All this a baby costs, and yet His smile is worth it all, you bet."
Never a sigh for the cares that she bore for me Never a thought of the joys that flew by; Her one regret that she couldn't do more for me, Thoughtless and selfish, her Master was I.
Oh, the long nights that she came at my call to me! Oh, the soft touch of her hands on my brow! Oh, the long years that she gave up her all to me! Oh, how I yearn for her gentleness now!
Slave to her baby! Yes, that was the way of her, Counting her greatest of services small; Words cannot tell what this old heart would say of her, Mother—the sweetest and fairest of all.
I am selfish in my wishin' every sort o' joy for you; I am selfish when I tell you that I'm wishin' skies o' blue Bending o'er you every minute, and a pocketful of gold, An' as much of love an' gladness as a human heart can hold. Coz I know beyond all question that if such a thing could be As you cornerin' life's riches you would share 'em all with me.
I am selfish in my wishin' every sorrow from your way, With no trouble thoughts to fret you at the closin' o' the day; An' it's selfishness that bids me wish you comforts by the score, An' all the joys you long for, an' on top o' them, some more; Coz I know, old tried an' faithful, that if such a thing could be As you cornerin' life's riches you would share 'em all with me.
Who has a troop of romping youth About his parlor floor, Who nightly hears a round of cheers, When he is at the door, Who is attacked on every side By eager little hands That reach to tug his grizzled mug, The wealth of earth commands.
Who knows the joys of girls and boys, His lads and lassies, too, Who's pounced upon and bounced upon When his day's work is through, Whose trousers know the gentle tug Of some glad little tot, The baby of his crew of love, Is wealthier than a lot.
Oh, be he poor and sore distressed And weary with the fight, If with a whoop his healthy troop Run, welcoming at night, And kisses greet him at the end Of all his toiling grim, With what is best in life he's blest And rich men envy him.
MA AND THE AUTO
Before we take an auto ride Pa says to Ma: "My dear, Now just remember I don't need suggestions from the rear. If you will just sit still back there and hold in check your fright, I'll take you where you want to go and get you back all right. Remember that my hearing's good and also I'm not blind, And I can drive this car without suggestions from behind."
Ma promises that she'll keep still, then off we gayly start, But soon she notices ahead a peddler and his cart. "You'd better toot your horn," says she, "to let him know we're near; He might turn out!" and Pa replies: "Just shriek at him, my dear." And then he adds: "Some day, some guy will make a lot of dough By putting horns on tonneau seats for women-folks to blow!"
A little farther on Ma cries: "He signaled for a turn!" And Pa says: "Did he?" in a tone that's hot enough to burn. "Oh, there's a boy on roller skates!" cries Ma. "Now do go slow. I'm sure he doesn't see our car." And Pa says: "I dunno, I think I don't need glasses yet, but really it may be That I am blind and cannot see what's right in front of me."
If Pa should speed the car a bit some rigs to hurry past Ma whispers: "Do be careful now. You're driving much too fast." And all the time she's pointing out the dangers of the street And keeps him posted on the roads where trolley cars he'll meet. Last night when we got safely home, Pa sighed and said: "My dear, I'm sure we've all enjoyed the drive you gave us from the rear!"
ON GOING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
He little knew the sorrow that was in his vacant chair; He never guessed they'd miss him, or he'd surely have been there; He couldn't see his mother or the lump that filled her throat, Or the tears that started falling as she read his hasty note; And he couldn't see his father, sitting sorrowful and dumb, Or he never would have written that he thought he couldn't come.
He little knew the gladness that his presence would have made, And the joy it would have given, or he never would have stayed. He didn't know how hungry had the little mother grown Once again to see her baby and to claim him for her own. He didn't guess the meaning of his visit Christmas Day Or he never would have written that he couldn't get away.
He couldn't see the fading of the cheeks that once were pink, And the silver in the tresses; and he didn't stop to think How the years are passing swiftly, and next Christmas it might be There would be no home to visit and no mother dear to see. He didn't think about it—I'll not say he didn't care. He was heedless and forgetful or he'd surely have been there.
Are you going home for Christmas? Have you written you'll be there? Going home to kiss the mother and to show her that you care? Going home to greet the father in a way to make him glad? If you're not I hope there'll never come a time you'll wish you had. Just sit down and write a letter—it will make their heart strings hum With a tune of perfect gladness—if you'll tell them that you'll come.
AT SUGAR CAMP
At Sugar Camp the cook is kind And laughs the laugh we knew as boys; And there we slip away and find Awaiting us the old-time joys. The catbird calls the selfsame way She used to in the long ago, And there's a chorus all the day Of songsters it is good to know.
The killdeer in the distance cries; The thrasher, in her garb of brown, From tree to tree in gladness flies. Forgotten is the world's renown, Forgotten are the years we've known; At Sugar Camp there are no men; We've ceased to strive for things to own; We're in the woods as boys again.
Our pride is in the strength of trees, Our pomp the pomp of living things; Our ears are tuned to melodies That every feathered songster sings. At Sugar Camp our noonday meal Is eaten in the open air, Where through the leaves the sunbeams steal And simple is our bill of fare.
At Sugar Camp in peace we dwell And none is boastful of himself; None plots to gain with shot and shell His neighbor's bit of land or pelf. The roar of cannon isn't heard, There stilled is money's tempting voice; Someone detects a new-come bird And at her presence all rejoice.
At Sugar Camp the cook is kind; His steak is broiling o'er the coals And in its sputtering we find Sweet harmony for tired souls. There, sheltered by the friendly trees, As boys we sit to eat our meal, And, brothers to the birds and bees, We hold communion with the real.
It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home, A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye lef' behind, An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em allus on yer mind. It don't make any differunce how rich ye get t' be, How much yer chairs an' tables cost, how great yer luxury; It ain't home t' ye, though it be the palace of a king, Until somehow yer soul is sort o' wrapped round everything.
Home ain't a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute; Afore it's home there's got t' be a heap o' livin' in it; Within the walls there's got t' be some babies born, and then Right there ye've got t' bring 'em up t' women good, an' men; And gradjerly as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn't part With anything they ever used—they've grown into yer heart: The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore Ye hoard; an' if ye could ye'd keep the thumb-marks on the door.
Ye've got t' weep t' make it home, ye've got t' sit an' sigh An' watch beside a loved one's bed, an' know that Death is nigh; An' in the stillness o' the night t' see Death's angel come, An' close the eyes o' her that smiled, an' leave her sweet voice dumb. Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an' when yer tears are dried, Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an' sanctified; An' tuggin' at ye always are the pleasant memories O' her that was an' is no more—ye can't escape from these.
Ye've got t' sing an' dance fer years, ye've got t' romp an' play, An' learn t' love the things ye have by usin' 'em each day; Even the roses 'round the porch must blossom year by year Afore they 'come a part o' ye, suggestin' someone dear Who used t' love 'em long ago, an' trained 'em jes t' run The way they do, so's they would get the early mornin' sun; Ye've got t' love each brick an' stone from cellar up t' dome: It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home.
THE PATH THAT LEADS TO HOME
The little path that leads to home, That is the road for me, I know no finer path to roam, With finer sights to see. With thoroughfares the world is lined That lead to wonders new, But he who treads them leaves behind The tender things and true.
Oh, north and south and east and west The crowded roadways go, And sweating brow and weary breast Are all they seem to know. And mad for pleasure some are bent, And some are seeking fame, And some are sick with discontent, And some are bruised and lame.
Across the world the gleaming steel Holds out its lure for men, But no one finds his comfort real Till he comes home again. And charted lanes now line the sea For weary hearts to roam, But, Oh, the finest path to me Is that which leads to home.
'Tis there I come to laughing eyes And find a welcome true; 'Tis there all care behind me lies And joy is ever new. And, Oh, when every day is done Upon that little street, A pair of rosy youngsters run To me with flying feet.
The world with myriad paths is lined But one alone for me, One little road where I may find The charms I want to see. Though thoroughfares majestic call The multitude to roam, I would not leave, to know them all, The path that leads to home.
A FRIEND'S GREETING
I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me; I'd like to be the help that you've been always glad to be; I'd like to mean as much to you each minute of the day As you have meant, old friend of mine, to me along the way.
I'd like to do the big things and the splendid things for you, To brush the gray from out your skies and leave them only blue; I'd like to say the kindly things that I so oft have heard, And feel that I could rouse your soul the way that mine you've stirred.
I'd like to give you back the joy that you have given me, Yet that were wishing you a need I hope will never be; I'd like to make you feel as rich as I, who travel on Undaunted in the darkest hours with you to lean upon.
I'm wishing at this Christmas time that I could but repay A portion of the gladness that you've strewn along my way; And could I have one wish this year, this only would it be: I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me.
None knows the day that friends must part None knows how near is sorrow; If there be laughter in your heart, Don't hold it for to-morrow. Smile all the smiles you can to-day; Grief waits for all along the way.
To-day is ours for joy and mirth; We may be sad to-morrow; Then let us sing for all we've worth, Nor give a thought to sorrow. None knows what lies along the way; Let's smile what smiles we can to-day.
I do not say new friends are not considerate and true, Or that their smiles ain't genuine, but still I'm tellin' you That when a feller's heart is crushed and achin' with the pain, And teardrops come a-splashin' down his cheeks like summer rain, Becoz his grief an' loneliness are more than he can bear, Somehow it's only old friends, then, that really seem to care. The friends who've stuck through thick an' thin, who've known you, good an' bad, Your faults an' virtues, an' have seen the struggles you have had, When they come to you gentle-like an' take your hand an' say: "Cheer up! we're with you still," it counts, for that's the old friends' way.
The new friends may be fond of you for what you are to-day; They've only known you rich, perhaps, an' only seen you gay; You can't tell what's attracted them; your station may appeal; Perhaps they smile on you because you're doin' something real; But old friends who have seen you fail, an' also seen you win, Who've loved you either up or down, stuck to you, thick or thin, Who knew you as a budding youth, an' watched you start to climb, Through weal an' woe, still friends of yours an' constant all the time, When trouble comes an' things go wrong, I don't care what you say, They are the friends you'll turn to, for you want the old friends' way.
The new friends may be richer, an' more stylish, too, but when Your heart is achin' an' you think your sun won't shine again, It's not the riches of new friends you want, it's not their style, It's not the airs of grandeur then, it's just the old friend's smile, The old hand that has helped before, stretched out once more to you, The old words ringin' in your ears, so sweet an', Oh, so true! The tenderness of folks who know just what your sorrow means, These are the things on which, somehow, your spirit always leans. When grief is poundin' at your breast—the new friends disappear An' to the old ones tried an' true, you turn for aid an' cheer.
We was speakin' of folks, jes' common folks, An' we come to this conclusion, That wherever they be, on land or sea, They warm to a home allusion; That under the skin an' under the hide There's a spark that starts a-glowin' Whenever they look at a scene or book That something of home is showin'.
They may differ in creeds an' politics, They may argue an' even quarrel, But their throats grip tight, if they catch a sight Of their favorite elm or laurel. An' the winding lane that they used to tread With never a care to fret 'em, Or the pasture gate where they used to wait, Right under the skin will get 'em.
Now folks is folks on their different ways, With their different griefs an' pleasures, But the home they knew, when their years were few, Is the dearest of all their treasures. An' the richest man to the poorest waif Right under the skin is brother When they stand an' sigh, with a tear-dimmed eye, At a thought of the dear old mother.
It makes no difference where it may be, Nor the fortunes that years may alter, Be they simple or wise, the old home ties Make all of 'em often falter. Time may robe 'em in sackcloth coarse Or garb 'em in gorgeous splendor, But whatever their lot, they keep one spot Down deep that is sweet an' tender.
We was speakin' of folks, jes' common folks, An' we come to this conclusion, That one an' all, be they great or small, Will warm to a home allusion; That under the skin an' the beaten hide They're kin in a real affection For the joys they knew, when their years were few, An' the home of their recollection.
LITTLE MASTER MISCHIEVOUS
Little Master Mischievous, that's the name for you; There's no better title that describes the things you do: Into something all the while where you shouldn't be, Prying into matters that are not for you to see; Little Master Mischievous, order's overthrown If your mother leaves you for a minute all alone.
Little Master Mischievous, opening every door, Spilling books and papers round about the parlor floor, Scratching all the tables and marring all the chairs, Climbing where you shouldn't climb and tumbling down the stairs. How'd you get the ink well? We can never guess. Now the rug is ruined; so's your little dress.
Little Master Mischievous, in the cookie jar, Who has ever told you where the cookies are? Now your sticky fingers smear the curtains white; You have finger-printed everything in sight. There's no use in scolding; when you smile that way You can rob of terror every word we say.
Little Master Mischievous, that's the name for you; There's no better title that describes the things you do: Prying into corners, peering into nooks, Tugging table covers, tearing costly books. Little Master Mischievous, have your roguish way; Time, I know, will stop you, soon enough some day.
So long as men shall be on earth There will be tasks for them to do, Some way for them to show their worth; Each day shall bring its problems new.
And men shall dream of mightier deeds Than ever have been done before: There always shall be human needs For men to work and struggle for.
THE SORROW TUGS
There's a lot of joy in the smiling world, there's plenty of morning sun, And laughter and songs and dances, too, whenever the day's work's done; Full many an hour is a shining one, when viewed by itself apart, But the golden threads in the warp of life are the sorrow tugs at your heart.
Oh, the fun is froth and it blows away, and many a joy's forgot, And the pleasures come and the pleasures go, and memory holds them not; But treasured ever you keep the pain that causes your tears to start, For the sweetest hours are the ones that bring the sorrow tugs at your heart.
The lump in your throat and the little sigh when your baby trudged away The very first time to the big red school—how long will their memory stay? The fever days and the long black nights you watched as she troubled, slept, And the joy you felt when she smiled once more—how long will that all be kept?
The glad hours live in a feeble way, but the sad ones never die. His first long trousers caused a pang and you saw them with a sigh. And the big still house when the boy and girl, unto youth and beauty grown, To college went; will you e'er forget that first grim hour alone?
It seems as you look back over things, that all that you treasure dear Is somehow blent in a wondrous way with a heart pang and a tear. Though many a day is a joyous one when viewed by itself apart, The golden threads in the warp of life are the sorrow tugs at your heart.
ONLY A DAD
Only a dad with a tired face, Coming home from the daily race, Bringing little of gold or fame To show how well he has played the game; But glad in his heart that his own rejoice To see him come and to hear his voice.
Only a dad with a brood of four, One of ten million men or more Plodding along in the daily strife, Bearing the whips and the scorns of life, With never a whimper of pain or hate, For the sake of those who at home await.
Only a dad, neither rich nor proud, Merely one of the surging crowd, Toiling, striving from day to day, Facing whatever may come his way, Silent whenever the harsh condemn, And bearing it all for the love of them.
Only a dad but he gives his all, To smooth the way for his children small, Doing with courage stern and grim The deeds that his father did for him. This is the line that for him I pen: Only a dad, but the best of men.
I'm not the man to say that failure's sweet, Nor tell a chap to laugh when things go wrong; I know it hurts to have to take defeat An' no one likes to lose before a throng; It isn't very pleasant not to win When you have done the very best you could; But if you're down, get up an' buckle in— A lickin' often does a fellow good.
I've seen some chaps who never knew their power Until somebody knocked 'em to the floor; I've known men who discovered in an hour A courage they had never shown before. I've seen 'em rise from failure to the top By doin' things they hadn't understood Before the day disaster made 'em drop— A lickin' often does a fellow good.
Success is not the teacher, wise an' true, That gruff old failure is, remember that; She's much too apt to make a fool of you, Which isn't true of blows that knock you flat. Hard knocks are painful things an' hard to bear, An' most of us would dodge 'em if we could; There's something mighty broadening in care— A lickin' often does a fellow good.
SPRING IN THE TRENCHES
It's coming time for planting in that little patch of ground, Where the lad and I made merry as he followed me around; Now the sun is getting higher, and the skies above are blue, And I'm hungry for the garden, and I wish the war was through. But it's tramp, tramp, tramp, And it's never look behind, And when you see a stranger's kids Pretend that you are blind.
The spring is coming back again, the birds begin to mate; The skies are full of kindness, but the world is full of hate. And it's I that should be bending now in peace above the soil With laughing eyes and little hands about to bless the toil. But it's fight, fight, fight, And it's charge at double-quick; A soldier thinking thoughts of home Is one more soldier sick.
Last year I brought the bulbs to bloom and saw the roses bud; This year I'm ankle deep in mire, and most of it is blood. Last year the mother in the door was glad as she could be; To-day her heart is full of pain, and mine is hurting me. But it's shoot, shoot, shoot, And when the bullets hiss, Don't let the tears fill up your eyes, For weeping soldiers miss.
Oh, who will tend the roses now and who will sow the seeds? And who will do the heavy work the little garden needs? And who will tell the lad of mine the things he wants to know, And take his hand and lead him round the paths we used to go? For it's charge, charge, charge, And it's face the foe once more; Forget the things you love the most And keep your mind on gore.
Used to wonder just why father Never had much time for play, Used to wonder why he'd rather Work each minute of the day. Used to wonder why he never Loafed along the road an' shirked; Can't recall a time whenever Father played while others worked.
Father didn't dress in fashion, Sort of hated clothing new; Style with him was not a passion; He had other things in view. Boys are blind to much that's going On about 'em day by day, And I had no way of knowing What became of father's pay.
All I knew was when I needed Shoes I got 'em on the spot; Everything for which I pleaded, Somehow, father always got. Wondered, season after season, Why he never took a rest, And that I might be the reason Then I never even guessed.
Father set a store on knowledge; If he'd lived to have his way He'd have sent me off to college And the bills been glad to pay. That, I know, was his ambition: Now and then he used to say He'd have done his earthly mission On my graduation day.
Saw his cheeks were getting paler, Didn't understand just why; Saw his body growing frailer, Then at last I saw him die. Rest had come! His tasks were ended, Calm was written on his brow; Father's life was big and splendid, And I understand it now.
Show me the boy who never threw A stone at someone's cat, Or never hurled a snowball swift At someone's high silk hat— Who never ran away from school, To seek the swimming hole, Or slyly from a neighbor's yard Green apples never stole—
Show me the boy who never broke A pane of window glass, Who never disobeyed the sign That says: "Keep off the grass." Who never did a thousand things, That grieve us sore to tell, And I'll show you a little boy Who must be far from well.
THE LIVING BEAUTIES
I never knew, until they went, How much their laughter really meant I never knew how much the place Depended on each little face; How barren home could be and drear Without its living beauties here.
I never knew that chairs and books Could wear such sad and solemn looks! That rooms and halls could be at night So still and drained of all delight. This home is now but brick and board Where bits of furniture are stored.
I used to think I loved each shelf And room for what it was itself. And once I thought each picture fine Because I proudly called it mine. But now I know they mean no more Than art works hanging in a store.
Until they went away to roam I never knew what made it home. But I have learned that all is base, However wonderful the place And decked with costly treasures, rare, Unless the living joys are there.
AT BREAKFAST TIME
My Pa he eats his breakfast in a funny sort of way: We hardly ever see him at the first meal of the day. Ma puts his food before him and he settles in his place An' then he props the paper up and we can't see his face; We hear him blow his coffee and we hear him chew his toast, But it's for the morning paper that he seems to care the most.
Ma says that little children mighty grateful ought to be To the folks that fixed the evening as the proper time for tea. She says if meals were only served to people once a day, An' that was in the morning just before Pa goes away, We'd never know how father looked when he was in his place, Coz he'd always have the morning paper stuck before his face.
He drinks his coffee steamin' hot, an' passes Ma his cup To have it filled a second time, an' never once looks up. He never has a word to say, but just sits there an' reads, An' when she sees his hand stuck out Ma gives him what he needs. She guesses what it is he wants, coz it's no use to ask: Pa's got to read his paper an' sometimes that's quite a task.
One morning we had breakfast an' his features we could see, But his face was long an' solemn an' he didn't speak to me, An' we couldn't get him laughin' an' we couldn't make him smile, An' he said the toast was soggy an' the coffee simply vile. Then Ma said: "What's the matter? Why are you so cross an' glum?" An' Pa 'most took her head off coz the paper didn't come.
Can't is the worst word that's written or spoken; Doing more harm here than slander and lies; On it is many a strong spirit broken, And with it many a good purpose dies. It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning And robs us of courage we need through the day: It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.
Can't is the father of feeble endeavor, The parent of terror and half-hearted work; It weakens the efforts of artisans clever, And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk. It poisons the soul of the man with a vision, It stifles in infancy many a plan; It greets honest toiling with open derision And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.
Can't is a word none should speak without blushing; To utter it should be a symbol of shame; Ambition and courage it daily is crushing; It blights a man's purpose and shortens his aim. Despise it with all of your hatred of error; Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain; Arm against it as a creature of terror, And all that you dream of you some day shall gain.
Can't is the word that is foe to ambition, An enemy ambushed to shatter your will; Its prey is forever the man with a mission And bows but to courage and patience and skill. Hate it, with hatred that's deep and undying, For once it is welcomed 'twill break any man; Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying And answer this demon by saying: "I can."
JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
Written July 22, 1916, when the world lost its "Poet of Childhood."
There must be great rejoicin' on the Golden Shore to-day, An' the big an' little angels must be feelin' mighty gay: Could we look beyond the curtain now I fancy we should see Old Aunt Mary waitin', smilin', for the coming that's to be, An' Little Orphant Annie an' the whole excited pack Dancin' up an' down an' shoutin': "Mr. Riley's comin' back!"
There's a heap o' real sadness in this good old world to-day; There are lumpy throats this morning now that Riley's gone away; There's a voice now stilled forever that in sweetness only spoke An' whispered words of courage with a faith that never broke. There is much of joy and laughter that we mortals here will lack, But the angels must be happy now that Riley's comin' back.
The world was gettin' dreary, there was too much sigh an' frown In this vale o' mortal strivin', so God sent Jim Riley down, An' He said: "Go there an' cheer 'em in your good old-fashioned way, With your songs of tender sweetness, but don't make your plans to stay, Coz you're needed up in Heaven. I am lendin' you to men Just to help 'em with your music, but I'll want you back again."
An' Riley came, an' mortals heard the music of his voice An' they caught his songs o' beauty an' they started to rejoice; An' they leaned on him in sorrow, an' they shared with him their joys, An' they walked with him the pathways that they knew when they were boys. But the heavenly angels missed him, missed his tender, gentle knack Of makin' people happy, an' they wanted Riley back.
There must be great rejoicin' on the streets of Heaven to-day An' all the angel children must be troopin' down the way, Singin' heavenly songs of welcome an' preparin' now to greet The soul that God had tinctured with an ever-lasting sweet; The world is robed in sadness an' is draped in sombre black; But joy must reign in Heaven now that Riley's comin' back.
RESULTS AND ROSES
The man who wants a garden fair, Or small or very big, With flowers growing here and there, Must bend his back and dig.
The things are mighty few on earth That wishes can attain. Whate'er we want of any worth We've got to work to gain.
It matters not what goal you seek Its secret here reposes: You've got to dig from week to week To get Results or Roses.
THE OTHER FELLOW
Are you fond of your wife and your children fair? So is the other fellow. Do you crave pleasures for them to share? So does the other fellow. Does your heart rejoice when your own are glad? And are you troubled when they are sad? Well, it's that way, too, in this life, my lad, That way with the other fellow.
Do you want the best for your own to know? So does the other fellow. Do you stoop to kiss them before you go? So does the other fellow. When your baby lies on a fevered bed, Does your heart run cold with a silent dread? Well, it's that way, too, where all mortals tread— That way with the other fellow.
Does it hurt when they want what you cannot buy? It does with the other fellow. Do you for their comfort yourself deny? So does the other fellow. Would you wail aloud if your babe should die For the lack of care you could not supply? Well, it's that way, too, as he travels by, That way with the other fellow.
OUR DUTY TO OUR FLAG
Less hate and greed Is what we need And more of service true; More men to love The flag above And keep it first in view.
Less boast and brag About the flag, More faith in what it means; More heads erect, More self-respect, Less talk of war machines.
The time to fight To keep it bright Is not along the way, Nor 'cross the foam, But here at home Within ourselves—to-day.
'Tis we must love That flag above With all our might and main; For from our hands, Not distant lands, Shall come dishonor's stain.
If that flag be Dishonored, we Have done it, not the foe; If it shall fall We first of all Shall be to strike a blow.
Cheek that is tanned to the wind of the north. Body that jests at the bite of the cold, Limbs that are eager and strong to go forth Into the wilds and the ways of the bold; Red blood that pulses and throbs in the veins, Ears that love silences better than noise; Strength of the forest and health of the plains; These the rewards that the hunter enjoys.
Forests were ever the cradles of men; Manhood is born of a kinship with trees. Whence shall come brave hearts and stout muscles, when Woods have made way for our cities of ease? Oh, do you wonder that stalwarts return Yearly to hark to the whispering oaks? 'Tis for the brave days of old that they yearn: These are the splendors the hunter invokes.
It's September, and the orchards are afire with red and gold, And the nights with dew are heavy, and the morning's sharp with cold; Now the garden's at its gayest with the salvia blazing red And the good old-fashioned asters laughing at us from their bed; Once again in shoes and stockings are the children's little feet, And the dog now does his snoozing on the bright side of the street.
It's September, and the cornstalks are as high as they will go, And the red cheeks of the apples everywhere begin to show; Now the supper's scarcely over ere the darkness settles down And the moon looms big and yellow at the edges of the town; Oh, it's good to see the children, when their little prayers are said, Duck beneath the patchwork covers when they tumble into bed.
It's September, and a calmness and a sweetness seem to fall Over everything that's living, just as though it hears the call Of Old Winter, trudging slowly, with his pack of ice and snow, In the distance over yonder, and it somehow seems as though Every tiny little blossom wants to look its very best When the frost shall bite its petals and it droops away to rest.
It's September! It's the fullness and the ripeness of the year; All the work of earth is finished, or the final tasks are near, But there is no doleful wailing; every living thing that grows, For the end that is approaching wears the finest garb it knows. And I pray that I may proudly hold my head up high and smile When I come to my September in the golden afterwhile.
HOW DO YOU TACKLE YOUR WORK?
How do you tackle your work each day? Are you scared of the job you find? Do you grapple the task that comes your way With a confident, easy mind? Do you stand right up to the work ahead Or fearfully pause to view it? Do you start to toil with a sense of dread Or feel that you're going to do it?
You can do as much as you think you can, But you'll never accomplish more; If you're afraid of yourself, young man, There's little for you in store. For failure comes from the inside first, It's there if we only knew it, And you can win, though you face the worst, If you feel that you're going to do it.
Success! It's found in the soul of you, And not in the realm of luck! The world will furnish the work to do, But you must provide the pluck. You can do whatever you think you can, It's all in the way you view it. It's all in the start that you make, young man: You must feel that you're going to do it.
How do you tackle your work each day? With confidence clear, or dread? What to yourself do you stop and say When a new task lies ahead? What is the thought that is in your mind? Is fear ever running through it? If so, just tackle the next you find By thinking you're going to do it.
Life is a gift to be used every day, Not to be smothered and hidden away; It isn't a thing to be stored in the chest Where you gather your keepsakes and treasure your best; It isn't a joy to be sipped now and then And promptly put back in a dark place again.
Life is a gift that the humblest may boast of And one that the humblest may well make the most of. Get out and live it each hour of the day, Wear it and use it as much as you may; Don't keep it in niches and corners and grooves, You'll find that in service its beauty improves.
Most every night when they're in bed, And both their little prayers have said, They shout for me to come upstairs And tell them tales of gypsies bold, And eagles with the claws that hold A baby's weight, and fairy sprites That roam the woods on starry nights.
And I must illustrate these tales, Must imitate the northern gales That toss the Indian's canoe, And show the way he paddles, too. If in the story comes a bear, I have to pause and sniff the air And show the way he climbs the trees To steal the honey from the bees.
And then I buzz like angry bees And sting him on his nose and knees And howl in pain, till mother cries: "That pair will never shut their eyes, While all that noise up there you make; You're simply keeping them awake." And then they whisper: "Just one more," And once again I'm forced to roar.
New stories every night they ask. And that is not an easy task; I have to be so many things, The frog that croaks, the lark that sings, The cunning fox, the frightened hen; But just last night they stumped me, when They wanted me to twist and squirm And imitate an angle worm.
At last they tumble off to sleep, And softly from their room I creep And brush and comb the shock of hair I tossed about to be a bear. Then mother says: "Well, I should say You're just as much a child as they." But you can bet I'll not resign That story telling job of mine.
There's a wondrous smell of spices In the kitchen, Most bewitchin'; There are fruits cut into slices That just set the palate itchin'; There's the sound of spoon on platter And the rattle and the clatter; And a bunch of kids are hastin' To the splendid joy of tastin': It's the fragrant time of year When fruit-cannin' days are here.
There's a good wife gayly smilin' And perspirin' Some, and tirin'; And while jar on jar she's pilin' And the necks o' them she's wirin' I'm a-sittin' here an' dreamin' Of the kettles that are steamin', And the cares that have been troublin' All have vanished in the bubblin'. I am happy that I'm here At the cannin' time of year.
Lord, I'm sorry for the feller That is missin' All the hissin' Of the juices, red and yeller,
And can never sit and listen To the rattle and the clatter Of the sound of spoon on platter. I am sorry for the single, For they miss the thrill and tingle Of the splendid time of year When the cannin' days are here.
THE DULL ROAD
It's the dull road that leads to the gay road; The practice that leads to success; The work road that leads to the play road; It is trouble that breeds happiness.
It's the hard work and merciless grinding That purchases glory and fame; It's repeatedly doing, nor minding The drudgery drear of the game.
It's the passing up glamor or pleasure For the sake of the skill we may gain, And in giving up comfort or leisure For the joy that we hope to attain.
It's the hard road of trying and learning, Of toiling, uncheered and alone, That wins us the prizes worth earning, And leads us to goals we would own.
THE APPLE TREE
When an apple tree is ready for the world to come and eat, There isn't any structure in the land that's "got it beat." There's nothing man has builded with the beauty or the charm That can touch the simple grandeur of the monarch of the farm. There's never any picture from a human being's brush That has ever caught the redness of a single apple's blush.
When an apple tree's in blossom it is glorious to see, But that's just a hint, at springtime, of the better things to be; That is just a fairy promise from the Great Magician's wand Of the wonders and the splendors that are waiting just beyond The distant edge of summer; just a forecast of the treat When the apple tree is ready for the world to come and eat.
Architects of splendid vision long have labored on the earth, And have raised their dreams in marble and we've marveled at their worth; Long the spires of costly churches have looked upward at the sky; Rich in promise and in the beauty, they have cheered the passer-by. But I'm sure there's nothing finer for the eye of man to meet Than an apple tree that's ready for the world to come and eat.
There's the promise of the apples, red and gleaming in the sun, Like the medals worn by mortals as rewards for labors done; And the big arms stretched wide open, with a welcome warm and true In a way that sets you thinking it's intended just for you. There is nothing with a beauty so entrancing, so complete, As an apple tree that's ready for the world to come and eat.
Some folks leave home for money And some leave home for fame, Some seek skies always sunny, And some depart in shame. I care not what the reason Men travel east and west, Or what the month or season— The home-town is the best.
The home-town is the glad town Where something real abides; 'Tis not the money-mad town That all its spirit hides. Though strangers scoff and flout it And even jeer its name, It has a charm about it No other town can claim.
The home-town skies seem bluer Than skies that stretch away, The home-town friends seem truer And kinder through the day; And whether glum or cheery Light-hearted or depressed, Or struggle-fit or weary, I like the home-town best.
Let him who will, go wander To distant towns to live, Of some things I am fonder Than all they have to give. The gold of distant places Could not repay me quite For those familiar faces That keep the home-town bright.
TAKE HOME A SMILE
Take home a smile; forget the petty cares, The dull, grim grind of all the day's affairs; The day is done, come be yourself awhile: To-night, to those who wait, take home a smile.
Take home a smile; don't scatter grief and gloom Where laughter and light hearts should always bloom; What though you've traveled many a dusty mile, Footsore and weary, still take home a smile.
Take home a smile—it is not much to do, But much it means to them who wait for you; You can be brave for such a little while; The day of doubt is done—take home a smile.
Courage isn't a brilliant dash, A daring deed in a moment's flash; It isn't an instantaneous thing Born of despair with a sudden spring It isn't a creature of flickered hope Or the final tug at a slipping rope; But it's something deep in the soul of man That is working always to serve some plan.
Courage isn't the last resort In the work of life or the game of sport; It isn't a thing that a man can call At some future time when he's apt to fall; If he hasn't it now, he will have it not When the strain is great and the pace is hot. For who would strive for a distant goal Must always have courage within his soul.
Courage isn't a dazzling light That flashes and passes away from sight; It's a slow, unwavering, ingrained trait With the patience to work and the strength to wait. It's part of a man when his skies are blue, It's part of him when he has work to do. The brave man never is freed of it. He has it when there is no need of it.
Courage was never designed for show; It isn't a thing that can come and go; It's written in victory and defeat And every trial a man may meet. It's part of his hours, his days and his years, Back of his smiles and behind his tears. Courage is more than a daring deed: It's the breath of life and a strong man's creed.
We can be great by helping one another; We can be loved for very simple deeds; Who has the grateful mention of a brother Has really all the honor that he needs.
We can be famous for our works of kindness— Fame is not born alone of strength or skill; It sometimes comes from deafness and from blindness To petty words and faults, and loving still.
We can be rich in gentle smiles and sunny: A jeweled soul exceeds a royal crown. The richest men sometimes have little money, And Croesus oft's the poorest man in town.
I've sipped a rich man's sparkling wine, His silverware I've handled. I've placed these battered legs of mine 'Neath tables gayly candled. I dine on rare and costly fare Whene'er good fortune lets me, But there's no meal that can compare With those the missus gets me.
I've had your steaks three inches thick With all your Sam Ward trimming, I've had the breast of milk-fed chick In luscious gravy swimming. To dine in swell cafe or club But irritates and frets me; Give me the plain and wholesome grub— The grub the missus gets me.
Two kiddies smiling at the board, The cook right at the table, The four of us, a hungry horde, To beat that none is able. A big meat pie, with flaky crust! 'Tis then that joy besets me; Oh, I could eat until I "bust," Those meals the missus gets me.
THE GENTLE GARDENER
I'd like to leave but daffodills to mark my little way, To leave but tulips red and white behind me as I stray; I'd like to pass away from earth and feel I'd left behind But roses and forget-me-nots for all who come to find.
I'd like to sow the barren spots with all the flowers of earth, To leave a path where those who come should find but gentle mirth; And when at last I'm called upon to join the heavenly throng I'd like to feel along my way I'd left no sign of wrong.
And yet the cares are many and the hours of toil are few; There is not time enough on earth for all I'd like to do; But, having lived and having toiled, I'd like the world to find Some little touch of beauty that my soul had left behind.
THE FINEST AGE
When he was only nine months old, And plump and round and pink of cheek, A joy to tickle and to hold, Before he'd even learned to speak, His gentle mother used to say: "It is too bad that he must grow. If I could only have my way His baby ways we'd always know."
And then the year was turned, and he Began to toddle round the floor And name the things that he could see And soil the dresses that he wore. Then many a night she whispered low: "Our baby now is such a joy I hate to think that he must grow To be a wild and heedless boy."
But on he went and sweeter grew, And then his mother, I recall, Wished she could keep him always two, For that's the finest age of all. She thought the selfsame thing at three, And now that he is four, she sighs To think he cannot always be The youngster with the laughing eyes.
Oh, little boy, my wish is not Always to keep you four years old. Each night I stand beside your cot And think of what the years may hold; And looking down on you I pray That when we've lost our baby small, The mother of our man will say "This is the finest age of all."
SUCCESS AND FAILURE
I do not think all failure's undeserved, And all success is merely someone's luck; Some men are down because they were unnerved, And some are up because they kept their pluck. Some men are down because they chose to shirk; Some men are high because they did their work.
I do not think that all the poor are good, That riches are the uniform of shame; The beggar might have conquered if he would, And that he begs, the world is not to blame. Misfortune is not all that comes to mar; Most men, themselves, have shaped the things they are.
The skies are blue and the sun is out and the grass is green and soft And the old charm's back in the apple tree and it calls a boy aloft; And the same low voice that the old don't hear, but the care-free youngsters do, Is calling them to the fields and streams and the joys that once I knew. And if youth be wild desire for play and care is the mark of men, Beneath the skin that Time has tanned I'm a madcap youngster then.
Far richer than king with his crown of gold and his heavy weight of care Is the sunburned boy with his stone-bruised feet and his tousled shock of hair; For the king can hear but the cry of hate or the sickly sound of praise, And lost to him are the voices sweet that called in his boyhood days. Far better than ruler, with pomp and power and riches, is it to be The urchin gay in his tattered clothes that is climbing the apple tree.
Oh, once I heard all the calls that come to the quick, glad ears of boys, And a certain spot on the river bank told me of its many joys, And certain fields and certain trees were loyal friends to me, And I knew the birds, and I owned a dog, and we both could hear and see. Oh, never from tongues of men have dropped such messages wholly glad As the things that live in the great outdoors once told to a little lad.
And I'm sorry for him who cannot hear what the tall trees have to say, Who is deaf to the call of a running stream and the lanes that lead to play. The boy that shins up the faithful elm or sprawls on a river bank Is more richly blessed with the joys of life than any old man of rank. For youth is the golden time of life, and this battered old heart of mine Beats fast to the march of its old-time joys, when the sun begins to shine.
MY PAW SAID SO
Foxes can talk if you know how to listen, My Paw said so. Owls have big eyes that sparkle an' glisten, My Paw said so. Bears can turn flip-flaps an' climb ellum trees, An' steal all the honey away from the bees, An' they never mind winter becoz they don't freeze; My Paw said so.
Girls is a-scared of a snake, but boys ain't, My Paw said so. They holler an' run; an' sometimes they faint, My Paw said so. But boys would be 'shamed to be frightened that way When all that the snake wants to do is to play; You've got to believe every word that I say, My Paw said so.
Wolves ain't so bad if you treat 'em all right, My Paw said so. They're as fond of a game as they are of a fight, My Paw said so. An' all of the animals found in the wood Ain't always ferocious. Most times they are good.
The trouble is mostly they're misunderstood, My Paw said so. You can think what you like, but I stick to it when My Paw said so. An' I'll keep right on sayin', again an' again, My Paw said so. Maybe foxes don't talk to such people as you, An' bears never show you the tricks they can do, But I know that the stories I'm tellin' are true, My Paw said so.
Right must not live in idleness, Nor dwell in smug content; It must be strong, against the throng Of foes, on evil bent.
Justice must not a weakling be But it must guard its own, And live each day, that none can say Justice is overthrown.
Peace, the sweet glory of the world, Faces a duty, too; Death is her fate, leaves she one gate For war to enter through.
THE PEACEFUL WARRIORS
Let others sing their songs of war And chant their hymns of splendid death, Let others praise the soldiers' ways And hail the cannon's flaming breath. Let others sing of Glory's fields Where blood for Victory is paid, I choose to sing some simple thing To those who wield not gun or blade— The peaceful warriors of trade.
Let others choose the deeds of war For symbols of our nation's skill, The blood-red coat, the rattling throat, The regiment that charged the hill, The boy who died to serve the flag, Who heard the order and obeyed, But leave to me the gallantry Of those who labor unafraid— The peaceful warriors of trade.
Aye, let me sing the splendid deeds Of those who toil to serve mankind, The men who break old ways and make New paths for those who come behind. And face their problems, unafraid, Who think and plan to lift for man The burden that on him is laid— The splendid warriors of trade.
I sing of battles with disease And victories o'er death and pain, Of ships that fly the summer sky, And glorious deeds of strength and brain. The call for help that rings through space By which a vessel's course is stayed, Thrills me far more than fields of gore, Or heroes decked in golden braid— I sing the warriors of trade.
'Tis better to have tried in vain, Sincerely striving for a goal, Than to have lived upon the plain An idle and a timid soul.
'Tis better to have fought and spent Your courage, missing all applause, Than to have lived in smug content And never ventured for a cause.
For he who tries and fails may be The founder of a better day; Though never his the victory, From him shall others learn the way.
There's a heap of pent-up goodness in the yellow bantam corn, And I sort o' like to linger round a berry patch at morn; Oh, the Lord has set our table with a stock o' things to eat An' there's just enough o' bitter in the blend to cut the sweet, But I run the whole list over, an' it seems somehow that I Find the keenest sort o' pleasure in a chunk o' raisin pie.
There are pies that start the water circulatin' in the mouth; There are pies that wear the flavor of the warm an' sunny south; Some with oriental spices spur the drowsy appetite An' just fill a fellow's being with a thrill o' real delight; But for downright solid goodness that comes drippin' from the sky There is nothing quite the equal of a chunk o' raisin pie.
I'm admittin' tastes are diff'runt, I'm not settin' up myself As the judge an' final critic of the good things on the shelf. I'm sort o' payin' tribute to a simple joy on earth, Sort o' feebly testifyin' to its lasting charm an' worth, An' I'll hold to this conclusion till it comes my time to die, That there's no dessert that's finer than a chunk o' raisin pie.
If never a sorrow came to us, and never a care we knew; If every hope were realized, and every dream came true; If only joy were found on earth, and no one ever sighed, And never a friend proved false to us, and never a loved one died, And never a burden bore us down, soul-sick and weary, too, We'd yearn for tests to prove our worth and tasks for us to do.
THE READY ARTISTS
The green is in the meadow and the blue is in the sky, And all of Nature's artists have their colors handy by; With a few days bright with sunshine and a few nights free from frost They will start to splash their colors quite regardless of the cost. There's an artist waiting ready at each bleak and dismal spot To paint the flashing tulip or the meek forget-me-not.
May is lurking in the distance and her lap is filled with flowers, And the choicest of her blossoms very shortly will be ours. There is not a lane so dreary or a field so dark with gloom But that soon will be resplendent with its little touch of bloom. There's an artist keen and eager to make beautiful each scene And remove with colors gorgeous every trace of of what has been.
Oh, the world is now in mourning; round about us all are spread The ruins and the symbols of the winter that is dead. But the bleak and barren picture very shortly now will pass, For the halls of life are ready for their velvet rugs of grass; And the painters now are waiting with their magic to replace This dullness with a beauty that no mortal hand can trace.
The green is in the meadow and the blue is in the sky; The chill of death is passing, life will shortly greet the eye. We shall revel soon in colors only Nature's artists make And the humblest plant that's sleeping unto beauty shall awake. For there's not a leaf forgotten, not a twig neglected there, And the tiniest of pansies shall the royal purple wear.
THE HAPPIEST DAYS
You do not know it, little man, In your summer coat of tan And your legs bereft of hose And your peeling, sunburned nose, With a stone bruise on your toe, Almost limping as you go Running on your way to play Through another summer day, Friend of birds and streams and trees, That your happiest days are these.
Little do you think to-day, As you hurry to your play, That a lot of us, grown old In the chase for fame and gold, Watch you as you pass along Gayly whistling bits of song, And in envy sit and dream Of a long-neglected stream, Where long buried are the joys We possessed when we were boys.
Little chap, you cannot guess All your sum of happiness; Little value do you place On your sunburned freckled face; And if some shrewd fairy came Offering sums of gold and fame For your summer days of play, You would barter them away And believe that you had made There and then a clever trade.
Time was we were boys like you, Bare of foot and sunburned, too, And, like you, we never guessed All the riches we possessed; We'd have traded them back then For the hollow joys of men; We'd have given them all to be Rich and wise and forty-three. For life never teaches boys Just how precious are their joys.
Youth has fled and we are old. Some of us have fame and gold; Some of us are sorely scarred, For the way of age is hard; And we envy, little man, You your splendid coat of tan, Envy you your treasures rare, Hours of joy beyond compare; For we know, by teaching stern, All that some day you must learn.
THE REAL BAIT
To gentle ways I am inclined; I have no wish to kill. To creatures dumb I would be kind; I like them all, but still Right now I think I'd like to be Beside some rippling brook, And grab a worm I'd brought with me And slip him on a hook.
I'd like to put my hand once more Into a rusty can And turn those squirmy creatures o'er Like nuggets in a pan; And for a big one, once again, With eager eyes I'd look, As did a boy I knew, and then Impale it on a hook.
I've had my share of fishing joy, I've fished with patent bait, With chub and minnow, but the boy Is lord of sport's estate. And no such pleasure comes to man So rare as when he took A worm from a tomato can And slipped it on a hook.
I'd like to gaze with glowing eyes Upon that precious bait, To view each fat worm as a prize To be accounted great. And though I've passed from boyhood's term, And opened age's book, I still would like to put a worm That wriggled on a hook.
Who does his task from day to day And meets whatever comes his way, Believing God has willed it so, Has found real greatness here below.
Who guards his post, no matter where, Believing God must need him there, Although but lowly toil it be, Has risen to nobility.
For great and low there's but one test: 'Tis that each man shall do his best. Who works with all the strength he can Shall never die in debt to man.
The world's too busy now to pause To listen to a whiner's cause; It has no time to stop and pet The sulker in a peevish fret, Who wails he'll neither work nor play Because things haven't gone his way.
The world keeps plodding right along And gives its favors right or wrong To all who have the grit to work Regardless of the fool or shirk. The world says this to every man: "Go out and do the best you can."
The world's too busy to implore The beaten one to try once more; 'Twill help him if he wants to rise, And boost him if he bravely tries, And shows determination grim; But it won't stop to baby him.
The world is occupied with men Who fall but quickly rise again; But those who whine because they're hit And step aside to sulk a bit Are doomed some day to wake and find The world has left them far behind.
Not for the sake of the gold, Not for the sake of the fame, Not for the prize would I hold Any ambition or aim: I would be brave and be true Just for the good I can do.
I would be useful on earth, Serving some purpose or cause, Doing some labor of worth, Giving no thought to applause. Thinking less of the gold or the fame Than the joy and the thrill of the game.
Medals their brightness may lose, Fame be forgotten or fade, Any reward we may choose Leaves the account still unpaid. But little real happiness lies In fighting alone for a prize.
Give me the thrill of the task, The joy of the battle and strife, Of being of use, and I'll ask No greater reward from this life. Better than fame or applause Is striving to further a cause.
I've told about the times that Ma can't find her pocketbook, And how we have to hustle round for it to help her look, But there's another care we know that often comes our way, I guess it happens easily a dozen times a day. It starts when first the postman through the door a letter passes, And Ma says: "Goodness gracious me! Wherever are my glasses?"
We hunt 'em on the mantelpiece an' by the kitchen sink, Until Ma says: "Now, children, stop, an' give me time to think Just when it was I used 'em last an' just exactly where. Yes, now I know—the dining room. I'm sure you'll find 'em there." We even look behind the clock, we busy boys an' lasses, Until somebody runs across Ma's missing pair of glasses.
We've found 'em in the Bible, an' we've found 'em in the flour, We've found 'em in the sugar bowl, an' once we looked an hour Before we came across 'em in the padding of her chair; An' many a time we've found 'em in the topknot of her hair. It's a search that ruins order an' the home completely wrecks, For there's no place where you may not find poor Ma's elusive specs.
But we're mighty glad, I tell you, that the duty's ours to do, An' we hope to hunt those glasses till our time of life is through; It's a little bit of service that is joyous in its thrill, It's a task that calls us daily an' we hope it always will. Rich or poor, the saddest mortals of all the joyless masses Are the ones who have no mother dear to lose her reading glasses.
THE PRINCESS PAT'S
Written when the Canadian regiment known as the "Princess Pat's," left for the front.
A touch of the plain and the prairie, A bit of the Motherland, too; A strain of the fur-trapper wary, A blend of the old and the new; A bit of the pioneer splendor That opened the wilderness' flats, A touch of the home-lover, tender, You'll find in the boys they call Pat's.
The glory and grace of the maple, The strength that is born of the wheat, The pride of a stock that is staple, The bronze of a midsummer heat; A blending of wisdom and daring, The best of a new land, and that's The regiment gallantly bearing The neat little title of Pat's.
A bit of the man who has neighbored With mountains and forests and streams, A touch of the man who has labored To model and fashion his dreams; The strength of an age of clean living, Of right-minded fatherly chats, The best that a land could be giving Is there in the breasts of the Pat's.
BE A FRIEND
Be a friend. You don't need money; Just a disposition sunny; Just the wish to help another Get along some way or other; Just a kindly hand extended Out to one who's unbefriended; Just the will to give or lend, This will make you someone's friend.
Be a friend. You don't need glory. Friendship is a simple story. Pass by trifling errors blindly, Gaze on honest effort kindly, Cheer the youth who's bravely trying, Pity him who's sadly sighing; Just a little labor spend On the duties of a friend.
Be a friend. The pay is bigger (Though not written by a figure) Than is earned by people clever In what's merely self-endeavor. You'll have friends instead of neighbors For the profits of your labors; You'll be richer in the end Than a prince, if you're a friend.
Thankful for the glory of the old Red, White and Blue, For the spirit of America that still is staunch and true, For the laughter of our children and the sunlight in their eyes, And the joy of radiant mothers and their evening lullabies; And thankful that our harvests wear no taint of blood to-day, But were sown and reaped by toilers who were light of heart and gay.
Thankful for the riches that are ours to claim and keep, The joy of honest labor and the boon of happy sleep, For each little family circle where there is no empty chair Save where God has sent the sorrow for the loving hearts to bear; And thankful for the loyal souls and brave hearts of the past Who builded that contentment should be with us to the last.
Thankful for the plenty that our peaceful land has blessed, For the rising sun that beckons every man to do his best, For the goal that lies before him and the promise when he sows That his hand shall reap the harvest, undisturbed by cruel foes; For the flaming torch of justice, symbolizing as it burns: Here none may rob the toiler of the prize he fairly earns.
To-day our thanks we're giving for the riches that are ours, For the red fruits of the orchards and the perfume of the flowers, For our homes with laughter ringing and our hearthfires blazing bright, For our land of peace and plenty and our land of truth and right; And we're thankful for the glory of the old Red, White and Blue, For the spirit of our fathers and a manhood that is true.
MA AND HER CHECK BOOK
Ma has a dandy little book that's full of narrow slips, An' when she wants to pay a bill a page from it she rips; She just writes in the dollars and the cents and signs her name An' that's as good as money, though it doesn't look the same. When she wants another bonnet or some feathers for her neck, She promptly goes an' gets 'em, an' she writes another check. I don't just understand it, but I know she sputters when Pa says to her at supper: "Well! You're overdrawn again!"
Ma's not a business woman, she is much too kind of heart To squabble over pennies or to play a selfish part, An' when someone asks for money, she's not one to stop an' think Of a little piece of paper an' the cost of pen an' ink. She just tells him very sweetly if he'll only wait a bit An' be seated in the parlor, she will write a check for it. She can write one out for twenty just as easily as ten, An' forgets that Pa may grumble: "Well, you're overdrawn again!"
Pa says it looks as though he'll have to start in workin' nights To gather in the money for the checks that mother writes. He says that every morning when he's summoned to the phone, He's afraid the bank is calling to make mother's shortage known. He tells his friends if ever anything our fortune wrecks They can trace it to the moment mother started writing checks. He's got so that he trembles when he sees her fountain pen An' he mutters: "Do be careful! You'll be overdrawn again!"
THE FISHING CURE
There's nothing that builds up a toil-weary soul Like a day on a stream, Back on the banks of the old fishing hole Where a fellow can dream. There's nothing so good for a man as to flee From the city and lie Full length in the shade of a whispering tree And gaze at the sky.
Out there where the strife and the greed are forgot And the struggle for pelf, A man can get rid of each taint and each spot And clean up himself; He can be what he wanted to be when a boy, If only in dreams; And revel once more in the depths of a joy That's as real as it seems.
The things that he hates never follow him there— The jar of the street, The rivalries petty, the struggling unfair— For the open is sweet. In purity's realm he can rest and be clean, Be he humble or great, And as peaceful his soul may become as the scene That his eyes contemplate.
It is good for the world that men hunger to go To the banks of a stream, And weary of sham and of pomp and of show They have somewhere to dream. For this life would be dreary and sordid and base Did they not now and then Seek refreshment and calm in God's wide, open space And come back to be men.
THE HAPPY SLOW THINKER
Full many a time a thought has come That had a bitter meaning in it. And in the conversation's hum I lost it ere I could begin it.
I've had it on my tongue to spring Some poisoned quip that I thought clever; Then something happened and the sting Unuttered went, and died forever.
A lot of bitter thoughts I've had To silence fellows and to flay 'em, But next day always I've been glad I wasn't quick enough to say 'em.
The kids are out-of-doors once more; The heavy leggins that they wore, The winter caps that covered ears Are put away, and no more tears Are shed because they cannot go Until they're bundled up just so. No more she wonders when they're gone If they have put their rubbers on; No longer are they hourly told To guard themselves against a cold; Bareheaded now they romp and run Warmed only by the kindly sun.
She's put their heavy clothes away And turned the children out to play, And all the morning long they race Like madcaps round about the place. The robins on the fences sing A gayer song of welcoming, And seems as though they had a share In all the fun they're having there. The wrens and sparrows twitter, too, A louder and a noisier crew, As though it pleased them all to see The youngsters out of doors and free.
Outdoors they scamper to their play With merry din the livelong day, And hungrily they jostle in The favor of the maid to win; Then, armed with cookies or with cake, Their way into the yard they make, And every feathered playmate comes To gather up his share of crumbs. The finest garden that I know Is one where little children grow, Where cheeks turn brown and eyes are bright, And all is laughter and delight.
Oh, you may brag of gardens fine, But let the children race in mine; And let the roses, white and red, Make gay the ground whereon they tread. And who for bloom perfection seeks, Should mark the color on their cheeks; No music that the robin spouts Is equal to their merry shouts; There is no foliage to compare With youngsters' sun-kissed, tousled hair: Spring's greatest joy beyond a doubt Is when it brings the children out.
You can talk about your music, and your operatic airs, And your phonographic record that Caruso's tenor bears; But there isn't any music that such wondrous joy can bring Like the concert when the kiddies and their mother start to sing.
When the supper time is over, then the mother starts to play Some simple little ditty, and our concert's under way. And I'm happier and richer than a millionaire or king When I listen to the kiddies and their mother as they sing.
There's a sweetness most appealing in the trilling of their notes: It is innocence that's pouring from their little baby throats; And I gaze at them enraptured, for my joy's a real thing Every evening when the kiddies and their mother start to sing.
THE BUMPS AND BRUISES DOCTOR
I'm the bumps and bruises doctor; I'm the expert that they seek When their rough and tumble playing Leaves a scar on leg or cheek. I'm the rapid, certain curer For the wounds of every fall; I'm the pain eradicator; I can always heal them all.
Bumps on little people's foreheads I can quickly smooth away; I take splinters out of fingers Without very much delay. Little sorrows I can banish With the magic of my touch; I can fix a bruise that's dreadful So it isn't hurting much.
I'm the bumps and bruises doctor, And I answer every call, And my fee is very simple, Just a kiss, and that is all. And I'm sitting here and wishing In the years that are to be, When they face life's real troubles That they'll bring them all to me.
WHEN PA COUNTS
Pa's not so very big or brave; he can't lift weights like Uncle Jim; His hands are soft like little girls'; most anyone could wallop him. Ma weighs a whole lot more than Pa. When they go swimming, she could stay Out in the river all day long, but Pa gets frozen right away. But when the thunder starts to roll, an' lightnin' spits, Ma says, "Oh, dear, I'm sure we'll all of us be killed. I only wish your Pa was here."
Pa's cheeks are thin an' kinder pale; he couldn't rough it worth a cent. He couldn't stand the hike we had the day the Boy Scouts camping went. He has to hire a man to dig the garden, coz his back gets lame, An' he'd be crippled for a week, if he should play a baseball game. But when a thunder storm comes up, Ma sits an' shivers in the gloam An' every time the thunder rolls, she says: "I wish your Pa was home."
I don't know just what Pa could do if he were home, he seems so frail, But every time the skies grow black I notice Ma gets rather pale. An' when she's called us children in, an' locked the windows an' the doors, She jumps at every lightnin' flash an' trembles when the thunder roars. An' when the baby starts to cry, she wrings her hands an' says: "Oh, dear, It's terrible! It's terrible! I only wish your Pa was here."
A man must earn his hour of peace, Must pay for it with hours of strife and care, Must win by toil the evening's sweet release, The rest that may be portioned for his share; The idler never knows it, never can. Peace is the glory ever of a man.
A man must win contentment for his soul, Must battle for it bravely day by day; The peace he seeks is not a near-by goal; To claim it he must tread a rugged way. The shirker never knows a tranquil breast; Peace but rewards the man who does his best.
NO PLACE TO GO
The happiest nights I ever know Are those when I've No place to go, And the missus says When the day is through: "To-night we haven't A thing to do."
Oh, the joy of it, And the peace untold Of sitting 'round In my slippers old, With my pipe and book In my easy chair, Knowing I needn't Go anywhere.
Needn't hurry My evening meal Nor force the smiles That I do not feel, But can grab a book From a near-by shelf, And drop all sham And be myself.
Oh, the charm of it And the comfort rare; Nothing on earth With it can compare; And I'm sorry for him Who doesn't know The joy of having No place to go.
No one is beat till he quits, No one is through till he stops, No matter how hard Failure hits, No matter how often he drops, A fellow's not down till he lies In the dust and refuses to rise.
Fate can slam him and bang him around, And batter his frame till he's sore, But she never can say that he's downed While he bobs up serenely for more. A fellow's not dead till he dies, Nor beat till no longer he tries.
A PATRIOTIC WISH
I'd like to be the sort of man the flag could boast about; I'd like to be the sort of man it cannot live without; I'd like to be the type of man That really is American: The head-erect and shoulders-square, Clean-minded fellow, just and fair, That all men picture when they see The glorious banner of the free.
I'd like to be the sort of man the flag now typifies, The kind of man we really want the flag to symbolize; The loyal brother to a trust, The big, unselfish soul and just, The friend of every man oppressed, The strong support of all that's best, The sturdy chap the banner's meant, Where'er it flies, to represent.
I'd like to be the sort of man the flag's supposed to mean, The man that all in fancy see wherever it is seen, The chap that's ready for a fight Whenever there's a wrong to right, The friend in every time of need, The doer of the daring deed, The clean and generous handed man That is a real American.
THE PRICE OF JOY
You don't begrudge the labor when the roses start to bloom; You don't recall the dreary days that won you their perfume; You don't recall a single care You spent upon the garden there; And all the toil Of tilling soil Is quite forgot the day the first Pink rosebuds into beauty burst.
You don't begrudge the trials grim when joy has come to you; You don't recall the dreary days when all your skies are blue; And though you've trod a weary mile The ache of it was all worth while; And all the stings And bitter flings Are wiped away upon the day Success comes dancing down the way.
THE THINGS THAT MAKE A SOLDIER GREAT
The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die, To face the flaming cannon's mouth nor ever question why, Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red, The peonies and pansies, too, the old petunia bed, The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall: 'Tis these that make a soldier great. He's fighting for them all.
'Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave; 'Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave; For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam As when behind the cause they see the little place called home. Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run, You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun.
What is it through the battle smoke the valiant solider sees? The little garden far away, the budding apple trees, The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play, Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray. The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome But to the spot, where'er it be—the humblest spot called home.
And now the lilacs bud again and all is lovely there And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air; The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green, And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been. He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call, And only death can stop him now—he's fighting for them all.
THE JOY OF A DOG
Ma says no, it's too much care An' it will scatter germs an' hair, An' it's a nuisance through and through. An' barks when you don't want it to; An' carries dirt from off the street, An' tracks the carpets with its feet. But it's a sign he's growin' up When he is longin' for a pup.
Most every night he comes to me An' climbs a-straddle of my knee An' starts to fondle me an' pet, Then asks me if I've found one yet. An' ma says: "Now don't tell him yes; You know they make an awful mess." An' starts their faults to catalogue. But every boy should have a dog.
An' some night when he comes to me, Deep in my pocket there will be The pup he's hungry to possess Or else I sadly miss my guess. For I remember all the joy A dog meant to a little boy Who loved it in the long ago, The joy that's now his right to know.
It's tough when you are homesick in a strange and distant place; It's anguish when you're hungry for an old-familiar face. And yearning for the good folks and the joys you used to know, When you're miles away from friendship, is a bitter sort of woe. But it's tougher, let me tell you, and a stiffer discipline To see them through the window, and to know you can't go in.
Oh, I never knew the meaning of that red sign on the door, Never really understood it, never thought of it before; But I'll never see another since they've tacked one up on mine But I'll think about the father that is barred from all that's fine. And I'll think about the mother who is prisoner in there So her little son or daughter shall not miss a mother's care. And I'll share a fellow feeling with the saddest of my kin, The dad beside the gateway of the home he can't go in.
Oh, we laugh and joke together and the mother tries to be Brave and sunny in her prison, and she thinks she's fooling me; And I do my bravest smiling and I feign a merry air In the hope she won't discover that I'm burdened down with care. But it's only empty laughter, and there's nothing in the grin When you're talking through the window of the home you can't go in.
THE PERFECT DINNER TABLE
A table cloth that's slightly soiled Where greasy little hands have toiled; The napkins kept in silver rings, And only ordinary things From which to eat, a simple fare, And just the wife and kiddies there, And while I serve, the clatter glad Of little girl and little lad Who have so very much to say About the happenings of the day.
Four big round eyes that dance with glee, Forever flashing joys at me, Two little tongues that race and run To tell of troubles and of fun; The mother with a patient smile Who knows that she must wait awhile Before she'll get a chance to say What she's discovered through the day. She steps aside for girl and lad Who have so much to tell their dad.
Our manners may not be the best; Perhaps our elbows often rest Upon the table, and at times That very worst of dinner crimes, That very shameful act and rude Of speaking ere you've downed your food, Too frequently, I fear, is done, So fast the little voices run. Yet why should table manners stay Those tongues that have so much to say?
At many a table I have been Where wealth and luxury were seen, And I have dined in halls of pride Where all the guests were dignified; But when it comes to pleasure rare The perfect dinner table's where No stranger's face is ever known: The dinner hour we spend alone, When little girl and little lad Run riot telling things to dad.
He was going to be all that a mortal should be To-morrow. No one should be kinder or braver than he To-morrow. A friend who was troubled and weary he knew, Who'd be glad of a lift and who needed it, too; On him he would call and see what he could do To-morrow.
Each morning he stacked up the letters he'd write To-morrow. And thought of the folks he would fill with delight To-morrow. It was too bad, indeed, he was busy to-day, And hadn't a minute to stop on his way; More time he would have to give others, he'd say, To-morrow.
The greatest of workers this man would have been To-morrow. The world would have known him, had he ever seen To-morrow. But the fact is he died and he faded from view, And all that he left here when living was through Was a mountain of things he intended to do To-morrow.
God grant me kindly thought And patience through the day, And in the things I've wrought Let no man living say That hate's grim mark has stained What little joy I've gained.
God keep my nature sweet, Teach me to bear a blow, Disaster and defeat, And no resentment show. If failure must be mine Sustain this soul of mine.
God grant me strength to face Undaunted day or night; To stoop to no disgrace To win my little fight; Let me be, when it is o'er, As manly as before.
TO THE LADY IN THE ELECTRIC
Lady in the show case carriage, Do not think that I'm a bear; Not for worlds would I disparage One so gracious and so fair; Do not think that I am blind to One who has a smile seraphic; You I'd never be unkind to, But you are impeding traffic.
If I had some way of knowing What you are about to do, Just exactly where you're going, If I could depend on you, I could keep my engine churning, Travel on and never mind you. Lady, when you think of turning, Why not signal us behind you?
Lady, free from care and worry, Riding in your plate-glass car, Some of us are in a hurry; Some of us must travel far. I, myself, am eager, very, To be journeying on my way; Lady, is it necessary To monopolize the highway?
Lady, at the handle, steering, Why not keep a course that's straight? Know you not that wildly veering As you do, is tempting fate? Do not think my horn I'm blowing Just on purpose to harass you, It is just a signal showing That I'd safely like to pass you.
Lady, there are times a duty Must be done, however saddening; It is hard to tell a beauty That she's very often maddening. And I would not now be saying Harsh and cruel words to fuss you, But when traffic you're delaying You are forcing men to cuss you.
THE MAN WHO COULDN'T SAVE
He spent what he made, or he gave it away, Tried to save money, and would for a day, Started a bank-account time an' again, Got a hundred or so for a nest egg, an' then Some fellow that needed it more than he did, Who was down on his luck, with a sick wife or kid, Came along an' he wasted no time till he went An' drew out the coin that for saving was meant.
They say he died poor, and I guess that is so: To pile up a fortune he hadn't a show; He worked all the time and good money he made, Was known as an excellent man at his trade. But he saw too much, heard too much, felt too much here To save anything by the end of the year, An' the shabbiest wreck the Lord ever let live Could get money from him if he had it to give.
I've seen him slip dimes to the bums on the street Who told him they hungered for something to eat, An' though I remarked they were going for drink He'd say: "Mebbe so. But I'd just hate to think That fellow was hungry an' I'd passed him by; I'd rather be fooled twenty times by a lie Than wonder if one of 'em I wouldn't feed Had told me the truth an' was really in need."
Never stinted his family out of a thing: They had everything that his money could bring; Said he'd rather be broke and just know they were glad, Than rich, with them pining an' wishing they had Some of the pleasures his money would buy; Said he never could look a bank book in the eye If he knew it had grown on the pleasures and joys That he'd robbed from his wife and his girls and his boys.
Queer sort of notion he had, I confess, Yet many a rich man on earth is mourned less. All who had known him came back to his side To honor his name on the day that he died. Didn't leave much in the bank, it is true, But did leave a fortune in people who knew The big heart of him, an' I'm willing to swear That to-day he is one of the richest up there.
"When shall I be a man?" he said, As I was putting him to bed. "How many years will have to be Before Time makes a man of me? And will I be a man when I Am grown up big?" I heaved a sigh, Because it called for careful thought To give the answer that he sought.
And so I sat him on my knee, And said to him: "A man you'll be When you have learned that honor brings More joy than all the crowns of kings; That it is better to be true To all who know and trust in you Than all the gold of earth to gain If winning it shall leave a stain.
"When you can fight for victory sweet, Yet bravely swallow down defeat, And cling to hope and keep the right, Nor use deceit instead of might; When you are kind and brave and clean, And fair to all and never mean; When there is good in all you plan, That day, my boy, you'll be a man.
"Some of us learn this truth too late; That years alone can't make us great; That many who are three-score, ten Have fallen short of being men, Because in selfishness they fought And toiled without refining thought; And whether wrong or whether right They lived but for their own delight.
"When you have learned that you must hold Your honor dearer far than gold; That no ill-gotten wealth or fame Can pay you for your tarnished name; And when in all you say or do Of others you're considerate, too, Content to do the best you can By such a creed, you'll be a man."
FATHER AND SON
Be more than his dad, Be a chum to the lad; Be a part of his life Every hour of the day; Find time to talk with him, Take time to walk with him, Share in his studies And share in his play; Take him to places, To ball games and races, Teach him the things That you want him to know; Don't live apart from him, Don't keep your heart from him, Be his best comrade, He's needing you so!