Part 1 out of 3
Just Folks by Edgar A. Guest
To the Little Mother and
the Memory of the Big
Father, This Simple Book
Is Affectionately Dedicated
We're queer folks here.
We'll talk about the weather,
The good times we have had together,
The good times near,
The roses buddin', an' the bees
Once more upon their nectar sprees;
The scarlet fever scare, an' who
Came mighty near not pullin' through,
An' who had light attacks, an' all
The things that int'rest, big or small;
But here you'll never hear of sinnin'
Or any scandal that's beginnin'.
We've got too many other labors
To scatter tales that harm our neighbors.
We're strange folks here.
We're tryin' to be cheerful,
An' keep this home from gettin' tearful.
We hold it dear
Too dear for pettiness an' meanness,
An' nasty tales of men's uncleanness.
Here you shall come to joyous smilin',
Secure from hate an' harsh revilin';
Here, where the wood fire brightly blazes,
You'll hear from us our neighbor's praises.
Here, that they'll never grow to doubt us,
We keep our friends always about us;
An' here, though storms outside may pelter
Is refuge for our friends, an' shelter.
We've one rule here,
An' that is to be pleasant.
The folks we know are always present,
Or very near.
An' though they dwell in many places,
We think we're talkin' to their faces;
An' that keeps us from only seein'
The faults in any human bein',
An' checks our tongues when they'd go trailin'
Into the mire of mortal failin'.
Flaws aren't so big when folks are near you;
You don't talk mean when they can hear you.
An' so no scandal here is started,
Because from friends we're never parted.
As It Goes
In the corner she's left the mechanical toy,
On the chair is her Teddy Bear fine;
The things that I thought she would really enjoy
Don't seem to be quite in her line.
There's the flaxen-haired doll that is lovely to see
And really expensively dressed,
Left alone, all uncared for, and strange though it be,
She likes her rag dolly the best.
Oh, the money we spent and the plans that we laid
And the wonderful things that we bought!
There are toys that are cunningly, skillfully made,
But she seems not to give them a thought.
She was pleased when she woke and discovered them there,
But never a one of us guessed
That it isn't the splendor that makes a gift rare--
She likes her rag dolly the best.
There's the flaxen-haired doll, with the real human hair,
There's the Teddy Bear left all alone,
There's the automobile at the foot of the stair,
And there is her toy telephone;
We thought they were fine, but a little child's eyes
Look deeper than ours to find charm,
And now she's in bed, and the rag dolly lies
Snuggled close on her little white arm.
Old-fashioned flowers! I love them all:
The morning-glories on the wall,
The pansies in their patch of shade,
The violets, stolen from a glade,
The bleeding hearts and columbine,
Have long been garden friends of mine;
But memory every summer flocks
About a clump of hollyhocks.
The mother loved them years ago;
Beside the fence they used to grow,
And though the garden changed each year
And certain blooms would disappear
To give their places in the ground
To something new that mother found,
Some pretty bloom or rosebush rare--
The hollyhocks were always there.
It seems but yesterday to me
She led me down the yard to see
The first tall spires, with bloom aflame,
And taught me to pronounce their name.
And year by year I watched them grow,
The first flowers I had come to know.
And with the mother dear I'd yearn
To see the hollyhocks return.
The garden of my boyhood days
With hollyhocks was kept ablaze;
In all my recollections they
In friendly columns nod and sway;
And when to-day their blooms I see,
Always the mother smiles at me;
The mind's bright chambers, life unlocks
Each summer with the hollyhocks.
When he has more than he can eat
To feed a stranger's not a feat.
When he has more than he can spend
It isn't hard to give or lend.
Who gives but what he'll never miss
Will never know what giving is.
He'll win few praises from his Lord
Who does but what he can afford.
The widow's mite to heaven went
Because real sacrifice it meant.
Don't want medals on my breast,
Don't want all the glory,
I'm not worrying greatly lest
The world won't hear my story.
A chance to dream beside a stream
Where fish are biting free;
A day or two, 'neath skies of blue,
Is joy enough for me.
I do not ask a hoard of gold,
Nor treasures rich and rare;
I don't want all the joys to hold;
I only want a share.
Just now and then, away from men
And all their haunts of pride,
If I can steal, with rod and reel,
I will be satisfied.
I'll gladly work my way through life;
I would not always play;
I only ask to quit the strife
For an occasional day.
If I can sneak from toil a week
To chum with stream and tree,
I'll fish away and smiling say
That life's been good to me.
See It Thrnugh
When you're up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it's vain to try to dodge it,
Do the best that you can do;
You may fail, but you may conquer,
See it through!
Black may be the clouds about you
And your future may seem grim,
But don't let your nerve desert you;
Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen,
Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you,
See it through!
Even hope may seem but futile,
When with troubles you're beset,
But remember you are facing
Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;
Don't give up, whate'er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.
See it through!
To the Humble
If all the flowers were roses,
If never daisies grew,
If no old-fashioned posies
Drank in the morning dew,
Then man might have some reason
To whimper and complain,
And speak these words of treason,
That all our toil is vain.
If all the stars were Saturns
That twinkle in the night,
Of equal size and patterns,
And equally as bright,
Then men in humble places,
With humble work to do,
With frowns upon their faces
Might trudge their journey through.
But humble stars and posies
Still do their best, although
They're planets not, nor roses,
To cheer the world below.
And those old-fashioned daisies
Delight the soul of man;
They're here, and this their praise is:
They work the Master's plan.
Though humble be your labor,
And modest be your sphere,
Come, envy not your neighbor
Whose light shines brighter here.
Does God forget the daisies
Because the roses bloom?
Shall you not win His praises
By toiling at your loom?
Have you, the toiler humble,
Just reason to complain,
To shirk your task and grumble
And think that it is vain
Because you see a brother
With greater work to do?
No fame of his can smother
The merit that's in you.
When Nellie's on the Job
The bright spots in my life are when the servant quits the place,
Although that grim disturbance brings a frown to Nellie's face;
The week between the old girl's' reign and entry of the new
Is one that's filled with happiness and comfort through and through.
The charm of living's back again--a charm that servants rob--
I like the home, I like the meals, when Nellie's on the job.
There's something in a servant's ways, however fine they be,
That has a cold and distant touch and frets the soul of me.
The old home never looks so well, as in that week or two
That we are servantless and Nell has all the work to do.
There is a sense of comfort then that makes my pulses throb
And home is as it ought to be when Nellie's on the job.
Think not that I'd deny her help or grudge the servant's pay;
When one departs we try to get another right away;
I merely state the simple fact that no such joys I've known
As in those few brief days at home when we've been left alone.
There is a gentleness that seems to soothe this selfish elf
And, Oh, I like to eat those meals that Nellie gets herself!
You cannot buy the gentle touch that mother gives the place;
No servant girl can do the work with just the proper grace.
And though you hired the queen of cooks to fashion your croquettes,
Her meals would not compare with those your loving comrade gets;
So, though the maid has quit again, and she is moved to sob,
The old home's at its finest now, for Nellie's on the job.
The Old, Old Story
I have no wish to rail at fate,
And vow that I'm unfairly treated;
I do not give vent to my hate
Because at times I am defeated.
Life has its ups and downs, I know,
But tell me why should people say
Whenever after fish I go:
"You should have been here yesterday"?
It is my luck always to strike
A day when there is nothing doing,
When neither perch, nor bass, nor pike
My baited hooks will come a-wooing.
Must I a day late always be?
When not a nibble comes my way
Must someone always say to me:
"We caught a bunch here yesterday"?
I am not prone to discontent,
Nor over-zealous now to climb;
If victory is not yet meant
For me I'll calmly bide my time.
But I should like just once to go
Out fishing on some lake or bay
And not have someone mutter: "Oh,
You should have been here yesterday."
He tore the curtains yesterday,
And scratched the paper on the wall;
Ma's rubbers, too, have gone astray--
She says she left them in the hall;
He tugged the table cloth and broke
A fancy saucer and a cup;
Though Bud and I think it a joke
Ma scolds a lot about the pup.
The sofa pillows are a sight,
The rugs are looking somewhat frayed,
And there is ruin, left and right,
That little Boston bull has made.
He slept on Buddy's counterpane--
Ma found him there when she woke up.
I think it needless to explain
She scolds a lot about the pup.
And yet he comes and licks her hand
And sometimes climbs into her lap
And there, Bud lets me understand,
He very often takes his nap.
And Bud and I have learned to know
She wouldn't give the rascal up:
She's really fond of him, although
She scolds a lot about the pup.
Since Jessie Died
We understand a lot of things we never did before,
And it seems that to each other Ma and I are meaning more.
I don't know how to say it, but since little Jessie died
We have learned that to be happy we must travel side by side.
You can share your joys and pleasures, but you never come to know
The depth there is in loving, till you've got a common woe.
We're past the hurt of fretting--we can talk about it now:
She slipped away so gently and the fever left her brow
So softly that we didn't know we'd lost her, but, instead,
We thought her only sleeping as we watched beside her bed.
Then the doctor, I remember, raised his head, as if to say
What his eyes had told already, and Ma fainted dead away.
Up to then I thought that money was the thing I ought to get;
And I fancied, once I had it, I should never have to fret.
But I saw that I had wasted precious hours in seeking wealth;
I had made a tidy fortune, but I couldn't buy her health.
And I saw this truth much clearer than I'd ever seen before:
That the rich man and the poor man have to let death through the door.
We're not half so keen for money as one time we used to be;
I am thinking more of mother and she's thinking more of me.
Now we spend more time together, and I know we're meaning more
To each other on life's journey, than we ever meant before.
It was hard to understand it! Oh, the dreary nights we've cried!
But we've found the depth of loving, since the day that Jessie died.
Ain't no use as I can see
In sittin' underneath a tree
An' growlin' that your luck is bad,
An' that your life is extry sad;
Your life ain't sadder than your neighbor's
Nor any harder are your labors;
It rains on him the same as you,
An' he has work he hates to do;
An' he gits tired an' he gits cross,
An' he has trouble with the boss;
You take his whole life, through an' through,
Why, he's no better off than you.
If whinin' brushed the clouds away
I wouldn't have a word to say;
If it made good friends out o' foes
I'd whine a bit, too, I suppose;
But when I look around an' see
A lot o' men resemblin' me,
An' see 'em sad, an' see 'em gay
With work t' do most every day,
Some full o' fun, some bent with care,
Some havin' troubles hard to bear,
I reckon, as I count my woes,
They're 'bout what everybody knows.
The day I find a man who'll say
He's never known a rainy day,
Who'll raise his right hand up an' swear
In forty years he's had no care,
Has never had a single blow,
An' never known one touch o' woe,
Has never seen a loved one die,
Has never wept or heaved a sigh,
Has never had a plan go wrong,
But allus laughed his way along;
Then I'll sit down an' start to whine
That all the hard luck here is mine.
Vacation time! How glad it seemed
When as a boy I sat and dreamed
Above my school books, of the fun
That I should claim when toil was done;
And, Oh, how oft my youthful eye
Went wandering with the patch of sky
That drifted by the window panes
O'er pleasant fields and dusty lanes,
Where I would race and romp and shout
The very moment school was out.
My artful little fingers then
Feigned labor with the ink and pen,
But heart and mind were far away,
Engaged in some glad bit of play.
The last two weeks dragged slowly by;
Time hadn't then learned how to fly.
It seemed the clock upon the wall
From hour to hour could only crawl,
And when the teacher called my name,
Unto my cheeks the crimson came,
For I could give no answer clear
To questions that I didn't hear.
"Wool gathering, were you?" oft she said
And smiled to see me blushing red.
Her voice had roused me from a dream
Where I was fishing in a stream,
And, if I now recall it right,
Just at the time I had a bite.
And now my youngsters dream of play
In just the very selfsame way;
And they complain that time is slow
And that the term will never go.
Their little minds with plans are filled
For joyous hours they soon will build,
And it is vain for me to say,
That have grown old and wise and gray,
That time is swift, and joy is brief;
They'll put no faith in such belief.
To youthful hearts that long for play
Time is a laggard on the way.
'Twas, Oh, so slow to me back then
Ere I had learned the ways of men!
The Little Hurts
Every night she runs to me
With a bandaged arm or a bandaged knee,
A stone-bruised heel or a swollen brow,
And in sorrowful tones she tells me how
She fell and "hurted herse'f to-day"
While she was having the "bestest play."
And I take her up in my arms and kiss
The new little wounds and whisper this:
"Oh, you must be careful, my little one,
You mustn't get hurt while your daddy's gone,
For every cut with its ache and smart
Leaves another bruise on your daddy's heart."
Every night I must stoop to see
The fresh little cuts on her arm or knee;
The little hurts that have marred her play,
And brought the tears on a happy day;
For the path of childhood is oft beset
With care and trouble and things that fret.
Oh, little girl, when you older grow,
Far greater hurts than these you'll know;
Greater bruises will bring your tears,
Around the bend of the lane of years,
But come to your daddy with them at night
And he'll do his best to make all things right.
The Lanes of Memory
Adown the lanes of memory bloom all the flowers of yesteryear,
And looking back we smile to see life's bright red roses reappear,
The little sprigs of mignonette that smiled upon us as we passed,
The pansy and the violet, too sweet, we thought those days, to last.
The gentle mother by the door caresses still her lilac blooms,
And as we wander back once more we seem to smell the old perfumes,
We seem to live again the joys that once were ours so long ago
When we were little girls and boys, with all the charms we used to know.
But living things grow old and fade; the dead in memory remain,
In all their splendid youth arrayed, exempt from suffering and pain;
The little babe God called away, so many, many years ago,
Is still a little babe to-day, and I am glad that this is so.
Time has not changed the joys we knew; the summer rains or winter snows
Have failed to harm the wondrous hue of any dew-kissed bygone rose;
In memory 'tis still as fair as when we plucked it for our own,
And we can see it blooming there, if anything more lovely grown.
Adown the lanes of memory bloom all the joys of yesteryear,
And God has given you and me the power to make them reappear;
For we can settle back at night and live again the joys we knew
And taste once more the old delight of days when all our skies were blue.
The Day of Days
A year is filled with glad events:
The best is Christmas day,
But every holiday presents
Its special round of play,
And looking back on boyhood now
And all the charms it knew,
One day, above the rest, somehow,
Seems brightest in review.
That day was finest, I believe;
Though many grown-ups scoff,
When mother said that we could leave
Our shoes and stockings off.
Through all the pleasant days of spring
We begged to know once more
The joy of barefoot wandering
And quit the shoes we wore;
But always mother shook her head
And answered with a smile:
"It is too soon, too soon," she said.
"Wait just a little while."
Then came that glorious day at last
When mother let us know
That fear of taking cold was past
And we could barefoot go.
Though Christmas day meant much to me,
And eagerly I'd try
The first boy on the street to be
The Fourth day of July,
I think: the summit of my joy
Was reached that happy day
Each year, when, as a barefoot boy,
I hastened out to play.
Could I return to childhood fair,
That day I think I'd choose
When mother said I needn't wear
My stockings and my shoes.
A Fine Sight
I reckon the finest sight of all
That a man can see in this world of ours
Ain't the works of art on the gallery wall,
Or the red an' white o' the fust spring flowers,
Or a hoard o' gold from the yellow mines;
But the' sight that'll make ye want t' yell
Is t' catch a glimpse o' the fust pink signs
In yer baby's cheek, that she's gittin' well.
When ye see the pink jes' a-creepin' back
T' the pale, drawn cheek, an' ye note a smile,
Then th' cords o' yer heart that were tight, grow slack
An' ye jump fer joy every little while,
An' ye tiptoe back to her little bed
As though ye doubted yer eyes, or were
Afraid it was fever come back instead,
An' ye found that th' pink still blossomed there.
Ye've watched fer that smile an' that bit o' bloom
With a heavy heart fer weeks an' weeks;
An' a castle o' joy becomes that room
When ye glimpse th' pink 'in yer baby's cheeks.
An' out o' yer breast flies a weight o' care,
An' ye're lifted up by some magic spell,
An' yer heart jes' naturally beats a prayer
O' joy to the Lord 'cause she's gittin' well.
I've' felt some little thrills of pride, I've inwardly rejoiced
Along the pleasant lanes of life to hear my praises voiced;
No great distinction have I claimed, but in a humble way
Some satisfactions sweet have come to brighten many a day;
But of the joyous thrills of life the finest that could be
Was mine upon that day when first a stranger "mistered" me.
I had my first long trousers on, and wore a derby too,
But I was still a little boy to everyone I knew.
I dressed in manly fashion, and I tried to act the part,
But I felt that I was awkward and lacked the manly art.
And then that kindly stranger spoke my name and set me free;
I was sure I'd come to manhood on the day he "mistered" me.
I never shall forget the joy that suddenly was mine,
The sweetness of the thrill that seemed to dance along my spine,
The pride that swelled within me, as he shook my youthful hand
And treated me as big enough with grown up men to stand.
I felt my body straighten and a stiffening at each knee,
And was gloriously happy, just because he'd "mistered" me.
I cannot now recall his name, I only wish I could.
I've often wondered if that day he really understood
How much it meant unto a boy, still wearing boyhood's tan,
To find that others noticed that he'd grown to be a man.
Now I try to treat as equal every growing boy I see
In memory of that kindly man--the first to "mister" me.
"Men will grow weary," said the Lord,
"Of working for their bed and board.
They'll weary of the money chase
And want to find a resting place
Where hum of wheel is never heard
And no one speaks an angry word,
And selfishness and greed and pride
And petty motives don't abide.
They'll need a place where they can go
To wash their souls as white as snow.
They will be better men and true
If they can play a day or two."
The Lord then made the brooks to flow
And fashioned rivers here below,
And many lakes; for water seems
Best suited for a mortal's dreams.
He placed about them willow trees
To catch the murmur of the breeze,
And sent the birds that sing the best
Among the foliage to nest.
He filled each pond and stream and lake
With fish for man to come and take;
Then stretched a velvet carpet deep
On which a weary soul could sleep.
It seemed to me the Good Lord knew
That man would want something to do
When worn and wearied with the stress
Of battling hard for world success.
When sick at heart of all the strife
And pettiness of daily life,
He knew he'd need, from time to time,
To cleanse himself of city grime,
And he would want some place to be
Where hate and greed he'd never see.
And so on lakes and streams and brooks
The Good Lord fashioned fishing nooks.
Show the Flag
Show the flag and let it wave
As a symbol of the brave
Let it float upon the breeze
As a sign for each who sees
That beneath it, where it rides,
Loyalty to-day abides.
Show the flag and signify
That it wasn't born to die;
Let its colors speak for you
That you still are standing true,
True in sight of God and man
To the work that flag began.
Show the flag that all may see
That you serve humanity.
Let it whisper to the breeze
That comes singing through the trees
That whatever storms descend
You'll be faithful to the end.
Show the flag and let it fly,
Cheering every passer-by.
Men that may have stepped aside,
May have lost their old-time pride,
May behold it there, and then,
Consecrate themselves again.
Show the flag! The day is gone
When men blindly hurry on
Serving only gods of gold;
Now the spirit that was cold
Warms again to courage fine.
Show the flag and fall in line!
It's good to have the trees again, the singing of the breeze again,
It's good to see the lilacs bloom as lovely as of old.
It's good that we can feel again the touch of beauties real again,
For hearts and minds, of sorrow now, have all that they can hold.
The roses haven't changed a bit, nor have the lilacs stranged a bit,
They bud and bloom the way they did before the war began.
The world is upside down to-day, there's much to make us frown to-day,
And gloom and sadness everywhere beset the path of man.
But now the lilacs bloom again and give us their perfume again,
And now the roses smile at us and nod along the way;
And it is good to see again the blossoms on each tree again,
And feel that nature hasn't changed the way we have to-day.
Oh, we have changed from what we were; we're not the carefree lot we were;
Our hearts are filled with sorrow now and grave concern and pain,
But it is good to see once more, the blooming lilac tree once more,
And find the constant roses here to comfort us again.
A Patriotic Creed
To serve my country day by day
At any humble post I may;
To honor and respect her flag,
To live the traits of which I brag;
To be American in deed
As well as in my printed creed.
To stand for truth and honest toil,
To till my little patch of soil,
And keep in mind the debt I owe
To them who died that I might know
My country, prosperous and free,
And passed this heritage to me.
I always must in trouble's hour
Be guided by the men in power;
For God and country I must live,
My best for God and country give;
No act of mine that men may scan
Must shame the name American.
To do my best and play my part,
American in mind and heart;
To serve the flag and bravely stand
To guard the glory of my land;
To be American in deed:
God grant me strength to keep this creed!
The road to laughter beckons me,
The road to all that's best;
The home road where I nightly see
The castle of my rest;
The path where all is fine and fair,
And little children run,
For love and joy are waiting there
As soon as day is done.
There is no rich reward of fame
That can compare with this:
At home I wear an honest name,
My lips are fit to kiss.
At home I'm always brave and strong,
And with the setting sun
They find no trace of shame or wrong
In anything I've done.
There shine the eyes that only see
The good I've tried to do;
They think me what I'd like to be;
They know that I am true.
And whether I have lost my fight
Or whether I have won,
I find a faith that I've been right
As soon as day is done.
The Old-Time Family
It makes me smile to hear 'em tell each other nowadays
The burdens they are bearing, with a child or two to raise.
Of course the cost of living has gone soaring to the sky
And our kids are wearing garments that my parents couldn't buy.
Now my father wasn't wealthy, but I never heard him squeal
Because eight of us were sitting at the table every meal.
People fancy. they are martyrs if their children number three,
And four or five they reckon makes a large-sized family.
A dozen hungry youngsters at a table I have seen
And their daddy didn't grumble when they licked the platter clean.
Oh, I wonder how these mothers and these fathers up-to-date
Would like the job of buying little shoes for seven or eight.
We were eight around the table in those happy days back them,
Eight that cleaned our plates of pot-pie and then passed them up again;
Eight that needed shoes and stockings, eight to wash and put to bed,
And with mighty little money in the purse, as I have said,
But with all the care we brought them, and through all the days of stress,
I never heard my father or my mother wish for less.
The job will not make you, my boy;
The job will not bring you to fame
Or riches or honor or joy
Or add any weight to your name.
You may fail or succeed where you are,
May honestly serve or may rob;
From the start to the end
Your success will depend
On just what you make of your job.
Don't look on the job as the thing
That shall prove what you're able to do;
The job does no more than to bring
A chance for promotion to you.
Men have shirked in high places and won
Very justly the jeers of the mob;
And you'll find it is true
That it's all up to you
To say what shall come from the job.
The job is an incident small;
The thing that's important is man.
The job will not help you at all
If you won't do the best that you can.
It is you that determines your fate,
You stand with your hand on the knob
Of fame's doorway to-day,
And life asks you to say
Just what you will make of your job.
I can pass up the lure of a jewel to wear
With never the trace of a sigh,
The things on a shelf that I'd like for myself
I never regret I can't buy.
I can go through the town passing store after store
Showing things it would please me to own,
With never a trace of despair on my face,
But I can't let a toy shop alone.
I can throttle the love of fine raiment to death
And I don't know the craving for rum,
But I do know the joy that is born of a toy,
And the pleasure that comes with a drum
I can reckon the value of money at times,
And govern my purse strings with sense,
But I fall for a toy for my girl or my boy
And never regard the expense.
It's seldom I sigh for unlimited gold
Or the power of a rich man to buy;
My courage is stout when the doing without
Is only my duty, but I
Curse the shackles of thrift when I gaze at the toys
That my kiddies are eager to own,
And I'd buy everything that they wish for, by Jing!
If their mother would let me alone.
There isn't much fun spending coin on myself
For neckties and up-to-date lids,
But there's pleasure tenfold, in the silver and gold
I part with for things for the kids.
I can go through the town passing store after store
Showing things it would please me to own,
But to thrift I am lost; I won't reckon the cost
When I'm left in a toy shop alone.
The Mother on the Sidewalk
The mother on the sidewalk as the troops are marching by
Is the mother of Old Glory that is waving in the sky.
Men have fought to keep it splendid, men have died to keep it bright,
But that flag was born of woman and her sufferings day and night;
'Tis her sacrifice has made it, and once more we ought to pray
For the brave and loyal mother of the boy who goes away.
There are days of grief before her; there are hours that she will weep;
There are nights of anxious waiting when her fear will banish sleep;
She has heard her country calling and has risen to the test,
And has placed upon the altar of the nation's need, her best.
And no man shall ever suffer in the turmoil of the fray
The anguish of the mother of the boy who goes away.
You may boast men's deeds of glory, you may tell their courage great,
But to die is easier service than alone to sit and wait,
And I hail the little mother, with the tear-stained face and grave,
Who has given the flag a soldier--she's the bravest of the brave.
And that banner we are proud of, with its red and blue and white,
Is a lasting holy tribute to all mothers' love of right.
The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead to-day,
Is not a rose wreath, white and red,
In memory of the blood they shed;
It is to stand beside each mound,
Each couch of consecrated ground,
And pledge ourselves as warriors true
Unto the work they died to do.
Into God's valleys where they lie
At rest, beneath the open sky,
Triumphant now o'er every foe,
As living tributes let us go.
No wreath of rose or immortelles
Or spoken word or tolling bells
Will do to-day, unless we give
Our pledge that liberty shall live.
Our hearts must be the roses red
We place above our hero dead;
To-day beside their graves we must
Renew allegiance to their trust;
Must bare our heads and humbly say
We hold the Flag as dear as they,
And stand, as once they stood, to die
To keep the Stars and Stripes on high.
The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead to-day
Is not of speech or roses red,
But living, throbbing hearts instead,
That shall renew the pledge they sealed
With death upon the battlefield:
That freedom's flag shall bear no stain
And free men wear no tyrant's chain.
I stood and watched him playing,
A little lad of three,
And back to me came straying
The years that used to be;
In him the boy was Maying
Who once belonged to me.
The selfsame brown his eyes were
As those that once I knew;
As glad and gay his cries were,
He owned his laughter, too.
His features, form and size were
My baby's, through and through.
His ears were those I'd sung to;
His chubby little hands
Were those that I had clung to;
His hair in golden strands
It seemed my heart was strung to
By love's unbroken bands.
With him I lived the old days
That seem so far away;
The beautiful and bold days
When he was here to play;
The sunny and the gold days
Of that remembered May.
I know not who he may be
Nor where his home may be,
But I shall every day be
In hope again to see
The image of the baby
Who once belonged to me.
The Stick-Together Familics
The stick-together families are happier by far
Than the brothers and the sisters who take separate highways are.
The gladdest people living are the wholesome folks who make
A circle at the fireside that no power but death can break.
And the finest of conventions ever held beneath the sun
Are the little family gatherings when the busy day is done.
There are rich folk, there are poor folk, who imagine they are wise,
And they're very quick to shatter all the little family ties.
Each goes searching after pleasure in his own selected way,
Each with strangers likes to wander, and with strangers likes to play.
But it's bitterness they harvest, and it's empty joy they find,
For the children that are wisest are the stick-together kind.
There are some who seem to fancy that for gladness they must roam,
That for smiles that are the brightest they must wander far from home.
That the strange friend is the true friend, and they travel far astray
they waste their lives in striving for a joy that's far away,
But the gladdest sort of people, when the busy day is done,
Are the brothers and the sisters who together share their fun.
It's the stick-together family that wins the joys of earth,
That hears the sweetest music and that finds the finest mirth;
It's the old home roof that shelters all the charm that life can give;
There you find the gladdest play-ground, there the happiest spot to live.
And, O weary, wandering brother, if contentment you would win,
Come you back unto the fireside and be comrade with your kin.
If certain folks that I know well
Should come to me their woes to tell
I'd read the sorrow in their faces
And I could analyze their cases.
I watch some couples day by day
Go madly on their selfish way
Forever seeking happiness
And always finding something less.
If she whose face is fair to see,
Yet lacks one charm that there should be,
Should open wide her heart to-day
I think I know what she would say.
She'd tell me that his love seems cold
And not the love she knew of old;
That for the home they've built to share
No longer does her husband care;
That he seems happier away
Than by her side, and every day
That passes leaves them more apart;
And then perhaps her tears would start
And in a softened voice she'd add:
"Sometimes I wonder, if we had
A baby now to love, if he
Would find so many faults in me?"
And if he came to tell his woe
Just what he'd say to me, I know:
"There's something dismal in the place
That always stares me in the face.
I love her. She is good and sweet
But still my joy is incomplete.
And then it seems to me that she
Can only see the faults in me.
I wonder sometimes if we had
A little girl or little lad,
If life with all its fret and fuss
Would then seem so monotonous?"
And what I'd say to them I know.
I'd bid them straightway forth to go
And find that child and take him in
And start the joy of life to win.
You foolish, hungry souls, I'd say,
You're living in a selfish way.
A baby's arms stretched out to you
Will give you something real to do.
And though God has not sent one down
To you, within this very town
Somewhere a little baby lies
That would bring gladness to your eyes.
You cannot live this life for gold
Or selfish joys. As you grow old
You'll find that comfort only springs
From living for the living things.
And home must be a barren place
That never knows a baby's face.
Take in a child that needs your care,
Give him your name and let him share
Your happiness and you will own
More joy than you have ever known,
And, what is more, you'll come to feel
That you are doing something real.
The Crucible of Life
Sunshine and shadow, blue sky and gray,
Laughter and tears as we tread on our way;
Hearts that are heavy, then hearts that are light,
Eyes that are misty and eyes that are bright;
Losses and gains in the heat of the strife,
Each in proportion to round out his life.
Into the crucible, stirred by the years,
Go all our hopes and misgivings and fears;
Glad days and sad days, our pleasures and pains,
Worries and comforts, our losses and gains.
Out of the crucible shall there not come
Joy undefiled when we pour off the scum?
Out of the sadness and anguish and woe,
Out of the travail and burdens we know,
Out of the shadow that darkens the way,
Out of the failure that tries us to-day,
Have you a doubt that contentment will come
When you've purified life and discarded the scum?
Tinctured with sorrow and flavored with sighs,
Moistened with tears that have flowed from your eyes;
Perfumed with sweetness of loves that have died,
Leavened with failures, with grief sanctified,
Sacred and sweet is the joy that must come
From the furnace of life when you've poured off the scum.
If he is honest, kindly, true,
And glad to work from day to day;
If when his bit of toil is through
With children he will stoop to play;
If he does always what he can
To serve another's time of need,
Then I shall hail him as a man
And never ask him what's his creed.
If he respects a woman's name
And guards her from all thoughtless jeers;
If he is glad to play life's game
And not risk all to get the cheers;
If he disdains to win by bluff
And scorns to gain by shady tricks,
I hold that he is good enough
Regardless of his politics.
If he is glad his much to share
With them who little here possess,
If he will stand by what is fair
And not desert to claim success,
If he will leave a smile behind
As he proceeds from place to place,
He has the proper frame of mind,
And I won't stop to ask his race.
For when at last life's battle ends
And all the troops are called on high
We shall discover many friends
That thoughtlessly we journeyed by.
And we shall learn that God above
Has judged His creatures by their deeds,
That millions there have won His love
Who spoke in different tongues and creeds.
The Fishing Outfit
You may talk of stylish raiment,
You may boast your broadcloth fine,
And the price you gave in payment
May be treble that of mine.
But there's one suit I'd not trade you
Though it's shabby and it's thin,
For the garb your tailor made you:
That's the tattered,
Suit that I go fishing in.
There's no king in silks and laces
And with jewels on his breast,
With whom I would alter places.
There's no man so richly dressed
Or so like a fashion panel
That, his luxuries to win,
I would swap my shirt of flannel
And the rusty,
Frayed and dusty
Suit that I go fishing in.
'Tis an outfit meant for pleasure;
It is freedom's raiment, too;
It's a garb that I shall treasure
Till my time of life is through.
Though perhaps it looks the saddest
Of all robes for mortal skin,
I am proudest and I'm gladdest
In that easy,
Old and greasy
Suit that I go fishing in.
Last year he wanted building blocks,
And picture books and toys,
A saddle horse that gayly rocks,
And games for little boys.
But now he's big and all that stuff
His whim no longer suits;
He tells us that he's old enough
To ask for rubber boots.
Last year whatever Santa brought
Delighted him to own;
He never gave his wants a thought
Nor made his wishes known.
But now he says he wants a gun,
The kind that really shoots,
And I'm confronted with a son
Demanding rubber boots.
The baby that we used to know
Has somehow slipped away,
And when or where he chanced to go
Not one of us can say.
But here's a helter-skelter lad
That to me nightly scoots
And boldly wishes that he had
A pair of rubber boots.
I'll bet old Santa Claus will sigh
When down our flue he comes,
And seeks the babe that used to lie
And suck his tiny thumbs,
And finds within that little bed
A grown up boy who hoots
At building blocks, and wants instead
A pair of rubber boots.
The dead friends live and always will;
Their presence hovers round us still.
It seems to me they come to share
Each joy or sorrow that we bear.
Among the living I can feel
The sweet departed spirits steal,
And whether it be weal or woe,
I walk with those I used to know.
I can recall them to my side
Whenever I am struggle-tried;
I've but to wish for them, and they
Come trooping gayly down the way,
And I can tell to them my grief
And from their presence find relief.
In sacred memories below
Still live the friends of long ago.
Laughter sort o' settles breakfast better than digestive pills;
Found it, somehow in my travels, cure for every sort of ills;
When the hired help have riled me with their slipshod, careless ways,
An' I'm bilin' mad an' cussin' an' my temper's all ablaze,
If the calf gets me to laughin' while they're teachin' him to feed
Pretty soon I'm feelin' better, 'cause I've found the cure I need.
Like to start the day with laughter; when I've had a peaceful night,
An' can greet the sun all smilin', that day's goin' to be all right.
But there's nothing goes to suit me, when my system's full of bile;
Even horses quit their pullin' when the driver doesn't smile,
But they'll buckle to the traces when they hear a glad giddap,
Just as though they like to labor for a cheerful kind o' chap.
Laughter keeps me strong an' healthy. You can bet I'm all run down,
Fit for doctor folks an' nurses when I cannot shake my frown.
Found in farmin' laughter's useful, good for sheep an' cows an' goats;
When I've laughed my way through summer, reap the biggest crop of oats.
Laughter's good for any business, leastwise so it seems to me
Never knew a smilin' feller but was busy as could be.
Sometimes sit an' think about it, ponderin' on the ways of life,
Wonderin' why mortals gladly face the toil an care an' strife,
Then I come to this conclusion--take it now for what it's worth
It's the joy of laughter keeps us plodding on this stretch of earth.
Men the fun o' life are seeking--that's the reason for the calf
Spillin' mash upon his keeper--men are hungry for a laugh.
If I had lived in Franklin's time I'm most afraid that I,
Beholding him out in the rain, a kite about to fly,
And noticing upon its tail the barn door's rusty key,
Would, with the scoffers on the street, have chortled in my glee;
And with a sneer upon my lips I would have said of Ben,
"His belfry must be full of bats. He's raving, boys, again!"
I'm glad I didn't live on earth when Fulton had his dream,
And told his neighbors marvelous tales of what he'd do with steam,
For I'm not sure I'd not have been a member of the throng
That couldn't see how paddle-wheels could shove a boat along.
At "Fulton's Folly" I'd have sneered, as thousands did back then,
And called the Clermont's architect the craziest of men.
Yet Franklin gave us wonders great and Fulton did the same,
And many "boobs" have left behind an everlasting fame.
And dead are all their scoffers now and all their sneers forgot
And scarce a nickel's worth of good was brought here by the lot.
I shudder when I stop to think, had I been living then,
I might have been a scoffer, too, and jeered at Bob and Ben.
I am afraid to-day to sneer at any fellow's dream.
Time was I thought men couldn't fly or sail beneath the stream.
I never call a man a boob who toils throughout the night
On visions that I cannot see, because he may be right.
I always think of Franklin's trick, which brought the jeers of men.
And to myself I say, "Who knows but here's another Ben?"
The Pathway of the Living
The pathway of the living is our ever-present care.
Let us do our best to smooth it and to make it bright and fair;
Let us travel it with kindness, let's be careful as we tread,
And give unto the living what we'd offer to the dead.
The pathway of the living we can beautify and grace;
We can line it deep with roses and make earth a happier place.
But we've done all mortals can do, when our prayers are softly said
For the souls of those that travel o'er the pathway of the dead.
The pathway of the living all our strength and courage needs,
There we ought to sprinkle favors, there we ought to sow our deeds,
There our smiles should be the brightest, there our kindest words be said,
For the angels have the keeping of the pathway of the dead.
The world is full of gladness,
There are joys of many kinds,
There's a cure for every sadness,
That each troubled mortal finds.
And my little cares grow lighter
And I cease to fret and sigh,
And my eyes with joy grow brighter
When she makes a lemon pie.
When the bronze is on the filling
That's one mass of shining gold,
And its molten joy is spilling
On the plate, my heart grows bold
And the kids and I in chorus
Raise one glad exultant cry
And we cheer the treat before us
Which is mother's lemon pie.
Then the little troubles vanish,
And the sorrows disappear,
Then we find the grit to banish
All the cares that hovered near,
And we smack our lips in pleasure
O'er a joy no coin can buy,
And we down the golden treasure
Which is known as lemon pie.
The Flag on the Farm
We've raised a flagpole on the farm
And flung Old Glory to the sky,
And it's another touch of charm
That seems to cheer the passer-by,
But more than that, no matter where
We're laboring in wood and field,
We turn and see it in the air,
Our promise of a greater yield.
It whispers to us all day long,
From dawn to dusk: "Be true, be strong;
Who falters now with plow or hoe
Gives comfort to his country's foe."
It seems to me I've never tried
To do so much about the place,
Nor been so slow to come inside,
But since I've got the flag to face,
Each night when I come home to rest
I feel that I must look up there
And say: "Old Flag, I've done my best,
To-day I've tried to do my share."
And sometimes, just to catch the breeze,
I stop my work, and o'er the trees
Old Glory fairly shouts my way:
"You're shirking far too much to-day!"
The help have caught the spirit, too;
The hired man takes off his cap
Before the old red, white and blue,
Then to the horses says: "giddap!"
And starting bravely to the field
He tells the milkmaid by the door:
"We're going to make these acres yield
More than they've ever done before."
She smiles to hear his gallant brag,
Then drops a curtsey to the flag.
And in her eyes there seems to shine
A patriotism that is fine.
We've raised a flagpole on the farm
And flung Old Glory to the sky;
We're far removed from war's alarm,
But courage here is running high.
We're doing things we never dreamed
We'd ever find the time to do;
Deeds that impossible once seemed
Each morning now we hurry through.
The flag now waves above our toil
And sheds its glory on the soil,
And boy and man looks up to it
As if to say: "I'll do my bit!"
There are different kinds of heroes, there are some you hear about.
They get their pictures printed, and their names the newsboys shout;
There are heroes known to glory that were not afraid to die
In the service of their country and to keep the flag on high;
There are brave men in the trenches, there are brave men on the sea,
But the silent, quiet heroes also prove their bravery.
I am thinking of a hero that was never known to fame,
Just a manly little fellow with a very common name;
He was freckle-faced and ruddy, but his head was nobly shaped,
And he one day took the whipping that his comrades all escaped.
And he never made a murmur, never whimpered in reply;
He would rather take the censure than to stand and tell a lie.
And I'm thinking of another that had courage that was fine,
And I've often wished in moments that such strength of will were mine.
He stood against his comrades, and he left them then and there
When they wanted him to join them in a deed that wasn't fair.
He stood alone, undaunted, with his little head erect;
He would ratber take the jeering than to lose his self-respect.
And I know a lot of others that have grown to manhood now,
Who have yet to wear the laurel that adorns the victor's brow.
They have plodded on in honor through the dusty, dreary ways,
They have hungered for life's comforts and the joys of easy days,
But they've chosen to be toilers, and in this their splendor's told:
They would rather never have it than to do some things for gold.
The Mother's Question
When I was a boy, and it chanced to rain,
Mother would always watch for me;
She used to stand by the window pane,
Worried and troubled as she could be.
And this was the question I used to hear,
The very minute that I drew near;
The words she used, I can't forget:
"Tell me, my boy, if your feet are wet."
Worried about me was mother dear,
As healthy a lad as ever strolled
Over a turnpike, far or near,
'Fraid to death that I'd take a cold.
Always stood by the window pane,
Watching for me in the pouring rain;
And her words in my ears are ringing yet:
"Tell me, my boy, if your feet are wet."
Stockings warmed by the kitchen fire,
And slippers ready for me to wear;
Seemed that mother would never tire,
Giving her boy the best of care,
Thinking of him the long day through,
In the worried way that all mothers do;
Whenever it rained she'd start to fret,
Always fearing my feet were wet.
And now, whenever it rains, I see
A vision of mother in days of yore,
Still waiting there to welcome me,
As she used to do by the open door.
And always I think as I enter there
Of a mother's love and a mother's care;
Her words in my ears are ringing yet:
"Tell me, my boy, if your feet are wet."
The Blue Flannel Shirt
I am eager once more to feel easy,
I'm weary of thinking of dress;
I'm heartily sick of stiff collars,
And trousers the tailor must press.
I'm eagerly waiting the glad days--
When fashion will cease to assert
What I must put on every morning--
The days of the blue flannel shirt.
I want to get out in the country
And rest by the side of the lake;
To go a few days without shaving,
And give grim old custom the shake.
A week's growth of whiskers, I'm thinking,
At present my chin wouldn't hurt;
And I'm yearning to don those old trousers
And loaf in that blue flannel shirt.
You can brag all you like of your fashions,
The style of your cutaway coat;
You can boast of your tailor-made raiment,
And the collar that strangles your throat;
But give me the old pair of trousers
That seem to improve with the dirt,
And let me get back to the comfort
That's born of a blue flannel shirt.
My grandpa is the finest man
Excep' my pa. My grandpa can
Make kites an' carts an' lots of things
You pull along the ground with strings,
And he knows all the names of birds,
And how they call 'thout using words,
And where they live and what they eat,
And how they build their nests so neat.
He's lots of fun! Sometimes all day
He comes to visit me and play.
You see he's getting old, and so
To work he doesn't have to go,
And when it isn't raining, he
Drops in to have some fun with me.
He takes my hand and we go out
And everything we talk about.
He tells me how God makes the trees,
And why it hurts to pick up bees.
Sometimes he stops and shows to me
The place where fairies used to be;
And then he tells me stories, too,
And I am sorry when he's through.
When I am asking him for more
He says: "Why there's a candy store!
Let's us go there and see if they
Have got the kind we like to-day."
Then when we get back home my ma
Says: "You are spoiling Buddy, Pa."
My grandpa is my mother's pa,
I guess that's what all grandpas are.
And sometimes ma, all smiles, will say:
"You didn't always act that way.
When I was little, then you said
That children should be sent to bed
And not allowed to rule the place
And lead old folks a merry chase."
And grandpa laughs and says: "That's true,
That's what I used to say to you.
It is a father's place to show
The young the way that they should go,
But grandpas have a different task,
Which is to get them all they ask."
When I get big and old and gray
I'm going to spend my time in play;
I'm going to be a grandpa, too,
And do as all the grandpas do.
I'll buy my daughter's children things
Like horns and drums and tops with strings,
And tell them all about the trees
And frogs and fish and birds and bees
And fairies in the shady glen
And tales of giants, too, and when
They beg of me for just one more,
I'll take them to the candy store;
I'll buy them everything they see
The way my grandpa does for me
Pa Did It
The train of cars that Santa brought is out of kilter now;
While pa was showing how they went he broke the spring somehow.
They used to run around a track--at least they did when he
Would let me take them in my hands an' wind 'em with a key.
I could 'a' had some fun with 'em, if only they would go,
But, gee! I never had a chance, for pa enjoyed em so.
The automobile that I got that ran around the floor
Was lots of fun when it was new, but it won't go no more.
Pa wound it up for Uncle Jim to show him how it went,
And when those two got through with it the runnin' gear was bent,
An' now it doesn't go at all. I mustn't grumble though,
'Cause while it was in shape to run my pa enjoyed it so.
I've got my blocks as good as new, my mitts are perfect yet;
Although the snow is on the ground I haven't got em wet.
I've taken care of everything that Santa brought to me,
Except the toys that run about when wound up with a key.
But next year you can bet I won't make any such mistake;
I'm going to ask for toys an' things that my pa cannot break.
The Real Successes
You think that the failures are many,
You think the successes are few,
But you judge by the rule of the penny,
And not by the good that men do.
You judge men by standards of treasure
That merely obtain upon earth,
When the brother you're snubbing may measure
Full-length to God's standard of worth.
The failures are not in the ditches,
The failures are not in the ranks,
They have missed the acquirement of riches,
Their fortunes are not in the banks.
Their virtues are never paraded,
Their worth is not always in view,
But they're fighting their battles unaided,
And fighting them honestly, too.
There are failures to-day in high places
The failures aren't all in the low;
There are rich men with scorn in their faces
Whose homes are but castles of woe.
The homes that are happy are many,
And numberless fathers are true;
And this is the standard, if any,
By which we must judge what men do.
Wherever loved ones are awaiting
The toiler to kiss and caress,
Though in Bradstreet's he hasn't a rating,
He still is a splendid success.
If the dear ones who gather about him
And know what he's striving to do
Have never a reason to doubt him,
Is he less successful than you?
You think that the failures are many,
You judge by men's profits in gold;
You judge by the rule of the penny--
In this true success isn't told.
This falsely man's story is telling,
For wealth often brings on distress,
But wherever love brightens a dwelling,
There lives; rich or poor, a success.
The Sorry Hostess
She said she was sorry the weather was bad
The night that she asked us to dine;
And she really appeared inexpressibly sad
Because she had hoped 'twould be fine.
She was sorry to hear that my wife had a cold,
And she almost shed tears over that,
And how sorry she was, she most feelingly told,
That the steam wasn't on in the flat.
She was sorry she hadn't asked others to come,
She might just as well have had eight;
She said she was downcast and terribly glum
Because her dear husband was late.
She apologized then for the home she was in,
For the state of the rugs and the chairs,
For the children who made such a horrible din,
And then for the squeak in the stairs.
When the dinner began she apologized twice
For the olives, because they were small;
She was certain the celery, too, wasn't nice,
And the soup didn't suit her at all.
She was sorry she couldn't get whitefish instead
Of the trout that the fishmonger sent,
But she hoped that we'd manage somehow to be fed,
Though her dinner was not what she meant.
She spoke her regrets for the salad, and then
Explained she was really much hurt,
And begged both our pardons again and again
For serving a skimpy dessert.
She was sorry for this and sorry for that,
Though there really was nothing to blame.
But I thought to myself as I put on my hat,
Perhaps she is sorry we came.
I've trod the links with many a man,
And played him club for club;
'Tis scarce a year since I began
And I am still a dub.
But this I've noticed as we strayed
Along the bunkered way,
No one with me has ever played
As he did yesterday.
It makes no difference what the drive,
Together as we walk,
Till we up to the ball arrive,
I get the same old talk:
"To-day there's something wrong with me,
Just what I cannot say.
Would you believe I got a three
For this hole--yesterday?"
I see them top and slice a shot,
And fail to follow through,
And with their brassies plough the lot,
The very way I do.
To six and seven their figures run,
And then they sadly say:
"I neither dubbed, nor foozled one
When I played--yesterday."
I have no yesterdays to count,
No good work to recall;
Each morning sees hope proudly mount,
Each evening sees it fall.
And in the locker room at night,
When men discuss their play,
I hear them and I wish I might
Have seen them--yesterday,
Oh, dear old yesterday! What store
Of joys for men you hold!
I'm sure there is no day that's more
Remembered or extolled.
I'm off my task myself a bit,
My mind has run astray;
I think, perhaps, I should have writ
The Beauty Places
Here she walked and romped about,
And here beneath this apple tree
Where all the grass is trampled out
The swing she loved so used to be.
This path is but a path to you,
Because my child you never knew.
'Twas here she used to stoop to smell
The first bright daffodil of spring;
'Twas here she often tripped and fell
And here she heard the robins sing.
You'd call this but a common place,
But you have never seen her face.
And it was here we used to meet.
How beautiful a spot is this,
To which she gayly raced to greet
Her daddy with his evening kiss!
You see here nothing grand or fine,
But, Oh, what memories are mine!
The people pass from day to day
And never turn their heads to see
The many charms along the way
That mean so very much to me.
For all things here are speaking of
The babe that once was mine to love.
The Little Old Man
The little old man with the curve in his back
And the eyes that are dim and the skin that is slack,
So slack that it wrinkles and rolls on his cheeks,
With a thin little voice that goes "crack!" when he speaks,
Never goes to the store but that right at his feet
Are all of the youngsters who live on the street.
And the little old man in the suit that was black,
And once might have perfectly fitted his back,
Has a boy's chubby fist in his own wrinkled hand,
And together they trudge off to Light-Hearted Land;
Some splendid excursions he gives every day
To the boys and the girls in his funny old way.
The little old man is as queer as can be;
He'd spend all his time with a child on his knee;
And the stories he tells I could never repeat,
But they're always of good boys and little girls sweet;
And the children come home at the end of the day
To tell what the little old man had to say.
Once the little old man didn't trudge to the store,
And the tap of his cane wasn't heard any more;
The children looked eagerly for him each day
And wondered why he didn't come out to play
Till some of them saw Doctor Brown ring his bell,
And they wept when they heard that he might not get well.
But after awhile he got out with his cane,
And called all the children around him again;
And I think as I see him go trudging along
In the center, once more, of his light-hearted throng,
That earth has no glory that's greater than this:
The little old man whom the children would miss.
The Little Velvet Suit
Last night I got to thinkin' of the pleasant long ago,
When I still had on knee breeches, an' I wore a flowing bow,
An' my Sunday suit was velvet. Ma an' Pa thought it was fine,
But I know I didn't like it--either velvet or design;
It was far too girlish for me, for I wanted something rough
Like what other boys were wearing, but Ma wouldn't buy such stuff.
Ma answered all my protests in her sweet an kindly way;
She said it didn't matter what I wore to run an' play,
But on Sundays when all people went to church an wore their best,
Her boy must look as stylish an' as well kept as the rest.
So she dressed me up in velvet, an' she tied the flowing bow,
An' she straightened out my stockings, so that not a crease would show.
An' then I chuckled softly to myself while dreaming there
An' I saw her standing o'er me combing out my tangled hair.
I could feel again the tugging, an' I heard the yell I gave
When she struck a snarl, an' softly I could hear her say: "Be brave.
'Twill be over in a minute, and a little man like you
Shouldn't whimper at a little bit of pain the way you do."
Oh, I wouldn't mind the tugging at my scalp lock, and I know
That I'd gladly wear to please her that old flowing girlish bow;
And I think I'd even try to don once more that velvet suit,
And blush the same old blushes, as the women called me cute,
Could the dear old mother only take me by the hand again,
And be as proud of me right now as she was always then.
The First Steps
Last night I held my arms to you
And you held yours to mine
And started out to march to me
As any soldier fine.
You lifted up our little feet
And laughingly advanced;
And I stood there and gazed upon
Your first wee steps, entranced.
You gooed and gurgled as you came
Without a sign of fear;
As though you knew, your journey o'er,
I'd greet you with a cheer.
And, what is more, you seemed to know,
Although you are so small,
That I was there, with eager arms,
To save you from a fall.
Three tiny steps you took, and then,
Disaster and dismay!
Your over-confidence had led
Your little feet astray.
You did not see what we could see
Nor fear what us alarms;
You stumbled, but ere you could fall
I caught you in my arms.
You little tyke, in days to come
You'll bravely walk alone,
And you may have to wander paths
Where dangers lurk unknown.
And, Oh, I pray that then, as now,
When accidents befall
You'll still remember that I'm near
To save you from a fall.
It's "be a good boy, Willie,"
And it's "run away and play,
For Santa Claus is coming
With his reindeer and his sleigh."
It's "mind what mother tells you,
And it's "put away your toys,
For Santa Claus is coming
To the good girls and the boys."
Ho, Santa Claus is coming, there is Christmas in the air,
And little girls and little boys are good now everywhere.
World-wide the little fellows
Now are sweetly saying "please,"
And "thank you," and "excuse me,
And those little pleasantries
That good children are supposed to
When there's company to hear;
And it's just as plain as can be
That the Christmas time is near.
Ho, it's just as plain as can be that old Santa's on his way,
For there are no little children that are really bad to-day.
And when evening shadows lengthen,
Every little curly head
Now is ready, aye, and willing
To be tucked away in bed;
Not one begs to stay up longer,
Not one even sheds a tear;
Ho, the goodness of the children
Is a sign that Santa's near.
It's wonderful, the goodness of the little tots to-day,
When they know that good old Santa has begun to pack his sleigh.
The Family's Homely Man
There never was a family without its homely man,
With legs a little longer than the ordinary plan,
An' a shock of hair that brush an' comb can't ever straighten out,
An' hands that somehow never seem to know what they're about;
The one with freckled features and a nose that looks as though
It was fashioned by the youngsters from a chunk of mother's dough.
You know the man I'm thinking of, the homely one an' plain,
That fairly oozes kindness like a rosebush dripping rain.
His face is never much to see, but back of it there lies
A heap of love and tenderness and judgment, sound and wise.
And so I sing the homely man that's sittin' in his chair,
And pray that every family will always have him there.
For looks don't count for much on earth; it's hearts that wear the gold;
An' only that is ugly which is selfish, cruel, cold.
The family needs him, Oh, so much; more, maybe, than they know;
Folks seldom guess a man's real worth until he has to go,
But they will miss a heap of love an' tenderness the day
God beckons to their homely man, an' he must go away.
He's found in every family, it doesn't matter where
They live or be they rich or poor, the homely man is there.
You'll find him sitting quiet-like and sort of drawn apart,
As though he felt he shouldn't be where folks are fine an' smart.
He likes to hide himself away, a watcher of the fun,
An' seldom takes a leading part when any game's begun.
But when there's any task to do, like need for extra chairs,
I've noticed it's the homely man that always climbs the stairs.
And always it's the homely man that happens in to mend
The little toys the youngsters break, for he's the children's friend.
And he's the one that sits all night to watch beside the dead,
And sends the worn-out sorrowers and broken hearts to bed.
The family wouldn't be complete without him night or day,
To smooth the little troubles out and drive the cares away.
When Mother Cooked With Wood
I do not quarrel with the gas,
Our modern range is fine,
The ancient stove was doomed to pass
From Time's grim firing line,
Yet now and then there comes to me
The thought of dinners good
And pies and cake that used to be
When mother cooked with wood.
The axe has vanished from the yard,
The chopping block is gone,
There is no pile of cordwood hard
For boys to work upon;
There is no box that must be filled
Each morning to the hood;
Time in its ruthlessness has willed
The passing of the wood.
And yet those days were fragrant days
And spicy days and rare;
The kitchen knew a cheerful blaze
And friendliness was there.
And every appetite was keen
For breakfasts that were good
When I had scarcely turned thirteen
And mother cooked with wood.
I used to dread my daily chore,
I used to think it tough
When mother at the kitchen door
Said I'd not chopped enough.
And on her baking days, I know,
I shirked whene'er I could
In that now happy long ago
When mother cooked with wood.
I never thought I'd wish to see
That pile of wood again;
Back then it only seemed to me
A source of care and pain.
But now I'd gladly give my all
To stand where once I stood,
If those rare days I could recall
When mother cooked with wood.
Midnight in the Pantry
You can boast your round of pleasures, praise the sound of popping corks,
Where the orchestra is playing to the rattle of the forks;
And your after-opera dinner you may think superbly fine,
But that can't compare, I'm certain, to the joy that's always mine
When I reach my little dwelling--source, of all sincere delight--
And I prowl around the pantry in the waning hours of night.
When my business, or my pleasure, has detained me until late,
And it's midnight, say, or after, when I reach my own estate,
Though I'm weary with my toiling I don't hustle up to bed,
For the inner man is hungry and he's anxious to be fed;
Then I feel a thrill of glory from my head down to my feet
As I prowl around the pantry after something good to eat.
Oft I hear a call above me: "Goodness gracious, come to bed!"
And I know that I've disturbed ber by my overeager tread,
But I've found a glass of jelly and some bread and butter, too,
And a bit of cold fried chicken and I answer: "When I'm through!"
Oh, there's no cafe that better serves my precious appetite
Than the pantry in our kitchen when I get home late at night.
You may boast your shining silver, and the linen and the flowers,
And the music and the laughter and the lights that hang in showers;
You may have your cafe table with its brilliant array,
But it doesn't charm yours truly when I'm on my homeward way;
For a greater joy awaits me, as I hunger for a bite--
Just the joy of pantry-prowling in the middle of the night.
The World Is Against Me
"The world is against me," he said with a sigh.
"Somebody stops every scheme that I try.
The world has me down and it's keeping me there;
I don't get a chance. Oh, the world is unfair!
When a fellow is poor then he can't get a show;
The world is determined to keep him down low."
"What of Abe Lincoln?" I asked. "Would you say
That he was much richer than you are to-day?
He hadn't your chance of making his mark,
And his outlook was often exceedingly dark;
Yet he clung to his purpose with courage most grim
And he got to the top. Was the world against him?"