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The Best Works of Edgar A. Guest A Heap O LivinAll That MattersJust FolksOver HereThe Path to HomeWhen Day is Done
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The Best Collection of Edgar A. Guest
A Heap O Livin
All That Matters
The Path to Home
When Day is Done
A Heap o' Livin' by 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 carefree 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. 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
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 womenfolks
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 'emallus
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
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 thumbmarks
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
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
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
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 hideThey'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
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
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
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
packDancin' up an' down an' shoutin': "Mr. Riley's
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
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
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 everlasting
sweet; The world is robed in sadness an' is draped in
sombre black; But joy must reign in Heaven now that Riley's
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
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 frangrant time of year When fruit-cannin' days are here.
There's a good wife gaylysmilin'
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 fareWhene'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
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
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
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,
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