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 Through
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 Families
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, Mud-bespattered 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 rather 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 These verses—yesterday.
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 her 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?"
"What of Ben Franklin? I've oft heard it said That many a time he went hungry to bed. He started with nothing but courage to climb, But patiently struggled and waited his time. He dangled awhile from real poverty's limb, Yet he got to the top. Was the world against him?
"I could name you a dozen, yes, hundreds, I guess, Of poor boys who've patiently climbed to success; All boys who were down and who struggled alone, Who'd have thought themselves rich if your fortune they'd known; Yet they rose in the world you're so quick to condemn, And I'm asking you now, was the world against them?"
I know that what I did was wrong; I should have sent you far away. You tempted me, and I'm not strong; I tried but couldn't answer nay. I should have packed you off to bed; Instead I let you stay awhile, And mother scolded when I said That you had bribed me with your smile.
And yesterday I gave to you Another piece of chocolate cake, Some red-ripe watermelon, too, And that gave you the stomach ache. And that was after I'd been told You'd had enough, you saucy miss; You tempted me, you five-year-old, And bribed me with a hug and kiss.
And mother said I mustn't get You roller skates, yet here they are; I haven't dared to tell her yet; Some time, she says, I'll go too far. I gave my word I wouldn't buy These things, for accidents she fears; Now I must tell, when questioned why, Just how you bribed me with your tears.
I've tried so hard to do the right, Yet I have broken every vow. I let you do, most every night, The things your mother won't allow. I know that I am doing wrong, Yet all my sense of honor flies, The moment that you come along And bribe me with those wondrous eyes.
The Home Builders
The world is filled with bustle and with selfishness and greed, It is filled with restless people that are dreaming of a deed. You can read it in their faces; they are dreaming of the day When they'll come to fame and fortune and put all their cares away. And I think as I behold them, though it's far indeed they roam, They will never find contentment save they seek for it at home.
I watch them as they hurry through the surging lines of men, Spurred to speed by grim ambition, and I know they're dreaming then. They are weary, sick and footsore, but their goal seems far away, And it's little they've accomplished at the ending of the day. It is rest they're vainly seeking, love and laughter in the gloam, But they'll never come to claim it, save they claim it here at home.
For the peace that is the sweetest isn't born of minted gold, And the joy that lasts the longest and still lingers when we're old Is no dim and distant pleasure—it is not to-morrow's prize, It is not the end of toiling, or the rainbow of our sighs. It' is every day within us—all the rest is hippodrome— And the soul that is the gladdest is the soul that builds a home.
They are fools who build for glory! They are fools who pin their hopes On the come and go of battles or some vessel's slender ropes. They shall sicken and shall wither and shall never peace attain Who believe that real contentment only men victorious gain. For the only happy toilers under earth's majestic dome Are the ones who find their glories in the little spot called home.
My Books and I
My books and I are good old pals: My laughing books are gay, Just suited for my merry moods When I am wont to play. Bill Nye comes down to joke with me And, Oh, the joy he spreads. Just like two fools we sit and laugh And shake our merry heads.
When I am in a thoughtful mood, With Stevenson I sit, Who seems to know I've had enough Of Bill Nye and his wit. And so, more thoughtful than I am, He talks of lofty things, And thus an evening hour we spend Sedate and grave as kings.
And should my soul be torn with grief Upon my shelf I find A little volume, torn and thumbled, For comfort just designed. I take my little Bible down And read its pages o'er, And when I part from it I find I'm stronger than before.
I hold no dream of fortune vast, Nor seek undying fame. I do not ask when life is past That many know my name.
I may not own the skill to rise To glory's topmost height, Nor win a place among the wise, But I can keep the right.
And I can live my life on earth Contented to the end, If but a few shall know my worth And proudly call me friend.
Would you sell your boy for a stack of gold? Would you miss that hand that is yours to hold? Would you take a fortune and never see The man, in a few brief years, he'll be? Suppose that his body were racked with pain, How much would you pay for his health again?
Is there money enough in the world to-day To buy your boy? Could a monarch pay You silver and gold in so large a sum That you'd have him blinded or stricken dumb? How much would you take, if you had the choice, Never to hear, in this world, his voice?
How much would you take in exchange for all The joy that is wrapped in that youngster small? Are there diamonds enough in the mines of earth To equal your dreams of that youngster's worth? Would you give up the hours that he's on your knee The richest man in the world to be?
You may prate of gold, but your fortune lies, And you know it well, in your boy's bright eyes. And there's nothing that money can buy or do That means so much as that boy to you. Well, which does the most of your time employ, The chase for gold—or that splendid boy?
You may brag about your breakfast foods you eat at break of day, Your crisp, delightful shavings and your stack of last year's hay, Your toasted flakes of rye and corn that fairly swim in cream, Or rave about a sawdust mash, an epicurean dream. But none of these appeals to me, though all of them I've tried— The breakfast that I liked the best was sausage mother fried.
Old country sausage was its name; the kind, of course, you know, The little links that seemed to be almost as white as snow, But turned unto a ruddy brown, while sizzling in the pan; Oh, they were made both to appease and charm the inner man. All these new-fangled dishes make me blush and turn aside, When I think about the sausage that for breakfast mother fried.
When they roused me from my slumbers and I left to do the chores, It wasn't long before I breathed a fragrance out of doors That seemed to grip my spirit, and to thrill my body through, For the spice of hunger tingled, and 'twas then I plainly knew That the gnawing at my stomach would be quickly satisfied By a plate of country sausage that my dear old mother fried.
There upon the kitchen table, with its cloth of turkey red, Was a platter heaped with sausage and a plate of home-made bread, And a cup of coffee waiting—not a puny demitasse That can scarcely hold a mouthful, but a cup of greater class; And I fell to eating largely, for I could not be denied— Oh, I'm sure a king would relish the sausage mother fried.
Times have changed and so have breakfasts; now each morning when I see A dish of shredded something or of flakes passed up to me, All my thoughts go back to boyhood, to the days of long ago, When the morning meal meant something more than vain and idle show. And I hunger, Oh, I hunger, in a way I cannot hide, For a plate of steaming sausage like the kind my mother fried.
Ain't it fine when things are going Topsy-turvy and askew To discover someone showing Good old-fashioned faith in you?
Ain't it good when life seems dreary And your hopes about to end, Just to feel the handclasp cheery Of a fine old loyal friend?
Gosh! one fellow to another Means a lot from day to day, Seems we're living for each other In a friendly sort of way.
When a smile or cheerful greetin' Means so much to fellows sore, Seems we ought to keep repeatin' Smiles an' praises more an' more.
A Boost for Modern Methods
In some respects the old days were perhaps ahead of these, Before we got to wanting wealth and costly luxuries; Perhaps the world was happier then, I'm not the one to say, But when it's zero weather I am glad I live to-day.
Old-fashioned winters I recall—the winters of my youth— I have no great desire for them to-day, I say in truth; The frost upon the window panes was beautiful to see, But the chill upon that bedroom floor was not a joy to me.
I do not now recall that it was fun in those days when I woke to learn the water pipes were frozen tight "again." To win once more the old-time joys, I don't believe I'd care To have to sleep, for comfort's sake, dressed in my underwear.
Old-fashioned winters had their charms, a fact I can't deny, But after all I'm really glad that they have wandered by; We used to tumble out of bed, like firemen, I declare, And grab our clothes and hike down stairs and finish dressing there.
Yes, brag about those days of old, boast of them as you will, I sing the modern methods that have robbed them of their chill; I sing the cheery steam pipe and the upstairs snug and warm And a spine that's free from shivers as I robe my manly form.
The Man to Be
Some day the world will need a man of courage in a time of doubt, And somewhere, as a little boy, that future hero plays about. Within some humble home, no doubt, that instrument of greater things Now climbs upon his father's knee or to his mother's garments clings. And when shall come that call for him to render service that is fine, He that shall do God's mission here may be your little boy or mine.
Long years of preparation mark the pathway for the splendid souls, And generations live and die and seem no nearer to their goals, And yet the purpose of it all, the fleeting pleasure and the woe, The laughter and the grief of life that all who come to earth must know May be to pave the way for one—one man to serve the Will Divine And it is possible that he may be your little boy or mine.
Some day the world will need a man! I stand beside his cot at night And wonder if I'm teaching him, as best I can, to know the right. I am the father of a boy—his life is mine to make or mar— And he no better can become than what my daily teachings are; There will be need for someone great—I dare not falter from the line— The man that is to serve the world may be that little boy of mine.
Perhaps your boy and mine may not ascend the lofty heights of fame; The orders for their births are hid. We know not why to earth they came. Yet in some little bed to-night the great man of to-morrow sleeps And only He who sent him here, the secret of his purpose keeps. As fathers then our care is this—to keep in mind the Great Design. The man the world shall need some day may be your little boy or mine.
The Summer Children
I like 'em, in the winter when their cheeks are slightly pale, I like 'em in the spring time when the March winds blow a gale; But when summer suns have tanned 'em and they're racing to and fro, I somehow think the children make the finest sort of show.
When they're brown as little berries and they're bare of foot and head, And they're on the go each minute where the velvet lawns are spread, Then their health is at its finest and they never stop to rest, Oh, it's then I think the children look and are their very best.
We've got to know the winter and we've got to know the spring, But for children, could I do it, unto summer I would cling; For I'm happiest when I see 'em, as a wild and merry band Of healthy, lusty youngsters that the summer sun has tanned.
Days are gettin' shorter an' the air a keener snap; Apples now are droppin' into Mother Nature's lap; The mist at dusk is risin' over valley, marsh an' fen An' it's just as plain as sunshine, winter's comin' on again.
The turkeys now are struttin' round the old farmhouse once more; They are done with all their nestin', and their hatchin' days are o'er; Now the farmer's cuttin' fodder for the silo towerin' high An' he's frettin' an' complainin' 'cause the corn's a bit too dry.
But the air is mighty peaceful an' the scene is good to see, An' there's somethin' in October that stirs deep inside o' me; An' I just can't help believin' in a God above us, when Everything is ripe for harvest an the frost is back again.
How much grit do you think you've got? Can you quit a thing that you like a lot? You may talk of pluck; it's an easy word, And where'er you go it is often heard; But can you tell to a jot or guess Just how much courage you now possess?
You may stand to trouble and keep your grin, But have you tackled self-discipline? Have you ever issued commands to you To quit the things that you like to do, And then, when tempted and sorely swayed, Those rigid orders have you obeyed?
Don't boast of your grit till you've tried it out, Nor prate to men of your courage stout, For it's easy enough to retain a grin In the face of a fight there's a chance to win, But the sort of grit that is good to own Is the stuff you need when you're all alone.
How much grit do you think you've got? Can you turn from joys that you like a lot? Have you ever tested yourself to know How far with yourself your will can go? If you want to know if you have grit, Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit.
It's bully sport and it's open fight; It will keep you busy both day and night; For the toughest kind of a game you'll find Is to make your body obey your mind. And you never will know what is meant by grit Unless there's something you've tried to quit.
The Price of Riches
Nobody stops at the rich man's door to pass the time of day. Nobody shouts a "hello!" to him in the good old-fashioned way. Nobody comes to his porch at night and sits in that extra chair And talks till it's time to go to bed. He's all by himself up there.
Nobody just happens in to call on the long, cold winter nights. Nobody feels that he's welcome now, though the house is ablaze with lights. And never an unexpected guest will tap at his massive door And stay to tea as he used to do, for his neighborly days are o'er.
It's a distant life that the rich man leads and many an hour is glum, For never the neighbors call on him save when they are asked to come. At heart he is just as he used to be and he longs for his friends of old, But they never will venture unbidden there. They're afraid of his wall of gold.
For silver and gold in a large amount there's a price that all men must pay, And who will dwell in a rich man's house must live in a lonely way. For once you have builded a fortune vast you will sigh for the friends you knew But never they'll tap at your door again in the way that they used to do.
The Other Fellow
Whose luck is better far than ours? The other fellow's. Whose road seems always lined with flowers? The other fellow's. Who is the man who seems to get Most joy in life, with least regret, Who always seems to win his bet? The other fellow.
Who fills the place we think we'd like? The other fellow. Whom does good fortune always strike? The other fellow. Whom do we envy, day by day? Who has more time than we to play? Who is it, when we mourn, seems gay? The other fellow.
Who seems to miss the thorns we find? The other fellow. Who seems to leave us all behind? The other fellow. Who never seems to feel the woe, The anguish and the pain we know? Who gets the best seats at the show? The other fellow.
And yet, my friend, who envies you? The other fellow. Who thinks he gathers only rue? The other fellow. Who sighs because he thinks that he Would infinitely happier he, If he could be like you or me? The other fellow.
The Open Fire
There in the flame of the open grate, All that is good in the past I see: Red-lipped youth on the swinging gate, Bright-eyed youth with its minstrelsy; Girls and boys that I used to know, Back in the days of Long Ago, Troop before in the smoke and flame, Chatter and sing, as the wild birds do. Everyone I can call by name, For the fire builds all of my youth anew.
Outside, people go stamping by, Squeak of wheel on the evening air, Stars and planets race through the sky, Here are darkness and silence rare; Only the flames in the open grate Crackle and flare as they burn up hate, Malice and envy and greed for gold, Dancing, laughing my cares away; I've forgotten that I am old, Once again I'm a boy at play.
There in the flame of the open grate Bright the pictures come and go; Lovers swing on the garden gate, Lovers kiss 'neath the mistletoe. I've forgotten that I am old, I've forgotten my story's told; Whistling boy down the lane I stroll, All untouched by the blows of fate, Time turns back and I'm young of soul, Dreaming there by the open grate.
The joy of life is living it, or so it seems to me; In finding shackles on your wrists, then struggling till you're free; In seeing wrongs and righting them, in dreaming splendid dreams, Then toiling till the vision is as real as moving streams. The happiest mortal on the earth is he who ends his day By leaving better than he found to bloom along the way.
Were all things perfect here there would be naught for man to do; If what is old were good enough we'd never need the new. The only happy time of rest is that which follows strife And sees some contribution made unto the joy of life. And he who has oppression felt and conquered it is he Who really knows the happiness and peace of being free.
The miseries of earth are here and with them all must cope. Who seeks for joy, through hedges thick of care and pain must grope. Through disappointment man must go to value pleasure's thrill; To really know the joy of health a man must first be ill. The wrongs are here for man to right, and happiness is had By striving to supplant with good the evil and the bad.
The joy of life is living it and doing things of worth, In making bright and fruitful all the barren spots of earth. In facing odds and mastering them and rising from defeat, And making true what once was false, and what was bitter, sweet. For only he knows perfect joy whose little bit of soil Is richer ground than what it was when he began to toil.
Send Her a Valentine
Send her a valentine to say You love her in the same old way. Just drop the long familiar ways And live again the old-time days When love was new and youth was bright And all was laughter and delight, And treat her as you would if she Were still the girl that used to be.