Modernist Canadian Poets
Chuckles From Home
17th Dec 2013Posted in: Modernist Canadian Poets 0

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Chuckles From Home
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CHUCKLES FROM HOME
[illustration]

By Harold S. Wood


 First edition, 1930
The Reliance Press, Toronto
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To my Mother, my
Father and my
Wife this little
volume is
affectionately dedicated
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FOREWORD
In presenting this little
volume of verse I would
like to thank those whose
encouragement helped me
so much in my efforts, particularly
Mr. G. H. Maitland
of the Toronto Daily Star
for his many kindly criticisms
and F.E.D.  whose
sincere faith will never be
forgotten.
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 INDEX

Baby Bruvver

31

Bad Boy, The

27

Behind the Counters

18

Billy’s Pome

58

Daddy’s Cavalier

59

Dear Mr. Stork

60

Dear Santy Claus

57

Eileen

39

Father and Son

61

Friendship

23

God’s Gift

36

Goodnight Kiss, The

51

Home That Mother Planned, The

49

It Happened At

63

Just Thinkin’

13

Laborer, The

43

Lesson, The

66

Life’s Troubles

14

Little Mr. Question Box

46

Little Saint, The

66

Little Stranger, The

42

Little Wife

55

Marriage

15

Mother

45

My Paw

50

My Wish

52

New Uncle, The

20

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Old Hometown, The

41

Optimists, The

53

Out Golfing

19

Pa Talks About Apple Time

26

Pa’s Story

21

Pa’s Yearly Ambition

67

Proud Father

17

Road to Home, The

11

Sonny

56

Success

62

Sweetest of All, The

32

That Place Called Home

64

To Jack Guest

35

To the Nurses

30

What’s the Use

24

When Dad Played Mother

47

When Day is Done

69

When Pa’s Around

34

Willie’s Report

38

Wishes

37

Your Job

12

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THE ROAD TO HOME

There’s a road I like to travel
When the busy day is through,
Where the sun is always friendly
And the skies are always blue,
‘Tis the road that leads me homeward
Where the little children gay
With their brooms of happy laughter
Sweep the petty cares away.

Oh, that pathway holds more gladness
Than this heart of mine can sing
As my happy thoughts soar onward
And my captive soul takes wing,
Winging quickly on before me
To that little place I know
Where the rarest gems of heaven
Shed their brightness here below.

And though I may think my efforts
Through the day have been in vain
And I’ve made a mess of living,
There my faith comes back again.
There dark gloom is chased with laughter
Morbid thoughts are chased with glee
And I feel, well, mighty thankful
That my life belongs to me. [page 11]

YOUR JOB

Give it the best,
Though you feel more like quitting.
Face it with zest,
Though it doesn’t seem fair.
Do it with a will,
Though there isn’t much praising.
Each man must till
Ere he gets anywhere.

Steadfastly stand,
Though the fight you seem losing.
All through the land
There are men who have won,
Building a road
Virgin timbered and lonely,
Bearing their load
Ever facing the sun.

Stay with it, man,
Though you’re weakened and weary.
Say that you can
And you will, never fear,
God made life’s hills,
Then he made men His Likeness,
Giving them wills
For the fights that are here. [page 12]

JUST THINKIN’

Last night when we had finished tea
An’ I was sittin’ still
An’ mums was busy darnin’ holes
Beside the window sill,

Pa said, “What’s wrong with you to-night”
You’re quiet as a mouse,
What mischief are you planning now
To bring upon this house?”

An’ I said, “Gee, there’s nothin’ wrong
Fer I was only thinkin’
Who takes away the winks we make
When we have finished winkin’?

“An’ I would like to know,” I said
“What happens when we’re through
With all the millyun words we say
An’ where do they go to?

“An’ who’s the man that comes along
An’ takes away the light?
An’ where did yesterday go to
When it got dark last night?

“An’ where do all the mornin’s go
When it come afternoon?
An’ if stars are fairies’ eyes
Then whose eye is the moon?

An’ what,” —— “Well, that’s enough,” pa said
“You’re much too smart for me,
Just think and think and think and think
But leave, oh, leave me be.” [page 13]

LIFE’S TROUBLES

There are times when I get gloomy,
Feel this life has passed me by,
Let my heart grow cold with envy,
Sit about and mope and sigh,
Think of dreams I held in youth-time,
How they disappeared from sight
Like the stars that dot the heavens
When they see the dawn of light;

Feel that if I had the making
Of this world, I’d draw a plan
So the sun would shine forever
Deep within the heart of man.
I would keep the clouds from blocking
All the heaven’s wondrous blue
And I’d make the rays of gladness
Bright and warm this whole life through.

Then I get to analyzing
All these faults of mine and see
What a mess I’d make in planning
If the job was left to me.
For if all the sky above us
Was forever painted blue
There would be no earthly garden
To drink in the morning dew.

And if all Life’s cares and troubles
And the bitterness and pain
From this life of ours were taken
And were dungeoned with the rain,
There would be no rays of gladness
For you always have to meet
With a share of mortal sorrow
To appreciate the sweet. [page 14]

Just the same as hills and valleys
And wonders of the soil
Help to keep a jaunt for pleasure
From becoming one of toil.
Oh, we very soon would weary
Of this life from day to day
If we suffered nought of trouble
And of hurt upon the way.

As the heavens scowl most fiercely
Ere the rainbow lights the earth,
So must man feel pain and sorrow
To appreciate life’s worth.
And when time has bound our troubles
With its gauze of after-years,
Often times we see a rainbow
Where we once saw only tears.

MARRIAGE

I’ve heard men say they would rather wait
Before they enter the wedded state
Until the world would applaud their name
And they had nuggets of wealth and fame.
“No strings to us,” I have heard them say,
“Until we’re firmly upon our way;
We couldn’t ask of a future wife
To share our battles of care and strife.”

But, oh, the joy that is never theirs,
These men who shudder at marriage cares,
These men who balance the worldly things,
Who learn so late how the love-bird sings,
Who never heard from a young wife’s heart
The cheering message of love’s sweet dart,
Who never heard, when their day was done,
“I love you,” whether they lost or won; [page 15]

Who never stood up against the wall
And battled forward at love’s staunch call;
Who never, when in life’s youthful bloom,
Stole softly into a baby’s room
And felt emotions that seemed divine
And whispered proudly, “You’re hers and mine,”
And stood up firmly with steel-like eye
And whispered fiercely youth’s battle cry!

Perhaps I’m weak in philosophy
But here’s love’s game as it looks to me:
If you have health and a maiden’s heart,
A bank book showing you’ve made a start,
A background free from the clutch of shame,
An honest smile and an honest name,
A will to do and a pair of eyes
That search for blue in the clouded skies,

A heart that feels it can meet defeat
And keep on functioning beat by beat,
And not cry out in the coward’s shout
And tell the world what it’s all about,
Then I would say you are qualified
To change your pace to the wedding stride,
For ‘tis not age nor a gem-crowned dome
But love and courage that make the home [page 16]

PROUD FATHER

There’s a look in his eyes that is new to his friends,
There’s a swagger of pride in his walk,
There’s a button or two broken off from his vest
And there’s boastfulness now in his talk.

Oh, he hums and he sings and he whistles all day
And he laughs at his burdens of care,
And he struts from his work when his hard day is through
With an “I own the world, fellows” air.

Oh, he’s rich as a millionaire, proud as a king,
And he wouldn’t trade jobs for a throne,
Though his work is but toiling from morning till night
And but little of wealth does he own.

He has something more precious than wealth can command,
For each night when the long day is done
There’s a brand new wee mother to greet with a kiss
And there’s eight pounds of brand new wee son. [page 17]

BEHIND THE COUNTERS

Behind the counters day by day
The toilers meet the passing throng,
And though their hearts may heavy be
Their eyes must ever sing a song.

There moves a woman, haughty, proud,
Who lives but for life’s selfish gains,
There moves a man whose insults burn,
Whose chief delight is causing pains.

And yet no matter what may come,
The workers toil from day to day 
And hide their heartaches with a smile
That is the noble game they play.

Theirs is the task of camouflage,
For the must laugh at tear-drops near,
And they must change a sob or sigh
Into a happy gladsome cheer.

And though within their breasts a heart
Is throbbing madly at life’s care,
Theirs is to act that we may see
None of the wounds that ache in there.

But, oh, the glory that is theirs,
Those counter-folk, at set of sun,
To know how well they’ve played their part
And kept their faith till day is done.

For though their paths are hard to tread,
For though their sun is a but a ray,
Theirs is the noble game in life
That God would have all mortals play. [page 18]

OUT GOLFING

It doesn’t matter what your name
Out golfing;
If rich or poor it’s just the same
Out golfing.
In business you may boast the sight
Of fact’ries working day and night,
But when you stand upon the tee
It isn’t “He’s the great Magee.”
Instead in whispers they will say,
“He’ll dub his drive again today,”
Out golfing.

You may have millions to command.
Out golfing;
Your clubs the finest in the land
Out golfing;
But if you take a hefty swing
And then you miss the blinkin’ thing,
You’ll find no “Yes” men standing near
To lend a sympathetic ear,
‘Twill be more likely, “what a mess—
That bird should play a game of chess.”
Out golfing.

Your plus-fours may be worked with gold
Out golfing,
Your shoes the finest that are sold,
Out golfing.
But when you make a noble swing
And lift the sod and ev’rything,
It doesn’t matter how you call,
Your wealth means nothing to the ball;
Your mashie niblick doesn’t care
If you own virgin timbers rare,
Out golfing. [page 19]

Oh, that’s what makes the days so fine
Out golfing;
For all men toe the self-same line
Out golfing.
There are no proud conventions there,
Companionship is everywhere,
The rich man and the poorer find
There are no grades in humankind
There pride and hatred quickly end
And each one greets a new-found friend
Out golfing.

THE NEW UNCLE

My dog is an uncle now,
‘Coz his sister Grace
Bought some puppies yesterday
At my auntie’s place.

I can hardly ‘magine it,
Just to think that he
Should have someone call him that
Long ‘fore even me.

Now I guess that when I call,
‘Stead of shoutin’ “Bill,”
He’ll feel hurt if I don’t say,
“Come here, ‘Uncle Will’!” [page 20]

PA’S STORY

My Pa he is the bravest man
   That ever is er was
Ain’t nothin’ he’s afraid to fight
   Ner ‘fraid to do because
He told me so his very self,
   “My boy,” he says to me,
“I’ll tell you just how brave I am—
   Come perch upon my knee.”

So I climbed up an’ set real still
   An’ he said, “Now one day,
(If I remember rightly, son,
   ‘Twas in the month of May)
I heard a noise at our front door
   For someone rang the bell
And so I went and answered it
   And said, ‘come in a spell.’

“‘But ‘fore I ask you gentlemen
   To rest upon my chairs
I’d like to know just who you are.’
   They answered, ‘Millyunaires.
We’ve heard you are a fearless man,
   A fighter brave and free
And so we’ve come to ask you, sir,
   To end our misery. [page 21]

“‘We’d like to visit Africa,
   But first we’d like to find
If elephants when they go mad
   Do really lose their mind,
And we would also like to learn
   If lions have a wife,
And if the monkeys ever try
   To eat peas with a knife.’

“Now as you know, my boy,” said Pa,
   “’Twould take me many years
To do the things they asked me to
   And thus dispel their fears.
And as the things they asked of me
   Proved I was brave, you know,
Why I was more than satisfied
   And so I didn’t go.” 

“My dear,” said Ma, who sat close by,
   “They should have come to me
And I’d have answered what they asked
   In questions two and three.”
“If you’re so very clever, dear,
   Then tell me how,” said Pa.
“In answer the lion one,
   I married you,” said Ma.

“All right, I’ll let you win that one,
   But what’s the next?” laughed Pa.
“Why, we had peas to-night, my dear—
   You used your knife,” said Ma. [page 22]

FRIENDSHIP

There is nothing quite so cheery,
   When the working day is through,
As to feel the hand of friendship
 And to know that friendship’s true.

Man may spend his life in seeking
That elusive thing called fame;
He may live to hear the thousands
   Madly calling out his name.

He may count his wealth in figures
 That a king cannot command;
He may see his forces working
  On the sea and on the land.

But behind convention’s make-up,
  He’s the same as you and I;
There is something wealth and riches
  In this life can never buy.

‘Tis the handclasp of true friendship.
  ‘Tis the knowing you’ve a friend
Who through fame or wealth or hardship
  Will stand by you to the end. [page 23]

WHAT’S THE USE?

What’s the use of always groaning
    Always sighing at your fate
Always grieving for those chances
    That you recognized too late?

What’s the use of looking backward
    At the weeds of yesterday
Standing watching as they strangle
    Hopes and dreams that once held sway?

What’s the use of straining shoulders
    With a load of discontent
With the petrified ambition
    Of a dissolusionment?

What’s the use of coaxing darkness
    ‘Neath the sun’s bright smiling face,
Striving hard to choke your heartbeats
    To the failure’s sluggish pace?

What’s the use of selling heartaches
    To the ones you hold dear,
To the ones who crowd the sidelines
    With a faith unending cheer? [page 24]

What’s the use, I ask, of glancing
    At the barren fields of yore
As you stand upon the threshold
    At the future’s open door?

What’s the use of planting worry?
    It just grows and grows and grows
‘Till its branches harbor heartaches
    And a thousand other woes.

There’s a roadway straight before you
    And as far as eye can see
There are chances, chances, chances,
    For the likes of you and me.

Straighten up those drooping shoulders,
    Chase that sighing with a song,
Turn your head and look before you
    Choose a goal and get along. [page 25]

PA TALKS ABOUT APPLE TIME

Last night when we was finished eatin’ supper (which was swell)
Pa said, “Since that fine meal is through, I guess I’ll read a spell,
I s’pose there’s still a lot of news about the diff’rent tricks
Chief Draper used in curbing them long-whiskered Bolsheevicks
Well, Well! What’s this I see? Say, Ma, here’s something done in rhyme
By some poor struggling poet an’ it’s titled ‘Apple Time.’

“It goes like this, ‘Remember in the good old yesterday,
When we was happy carefree boys an’ roamed youth’s bright highway,
‘Twas just about this time o’ year, if I recall it right,
The gang of us would gather ‘neath the only village light
Where after much discussion we would all at last agree
That Deacon Jones’s orchard had the “swellest” apple tree.’

“By George, Ma, that there poet sure brings back my youth,” Pa said,
“For ev’ry line he’s written hits the nail right on the head.
An’ listen how he ends it up. He says, ‘An’ though to-day
The little town I loved so well is many miles away
It takes but moments to go back and in the moonlight see
Those heavy-ladened branches of the Deacon’s apple tree.’ [page 26]

“By George,” said Pa, “I think I’ll have to phone up Bill to-night;
He’ll get a kick from reading that or I’m not guessing right.”
Well, just before you do,” said Ma, “I wish that you’d find out
Who’s prowling ‘round in our back yard an’ what they are about.”
“All right, I’ll go,” said Pa to Ma, “if it will ease your mind,
Although a bunch of laughing boys is all that I will find.”

But when he opened our back door, he gave an awful shout,
An’ said, “You little thieving brats, get down an’ clear right out.”
An’ then he came back in again, as mad as he could be,
An’ said, “Those kids have taken ev’ry apple on our tree!
By George, what’s this world coming to,” said Pa. “The thing’s a crime!”
“Perhaps they’re future poets,” answered Ma, “in search of a rhyme!”

THE BAD BOY

My daddy said wasn’t long ago
   When he was as big as me
He knowed a boy who used to tease
   Most ev’ry girl he’d see.
When school was out he’d hide until
   The girls would pass him by
An ‘nen he’d jump an’ yell so loud
 He’d scare them till they cry. [page 27]
In course they’d tell his mother an’
  They’d tell his teacher too
But they was nothin’ in this world
   What anyone could do.
Coz whippin’s wouldn’t stop him ner
 Would being sent to bed
Ner standin’ in the classroom with
  A dunce hat on his head.
But late one night when it got dark
   An’ ev’rythin’ was still
He heard an’ awful funny noise
   Upon his window sill,
An’ he waked up real quick an’ looked
 An’ standin’ there he seen
The mostest awf’lest lookin’ girl
  What there has even been.
At first he couldn’t do a thing
   But just lay there an’ look
(My daddy said the reason was
 Most all his break was took)
An’ then she started walkin’ slow
  Right over to his bed
An’ when she got there them big eyes
   Looked right at him an’ said,
“Are you the boy who teases girls
 An’ makes them stop their play,
An’ pulls their hair an’ chases them
  Most nearly ev’ry day?”
An’ quick he said, “No, I ain’t him,”
  But she just growled an’ said,
“I know yer him an’ so fer that
   Don’t dare move from that bed.”
An’ nen she clapped her hands an’ nen
   There was a funny sound
An’ nen there was a milyun girls
   A standin’ all around [page 28]
An’ Johnny he got scared an’ cried
 “What are you gonna do?”
An’ they all cried as loud as loud
  “Make mince pie out of you.”
An’ that made Johnny awful scared
   An’ so he cried, “Oh, please, 
I promise if you won’t eat me
   I’ll never never tease.”
At first they all looked fierce an’ said
 “No, you’ve been much too bad
Besides you’ll make the nicest pie
  That we have ever had.”
An’ Johnny he just cried an’ cried
   Coz he though, Golly Gee,
If they do that why then they won’t
   Be nothin’ left of me.
An’ when they seen how bad he felt
 They said, “then promise true
That girls need never be afraid
  Whenever they pass you.”
An’ so he said, “I’ll never more
   Tease any girls I see
If you will only go away
   An’ not make pie of me.”
An’ soon as he had finished up
 From saying what he said
They went away an’ nen he seen
  His mums beside his bed
An’ nen he told her all about
   The girls what he had seen
An’ how he had promised he would be 
   The bestest boy there’s been
An’ after that my daddy says
 He was as good as gold
An’ never teased the girls no more
  An’ never acted bold. [page 29]

TO THE NURSES

How many, many times when as a boy
    I closed my eyes and builded dreams at night!
Dreams of those mystic regions of the skies,
    Dreams of God’s angels dressed in purest white.

How many, many times I watched them come
    Upon the rays of moonlight down to me
And play upon the flower printed walls
    In those glad blithesome days of “used to be.”

Then came the time when I could dream no more
For worldly things had come to haunt my nights,
My mind was girded with those concrete things
    Ambition pointed out the earthly heights

And I forgot those early dreams of mine
    Until one night a knock at my door,
In frantic haste I opened it and there
    I recognized as an angel of yore!

Gowned in a dress of purest white she stood
    The moonlight placed a halo ‘round her hair,
Her eyes gazed into mine and seemed to lift
    The ache within my heart, the stark despair.

Oh, I have not the genius enough
    To pen in rhyme her tenderness and worth,
But this I say in all sincerity
    The Lord must send his angels here to earth.

Installing in their hearts that yearning fine
    That sends them to the sick in times of need,
Oh, nurses gowned in white and holiness
    Your value here on earth is great indeed. [page 30]

BABY BRUVVER

I’se got a baby bruvver an’ I’d love to have a peep
But Ma won’t never let me look when he is fast asleep,
She says that I would wake him up from playin’ in the sky
With the angels an’ with the fairies an’ that I might make him cry
The other mornin’ when my Ma was washin’ out a dress,
I stealed upstairs to take a look; I didn’t think she’d guess,
I couldn’t see him in his cot so I climbed upon a chair,
My! He looked just like a dolly as he lay sleepin’ there.

I felt his tiny little hand an’ felt his tiny feet
An’ longed to hug an’ kiss him then becoz he looked so sweet,
I wondered what it would be like to hold him close to me—
I put my arms around him just to see how it would be,
And then I thought it would be nice to lift him to the top,
But he was awful heavy an’ I had to let him drop.
I didn’t think I’d hurt him, but I must’ve awful bad,
Becoz he cried just somethin’ fierce, like I do when I’m mad.
An’ Ma she stopped her washin’ quick, an’ hurried right up there
An’ caught me just as I had finished climbin’ off the chair, [page 31]
An’ when she saw I was the one who made the baby yell
She took me firmly ‘cross her knee, an’—guess I mustn’t tell,
It’s somethin’ that she does to me when I have made her cross,
She says it’s just to let me know that she’s the one who’s boss
But I don’t care how much she hurt ‘coz I had stealed a peep
At little baby bruvver as he lay there fast asleep.

THE SWEETEST OF ALL

The sweetest music I’ve ever heard
Is not the song of the mocking bird,
’Tis not the music of masters rare
The fruit from lifetimes of toil and care,
’Tis not the song from the throat of man
Nor dreams I’ve held of the Great God Pan,
Oh, no, for while I confess they’re fine
The notes that captures this heart of mine
Came not from masters of hall and glade
But came from a cot where baby played.

Do you not recall how your stature grew
As you proudly gaze in those eyes of blue
And felt that gladness of things divine
That sent the thrills up and down your spine,
And made you shout to your wife below [page 32]
To rush upstairs for the greatest show,
And made you feel that you’d like to cry
To the folks outside who were passing by
And tell them all neither man nor bird
Could rival music that you’d just heard?

And how each time that a friend would call
You’d quickly corner him in the hall,
And then how sadly you would relate
In tones of gloom he came too late
The sight he’d missed in the baby’s room
When tiny cheeks blossomed out in bloom,
Blossomed as no other cheeks had done
Since God made babies and earth and sun,
And then from the tiny throat
You’d heard babe carol an angel note.

Oh, man-made music I must agree,
Has thrilled the heart and the soul of me.
And down God’s lanes in the month of June
When feathered folk trill that earth’s in tune
I’ve stood and listened in worship there
And thanked my God in a wonder-prayer;
But, oh, the finest of thrills I got
Was when I stood by a tiny cot
And heard the laughter from love’s sweet dart
That sank to rest in my father heart. [page 33]

WHEN PA’S AROUND

Gee, I ain’t afraid of a noise in the night
Coz there’s nothin’ what lives would ever dare bite
                         When Pa’s around.
He onct told ‘em all that they mustn’t touch me
Er they would be tanned with a trunk of a tree
An’ so they’re as friendly as friendly can be
                         When Pa’s around.

The bully what lives in our block, he’s scared too,
Coz he raises his hat an’ says, “How do you do,”
                         When Pa’s around.
An’ I fro out my chest as we’re passin’ him by
An’ I look in his face without blinkin’ an eye
Coz I know if he teched me, he’d most surely die
                         When Pa’s around.

At time, though, I’m scared if I’ve done sompin’ wrong,
Coz I feel sompin’ speshul what’s narrer and long,
                         When Pa’s around.
There’s other times, though, that I ain’t scared a bit,
When he leaves the room an’ goes lookin’ for it
An’ that’s when Ma’s near, coz he’d never dare hit
                         When she’s around. [page 34]

TO JACK GUEST

You fought your battle well and we are glad,
    Glad you have reached the throne of sculling fame;
For through reverse bitter with defeat
    You smiled and clenched your teeth and played the game.

A heart less brave would have long ago failed,
    A mind less valiant voiced a loser’s whine;
But you, with iron heart and iron will,
    Sent forth your challenge, “Vict’ry shall be mine.”

Oh, we are mighty proud of you to-day;
    Your name has flashed ten times around the world
As one who met defeat unflinchingly,
    Who at its shadow grit and courage hurled.

Your body, may it always be as fit,
    Your lips as firm, your heart as strong and true;
For from the lesser heights ten thousand eyes,
    Ten thousand youthful eyes, look up to you.

O hero of ten thousand youthful dreams
    Toronto rises up in loud acclaim,
To welcome you and praise you as a man
    Who met success because he played the game. [page 35]

GOD’S GIFT

(To A. S. W.)

Last night the bells of heaven played a melody of love
And down the moon’s bright rays there sped an angel from above
Beneath her wings a little form was cooing soft and low
At last the journey’s end was reached, the little babe was blessed
And placed contentedly upon her mother’s breast.

Last night a little mother smiled and gazed with love-lit eyes
Upon her priceless treasure from the angel in the skies,
And as she smiled, a tear coursed down her cheeks and washed away
The last remaining lines of pain that motherhood must pay,
While by her bed a daddy stood and held a tiny hand
And softly whispered, “Sweetheart, I’m the proudest in the land.” [page 36]

WISHES

Wisht I was a millyunaire,
    Wisht I was a king
Wisht I owned a candy store
    An’ a ‘lastic sling.
Wisht that there would be a fire
    In our school some day,
Wisht I had a thousand years
    Fer a holiday.

Wisht I grow up big like pa
    When I am a man
‘Stead o’ takin’ after ma’s
    Little brother Dan.
Wisht I owned a hundred dogs,
    Wisht I owned a zoo,
Wisht that there had never been
    Homework fer to do.

Wisht I never smoked pa’s pipe
    Yesterday, because
It’s the powerfullest thing
    Ever is er was.
Wisht that I could lick Bill Jones,
    Wisht that I owned a gun,
Wisht ma wouldn’t get so mad
    When I’m having fun.

But the most important wish
    That I wanna make
Is to sleep right up ‘till June
    So’s that when I wake,
I will see the birds an’ bees
    Nosin’ in the sun,
An’ that wish is speshul coz
    Schooldays will be done [page 37]

WILLIE’S REPORT

Last night I showed my school report to Pa an’ he said: “Son,
I’m glad to see in spelling your report reads ninety-one.”
An’ then he turned to Ma an’ said: “Of one thing I am glad,
This brilliant little man of ours takes after good old dad,
I always was a clever tyke back in my youthful days.”
Said Ma, “That may be true, but tell me why you changed your ways!”

“Aha,” said Pa (not noticin’) “I see in reading, too,
Your marks are very excellent; now that’s the way to do.
There’s truth in that old saying: ‘Like the father, like the boy.’
Your standing in the classroom it just fills my heart with joy.
The older you get, my son, the more you are like me.”
“That isn’t so,” said Ma, “becoz he’s from our family tree.”

“Arithemtic is seventy,” says Pa. “my! That is fine;
In future years I’ll point with pride and say: ‘That boy is mine,’
And when you are a leader and you’ve reached the peak of fame
‘Twill make your dad feel glad to know you’ve carried on his name
The more I read this fine report the more I think,” said Pa—
“That he is like my brother, Will, the architect,” said Ma. [page 38]

“What’s this? What’s this? In grammar your report reads twenty-three.
Well, I must say such ignorance could never come from me.
And farther down your conduct it is underline real bad.
Such poor marks in the classroom, son, are things I never had.
Your Mother’s words are true, young man, for now I see,” said Pa—
“That ‘like the father, like the son’ is quite correct,” said Ma.

EILEEN

Before the angels plucked the stars,
    That twinkle in your eyes,
And you wore tiny fairy wings
    And played about the skies,
Your mother often used to say,
And so did I, my dear,
That we would never spare the rod
    And spoil you year by year.

We planned a lovely room for you
    Where, mother used to say,
“The little dear can sleep at night
    And in the day-time play.
For if there’s one thing I dislike
    ‘Tis scratched and toy-strewn halls
And finger marks from tiny hands
    Upon the papered walls. [page 39]

“Some homes that I have visited
    They let them mark the floors
And put their sticky jammy hands
    Upon the chairs and doors.
Why, it is really terrible
    The things some children, do.”
And then she’d dream her dreams and plan
    How she would bring up you.

Is this the room that mother planned?
    Are you the little dear?
And has your mother ever caused
    Those eyes to dull with fear?
Are you the little model child
    That she once dreamt about
When she would sit in other homes
    And want to scream and shout?

Well, if you are, then there must be
    A girl I’ve never seen,
Whose tongue must know the taste of jam,
    Whose hands are never clean
Who made these scratches on the chairs
    And fingermarked these walls
And left these streaks upon the floor
    From carriages and dolls.

Why don’t you look when daddy speaks?
    Well, say, I do declare
I think you are the one who wrought
    Such havoc ev’rywhere. [page 40]

THE OLD HOME TOWN

I’m dreaming of the old home town to-night,
    The chums I knew in distant days gone by,
The swimmin’ hole beneath the old red bridge
    Where echoed soft the whip-poor-will’s low cry;

The sleepy willow tree whose humble arms 
    Bedecked with green hid boyish forms from sight;
I hear the carefree echoes of my youth
   And watch the luring campfire’s smoke take flight.

The diving board, that knotted thing of pine—
    It moans and groans beneath old “Tubby’s” weight,
And once again I join the laughing throng
    And watch old “Tubby” scramble back—too late.

I hear the muffled protests of the frogs
    Whose haunts are charged with youth and joy and song;
I hear again the catbird’s plaintive cry
    As if earth-chained from some ancestral wrong.

Now in the west the sun begins to nod,
    The chill of the night steals slowly o’er the scene;
The campfire fades, the broken diving board
    Floats, hidden by the willow’s leaves of green.

The old red bridge creaks out a fond farewell
    As o’er it back and down the dusty way
The parting swimmers slowly drift t’ward home
    To dream to-morrow and its hours of play.

At time when in this reminiscent mood
    I’d like to wander back again and see
Those haunts of early childhood and to feel
    Those joyous thrills that once belonged to me. [page 41]

But I’m afraid that if I wandered back,
    I’d search in vain an understanding face:
I’d learn the old red bridge remembered not,
    I’d hear strange laughter echo ‘round the place.

And so, when on such nights as this I sit
    And yearn to greet the old familiar stream,
I close my eyes and beckon memories
    To take me back upon the wings of dream.

THE LITTLE STRANGER

The loving imp that graced our meals
    With blackened hands each night
And grumbled, growled and carried on
    When told to wash them right
Has left our happy little home
    And in his place we see
The model boy we always wished
    Our little lad would be.
His hands and face are free from signs
    Of playing on the street,
His hair is smoothly combed and brushed,
    His clothes are nice and neat.
He does not try to rudely take
    The good things that he sees,
Instead he asks in saintly tones,
    “May I be served, Ma, please?”

And when he’s finished with his meal
    He says, “I beg that you
Will pardon me because I have
    My homework yet to do.” [page 42]
And then we hear no other sound
    Until the clock strikes eight,
Then little mister stranger yawns
    And says, “My, but it’s late;
I guess the time has come for me
    To go upstairs to bed.”
And that’s the last we see till morn
    Of precious curly head.
But when he’s gone his mother turns
   And laughs a little then,
And says, “I kind of wish he’d be
    Our roguish imp again.”
And though perhaps she’s wrong, still I
    With mother must agree.
And state from now till Christmas day
    Is much too long for me.

THE LABORER

He was only a laborer hardened and tanned
    By the wind and the rain and the sun
Yet he hummed at his task through the long working day
    And he grinned when his toiling was done.

His employer was passing one day and he heard
    So he stopped and listened a while,
Then he questioned the man as he bent to his task
    And he said: “Tell me—why do you smile?

“For of wealth you have little, of ease you have less
    And your life is the same ev’ry day;
Yet you toil and your work from the day-break till dark
    And you sing like a boy at his play.” [page 43]

Then the laborer turned and he laughed as he spoke
    In a voice that was welcome to hear;
And he said: “though you’ve gained a fair portion of gold
    Your philosophy’s suffered, I fear.

“For you tell me the wealth of the world’s passed me by
    Yet the good Lord above never planned
That the sun and the stars and the flower trees
    Must make mock at the laborer’s hand.

“And you pity me, Sir, that my days are hard spent,
    And I haven’t a moment to rest,
Yet I’ll venture to state that your life is not ease
    As you fight in your gold-searching quest.

“And then thirdly, you speak of the life that is mine
    And you state ‘tis the same ev’ry day,
Yet when evening approaches I enter a world
    Where the fairies of love romp and play.

“For there’s kiddies’ sweet laughter in my humble home
    And the love of a wife who is true
And staunch friends oftentimes dropping in for a chat
    When their hard day of toiling is through.

“Now you see, Sir, the reason I sing as I work
    For my wealth is the wealth of the great,
I’ve the wonder of God and the handclasps of friends
    And a home where my loved ones await.” [page 44]

MOTHER

To-night as darkness slowly falls
    I wander Mem’ry’s Lane
Back through the years to yesterday
    And am a boy again

I picture you, dear Mother—you
    Who dried my falling tears
And kissed the little bruises, too,
    And quelled my childish fears.

I see no lines upon your brow,
    I see no graying hair,
For then your locks were golden bright,
    Your heart was free from care.

What caused this change—the passing years?
    Ah, no, for now I see
The graying hair and furrowed brow 
    Were largely caused by me

I caused you sorrow, caused you pain;
    You fed my ev’ry need,
And never once refused e’en though
    My wants were caused by greed.

You gave the best years of your life,
    Dear Mother mine, to me;
No human being ever lived
    Life more unselfishly.

And now as ev’ning shadows steal
    Across your life, I pray
My actions as a man are what
    You hoped for yesterday. [page 45]

LITTLE MR. QUESTION BOX

I wonder what makes water wet,
My dad ain’t never told me yet.
He told me why a boy grows up
An’ why a dog don’t stay a pup
An’ what makes summer go away
An’ what makes night come after day
An’ why the birds live up in trees
An’ why a cold will make me sneeze
An’ why elfs only come at night
An’ why the sun is awful bright.

He told me why a horse can’t talk
An’ how it is that I can walk
An’ why it is my ma bakes pies
An’ why it is the baby cries
An’ just what makes the world go round
An’ why it is the king is crowned
An’ why long whiskers hurt my face
An’ why black hands is a disgrace
An’ why big ships go ‘cross the sea
An’ why I shouldn’t climb a tree.

I ask him nearly ev’ry night
But he just laughs an’ holds me tight
An’ says: “Now little question box
You’re most cunning as a fox
Please go away and make a noise
And play about with all your toys
And let your poor dad rest a bit
And give him time to think of it.”
But I guess dad he must forget
What makes the water feel so wet. [page 46]

WHEN DAD PLAYED MOTHER

A wedding was to happen, so I promised I would stay
And mind a group of kiddies while their mothers were away.
Thought I, “Twill be a pleasant task to dream and sit about
While groups of joyous little folk are putting care to rout.”
But hardly had I settled down (or so it seemed) to dream
Before my thoughts were startled by the most unearthly scream.
“Good grief!” I cried. “That’s murder,” and I flew toward the hall
Till something stopped my progress—t’was an India rubber ball

My feet went out from under and I crashed upon the floor
And almost broke my elbow on the open kitchen door.
But haunted by that screaming I soon picked my remnants up
And stumbled to the parlor like a battered, beaten pup.
And what a chaos greeted me when I arrived in there. 
The chairs were lying upside down, the rugs were ev’rywhere,
The bridge lamp which my wife adores had had a fateful fall
And leaned in mournful weakness up against the parlor wall.

The hand-embroidered cushions, with their silks and fancy lace,
Were pulled off from the chesterfield and tossed about the place, [page 47]
While, in the middle of the floor, young roguish Billy stood
The drapes from off the curtains wrapped about him like a hood,
And little Johnny, head bent low, was circling all about
And pausing only now and then to give that screeching shout,
While seated on the floor were Helen Mae and wee Eileen,
And in between then, face alight, was Audrey “Kathaleen.”

“Good grief,” I cried, “why all the noise, and why, in Heaven’s name
Can’t you two boys think up a quiet peaceful kind of game?
You little mischief-makers better get right out of here,
Or living won’t be living when your mother’s come, I fear.”
But hardly had I spoken when young Billy cried, “Oh, gee!”
And then his voice rose up in song that nearly deafened me.
Of course, that started Helen Mae, then Audrey “Kathaleen”
And then young Johnny joined their song and so did wee Eileen.

Now I must bring this rhyming to a close and so I’ll say
That if I finished up my tale you’d read till judgment day,
For long before my task was done I looked a sorry sight;
My face was fingermarked with jam, my clothes an awful fright. [page 48]
And though it is two weeks ago since I agreed to stay
And watch a group of kiddies chasing care and gloom away;
The memories still linger and I can’t help feeling glad
That Providence in choosing picked me out to be a dad.

THE HOME THAT MOTHER PLANNED

Before we married, mother used to dream
    About the little home she’d have some day,
Of how she’d have each piece of furniture
    Shined bright and placed in just a certain way.

There’d be a little breakfast nook, she said,
    Just large enough to seat the two of us,
The kitchen would be modernistic, too,
    A tiny little place where she could fuss.

And in the front across the well-kept lawn
    There’d wind the cutest little crooked walk
An ev’rything would be so snug and neat—
    Our home would be the envy of the block.

And so we searched about until we found,
    The little nest that in her dreams she’d seen,
And then one day she stepped the crooked walk
    My little bride, as happy as a queen.

But, as the years rolled by there came a time
    When we could use the breakfast nook no more,
For Billy came and then fair Barb’ra Jean
    And modernistic nooks aren’t planned for four. [page 49]

Then next we learnt that children do not dream
    Of furniture placed just a certain way
And well-kept lawns to them are only meant
    For busy little feet to romp and play.

And now at time when they are tucked in bed
    Their mother with a laugh will say to me,
“I’m glad our home is not the home I saw
    When I would plan in days that used to be.”

For children are not meant for homes that boast
    Of chairs unmarked by searching little hands
And, after all, the children count for most,
    To one who dreams at first, then … understands.

MY PAW

I like my paw; he’s lots o’ fun!
As soon as all the work is done
He beats the other feller’s paws
In gettin’ home. He says it’s cause
He don’t stand chattin’ on the way
‘Bout things what he done throughout the day,
‘Cause he is luckier by far
Than other paws that he knows are,
He’s got a wife that cooks divine
An’ got a boy who’s mighty fine.

An’ that’s why he don’t stop to talk
With all the neighbours in the block,
He’d rather hurry home to see
His sweethearts—they are maw an’ me.
He hugs an’ kisses mother first,
Nen squeezes me ‘till I near burst,
An’ nen he sits me on his knee
An’ while she works tells things to me.
He told me once of piruts bold
Who filled their ships with stolen gold. [page 50]

An’ on one dark an’ stormy night
They had the fiercest kind o’ fight,
They went to rob a ship an’, gee,
They wisht they hadn’t, cause, you see,
The captain was a Kangaroo
An’ all the other in the crew
Was elaphunts an’ diff’rent beasts
Out lookin’ fer some pirut feasts,
An’ so before the night was done
They ate up ev’ry single on.

That’s why my paw is lot o’ fun
As soon as all his work is done,
But if he’s luckier by far
Than other paws that he know are,
I know a boy who has a paw
The greatest one you even saw
An’ he is luckier a lot
That other fellers, ‘cause he’s got
That speshul kind o’ dad, an’, gee,
That lucky boy, o’ course, is me.

THE GOODNIGHT KISS

When the gray of night had fallen and the working day was done,
It would often start me counting all my troubles one by one,
And I’d groan that life had given me far more than I could bear
For its hardships and its sorrows they seemed mingled ev’rywhere,
And it made me feel like quitting till a laughing little Miss
Came a toddling to her daddy for a love and Good-night Kiss. [page 51]

I have often sat and brooded o’er the rich man and his gold,
And my thoughts have fallen deeply into envy’s bitter hold,
“Oh, it isn’t fair,” I’ve murmured, “that I have to spend my life
Building up some great man’s fortune by my sweat and toil and strife,”
And it made me feel like quitting till a laughing little Miss
Came a toddling to her daddy for a love and Good-night Kiss.

Then one night I started thinking that perhaps I had been blessed
With the kind of wealth and riches that make life the happiest, 
And I came to the conclusion that a home and wife and love
Are the richest of the blessings that are showered from above, 
So I asked God to forgive me and I thanked Him for the Miss
Who comes toddling to her daddy for a love and Good-night Kiss.

MY WISH

If I possessed Aladdin’s lamp
    And I could please myself,
I would not wish for worldly pow’r,
    I would not wish for pelf. [page 52]

My wants are plain. I would not year
    For costly castles rare,
I’d rather have my little home—
    I know that love dwells there.

Almighty God’s been kind to me
    In guiding me through life;
He gave me health and strength to work,
    He gave to me—my wife.

He gave to me my kiddies, too;
    I know no greater joy
Than laughing with my little girl
    Or romping with my boy.

If I possessed Aladdin’s lamp,
    I’d wish all men were blessed
With wife and children, home and love;
    These treasures are the best.

THE OPTIMISTS

Some folks believe that optimists are men who laugh at care,
    Who sing when ev’ry plan is going wrong;
Who never seem to worry at the burdens they must bear
    And greet the darkest morning with a song.

They envy them their grinning when the clouds of gloom appear,
    They envy them their sunny care-free way;
They envy them their conquest of that silent thing called fear,
    And wonder why their skies seem never gray. [page 53]

But have you ever questioned them when you have been sore tried,
    When fear has held you fast in steel embrace,
When all your world has crumbled and your hopes have almost died
    And bitter thoughts assail you in life’s race?

Do they, at troubles told to them, just laugh and pat your hand,
    Or tell you just to bear your load and grin?
And do they say it’s easy if you take the care-free stand
To beat life’s disappointment and to win?

Oh, no, you’ll always find them with a handclasp that is bold,
    With sympathy that tells of battles fought;
And long before they’re finished you’ll appreciate the mold
    From which these optimistic men are wrought.

They, too, have tasted many griefs from out life’s bitter cup;
    They, too, have felt life’s storms of hurt and pain;
They, too, have cried in anguish at the sorrows that loomed up;
    They, too, have been dismayed by clouds of rain.

But they, while struggling forward on this up-hill road of life,
    Have learned a world-old lesson on their way.
They’ve learned to see the skies of blue behind the clouds of strife
    They know the sun must shine for them some day. [page 54]

And if you have strength to greet life’s burdens with a song,
    And if you have the courage to just grin,
When all your world seems crumbled and your calculations wrong,
    There’s nothing for you then but just to win.

LITTLE WIFE

Cheering when the night is dark,
    Helping me along,
Building courage that has failed
    With your sweet love song,
Helping me to bravely play
    In the game of life,
Chasing care and bringing joy—
    That’s you, little wife.

Words of mine could never tell
    What you mean to me,
You who lift depression’s veil
    When I cannot see,
You who taught me how to smile
    In the face of strife,
Oh, I owe so much to you
    Sweetest little wife.

When the shadows of the night
    Steal across the sky,
And the working day is done,
    Lucky man am I,
For the burdens of the day
    And the cares of life
Cannot live where children are—
    They and you, dear wife. [page 55]

SONNY

“Your son is sleeping now,” the doctor said,
    “In God’s own garden, where the bitter spell
Of sorrow and of pain is never known
    And peace and happiness alone may dwell.”

At first I could not think that it was true,
    My little boy—my happy little son—
Why should the good Lord take our lad away
    Whose little life had only just begun?

“It is not so! It can’t be true!” I cried
    And then I thought of her who bore the pain,
Of how she’d laughed when it was o’er and said,
    “For him I’d suffer twice that much again.”

Grief threw a veil of hatred o’er my soul
    And I—I mocked the God who gave him breath,
For I was blinded, crazed with bitterness
    To think of him, my son, asleep in death.

The broken toys, the silent nurs’ry room,
    The little fingers marks upon the door,
All these were but sweet mem’ries of the past,
    The tiny faltering feet would come no more.

No more would his sweet laughter grace our home
    As through the halls he’d race in boyish glee;
No more would he come lisping to his dad
    And beg for “Dist on ride” upon his knee.

And then one night I slept and, as I slept
    I dreamt of him, and he was calling to me.
His little voice was soft and low and sad
    And as I listened, this was Sonny’s plea: [page 56]

“Dear Daddy, please don’t feel so awful sad,
    An’ please tell Mummy not to worry, too,
Coz I can’t be as happy as I like
    When you an’ Mamma cry the way you do.

“There’s angels an’ there’s fairies an’ there’s elfs
    Where I am now, an’ lots of little boys
An’ ev’rybody is real good to us,
    An’ we have most a million diff’rent toys.

An’ all the angels say if you is good
    That you will come an’ some day live with me
An’ nen you won’t feel sad not any more
    You’ll just be glad an’ happy as can be.”

Then I awoke, the tears were coursing fast
    Upon my livid cheeks like scorching flame,
And then I raised my hands toward my God
    And begged Him to forgive, and cleanse my shame.

DEAR SANTY CLAUS

Dear Santy Claus I’m Bobby
    What writed once before
But somethin’ ‘portant’s happened
    So I must write some more

A stork flied in Mum’s window,
    And’ guess what he left there—
A bran’ new sister, Santy,
    Without no teeth or hair.

My daddy said to write to you
    So’d you’ll know she is here
An’ bring her toys to play with
    When you come ‘roun’ this year. [page 57]

I think she wants an engine,
    A drum an’ target gun,
A catchin’ glove, a baseball
    An’ runnin’ shoes to run.

My Mama says to tell you
    To bring a baby doll,
An’ so goodbye, dear Santy,
    ‘Coz that, I guess, is all.

BILLY’S “POME”

Wunst I carried a big tom cat
To a yard where my dog was at
Set her down on the groun, nen, gee!
What she done took my breath from me,
‘Coz I thought that when I took her in
She’d start howlin’ nen run like sin.

But when Nan (he’s my dog, you know)
Started growlin’, did she run? Gee, no!
She growled, too, nen she made her back
Bend an’ bend ‘till I thought she’d crack,
Nen she growed ‘till most ev’rywhere
She was nothin’ but lots of hair.

Nen she struck her tail right up straight,
Nen she climbed on top that back gate,
Nen I ‘membered that wunst my dad
Says he knowed a cat went clean mad
So that’s all they is to my pome
I called to Nan an’ we went home.

DADDY’S CAVALIER

Last night I was a prancing steed of old
    And carried on my back a fearless knight
Whose wooden sabre flashed a thousand times
    And forced ten thousand armies to take flight.

A paper hat adorned his lordly brow
    A row of medals graced hiss manly chest,
Great dragons fell before his crushing blows
    And mighty giants fled on as we pressed.

Along the halls and up the stairs we charged
    Through jungle lands where lion kings held sway
Across bleak deserts, where fierce Arab tribes
    Before his gleaming sword in fear gave way;

When suddenly before us there appeared
    A gate of rarest gems, whose colors shone
With even greater beauty than the sun
    Awakening to greet the earth at dawn.

To fairy princes dressed in robes of gold
    With silver sabres glitt’ring at their sides
Came forth to greet and as they did, my knight
    Cried, “Tell me who in this fair land abides?”

They answered: “ ’Tis the land where cavaliers
    Seek rest when weary from a hard-fought day,
Come, leave your armor bright and toil-worn steel
    And enter where the elves and fairies play.”

“I thank you, sirs,” my captain quickly said,
    “But I cannot accept, I have no mind
To enter those gates of rarest gems
    If I must leave my noble steed behind.” [page 59]

They answered: “When the Sun God’s day is done,
    And twilight warns the fast approach of night,
Then steeds and masters must bid fond adieu
    For each must to his own fair land take flight.”

And as they spoke, from out the gates of rest
    Sweet fairy music drifted through the air,
My little captain sighed a weary sigh,
    And silence reigned, a peaceful silence there.

Then I, the steed, with tenderness and love
    Gave him into the fairy princes’ keep,
Who gently bore through dreamland’s gleaming gate
My captain-smiling sweetly in his sleep.

DEAR MISTER STORK

Dear, Mr. Stork,—I’m Barb’ra Jean
    An’ I am four years old
An’ hope that coz I’m writing this
    You won’t think I am bold.

In course it isn’t really me
    Who’s writing this to you:
It’s daddy, but he’s putting down
    Just what I tell him to.

I hope you are not mad at me
    Becoz on Saturday
I wasn’t here to make some tea
    Before you went away.

But I was out to Aunty’s place
    An’ we was making pies,
An’ never even thinkin’ ‘bout
    YOU comin’ from the skies. [page 60]

An’ when my daddy telephoned
    Oh, deary, deary me,
We stopped our work an’ hurried home
    As quick as quick could be.

In course when he got here, why you
    Was back in babyland,
An’ daddy says if I write this
    He’s sure you’ll understand.

I’m awful, awful glad you came
    An’ hope you’ll come some more,
(Be sure to come in anyways
    If no one’s at the door).

An’ now I think I’ll say goodbye
    Coz when there’s three you know
(An’ ev’ryone as new as new)
    They need attention so!

FATHER AND SON

What is more glorious than to see
Father and son laughing loud and free,
Chumming about when the day is done,
Sharing like brothers their care and fun.
Hiking the road to a better life
Helping each other in care and strife;

The father teaching the son the right
Building his mind for future fight,
Setting a goal that the son may say,
Off in a dim and distant day,
“All that I am and hope to be
Comes from the friendship that dad gave me.” [page 61]

The son returning that friendship rare
By helping dad with his load of care,
By showing him that, from day to day,
He’s quickly learning life’s game to play,
By placing rocks at the base of fame,
The rocks of truth and an honest name.

Father and son on the self same road
And each one lifting the other’s load,
Each one facing the self same sun
Hand in hand when their day is done,
The father proud and the son’s heart glad
The Lord had given him such a dad.

SUCCESS

I do not yearn for wealth untold,
    Nor powers that are great,
Nor seek the tempting golden road
    That leads to vast estate.

I do not care, when life is done,
    If with me dies my name;
No prayers of mine at eventide
    Cry out to God for fame.

Such thought have long since taken wing
    And now, when day is done,
I like to dream quite diff’rent dreams
    Beneath the setting sun. [page 62]

I like to see my little home,
    The garden growing there,
The roses climbing up the porch
    Contentment everywhere.

I like to hear the children laugh,
    To bounce them on my knee;
I like to shower them with love
    And have them loving me.

I like to have that gift divine,
    The comradeship of friends,
And know that comradeship will last
    Until life’s journey ends.

Oh, I care not for other things
    If these are mine to hold;
They mean success in life to me
    More precious than its gold.

IT HAPPENED AT—

The sun was shining brightly
    From blue skies overhead,
The man searched ‘round intently,
    His feet seemed made of lead.

The birds were singing sweetly
    Their happy songs of life,
The man looked fiercely at them
    His face lined with deep strife.

The breeze was soft and welcome,
    Its coolness breathed content,
The man mopped perspiration
    As if his strength was spent. [page 63]

The buttercups and daisies
    Gave perfume to the air,
The man tramped roughly o‘er them
    And never saw them there.

A groundhog from its burrow
    Looked on in blank surprise
The man’s head raised—he saw it;
    Then murder stalked his eyes.

The groundhog saw him coming
    He sped into the ground
The man stood o’er the burrow
    The air was blue around.

The sun continued shining
    On nature’s lovely hall,
The man reached in his golfbag,
    Then played another ball.

THAT PLACE CALLED HOME

There’s a quaint old red-brick cottage in a quaint old town I know
Where the morning glories mingle with the roses as they grow,
Where the meadow lark each morning sends his song up to the skies,
Greeting dairy artists busy painting scenes with golden dyes.
There I learnt life’s early lessons; there I learnt to sing and play;
There I learnt of God’s great wonders in the blessed Yesterday. [page 64]

I can see a sweet-faced mother watch with laughter in her eyes
As we children stirred the echoes with our shrill and joyous cries,
I can hear soft voice soothing, I can feel her kisses yet,
That would drive the fear of pain away from bruises we would get.
Better still, I see her bending o’er our bed at eventide
While the moonlight shines upon her—‘tis a picture sanctified.

Oh, man’s cup of life was sweetened when the Good Lord from above
Sent those angels we call Mothers with their deep unselfish love,
Man may boast of wealth and riches, of the conquests he has won,
From the first light of the morning till the setting of the sun,
But how quickly he would cast them off if once more he could roam
As a little barefoot laughing boy about that place called home.

On the silken thread of mem’ry there is nothing half so sweet
As a quaint old fashioned cottage on a quaint old fashioned street,
Where the children’s happy laughter all the long day through is heard—
Sweeter to the list’ning mother than the song of the mocking bird—
Where the heart of man may wander when the busy day is done,
Arm in arm with dreams of yesterday beneath the setting sun. [page 65]

THE LESSON

He entered by the kitchen door
And stumbled blindly ‘cross the floor,
With fevered brow and shaking hand
So weak that he could scarcely stand.

His mother saw him writhing there
With pallid face and glassy stare
And said: “What’s wrong, dear, tell me quick?”
“Oh, Ma,” he said, “I’m awful sick.”

And half the night beside his bed
They sat and soothed his fevered head,
At times he’d cry aloud in fear,
“Please, dad, keep that away from here.”

How glad they were when he at last
Into a peaceful slumber passed,
When morning broke there was no pain
And he was laughing once again.

That night when father lit his pipe,
And filled the room with smoke fumes ripe,
The little fellow went outside
And once again he almost died.

THE LITTLE SAINT

There is a little boy I know
    Whose name begins with Jack,
Who never cries to stay up late
    And never sasses back.
He’s never had the strap in school,
    Nor worn a big dunce hat,
Nor took a tin that once held corn
    And tied it to a cat. [page 66]

He’s never stayed from school to swim,
    He’s never had a fight,
He’s never torn his clothes a bit
    And never looked a sight.
He’s never took a ‘lastic out
    And never took a shot
When he was sitting in the church
    At some man’s baldhead-spot.

He’s never bust a window pane,
    Nor teased his sister Grace,
And never took an apple from
    The Deacon Jones’s place
My mother says he’s very good
    And so does daddy, too,
And so does Grace and so do I—
    You see, he’s just brand new.

PA’S YEARLY AMBITION

Last night while Ma was busy washing dishes, Father said:
“The world is full of gladness for the winter-time is dead.
Which means that I must call upon your darling brother Joe,
And see if I can’t borrow back my spade and rake and hoe.
There’s nothing like those implements to make a man feel right,
It brings the color to the cheeks and keeps him full of fight.
It helps him battle with the world and teaches him,” said Pa—
“To wear the paint off back porch steps by sitting there,” said Ma. [page 67]

“Now, Ma, you know ‘twas rheumatiz that cornered me last spring,
And after I felt better ‘twas too late to do a thing.
But this year ‘twill be diff’rent for there isn’t any sign
Of rheumatism lurking in these husky bones of mine.
I’m full of pep and ginger and I’ll teach those pesky weeds
It doesn’t do to show their heads where I have planted seeds.
Believe me, we’ll have ev’rything that skill can raise this year.”
“My great big farmer husband,” chortled Ma, “is just a dear.”

“Your laughin’ now, but you just wait until the month of June;
I’ll bet you that fur coat you want that you will change your tune.
I’ll make the would-be-gard’ner folk who live within this block
That off their coats and dig right in—I’ll make them toe the chalk.
I’ll grow the kind of flowers that florists write about
And have the kind of garden truck that kings must go without. 
I’ll hurry home on Saturdays and dig right in,” said Pa—
“And change into your golfing suit and go right out,” said Ma. [page 69]

WHEN DAY IS DONE

When day is done how fine to say
“I’ve helped a fellow-man to-day;
I’ve planted in some heart the seed
Of kindly word or kindly deed;
I’ve helped a mortal lift the strain
Of bitter thought, of bitter pain;
I’ve helped to loosen him from care
I’ve helped to lift him from despair.”

How fine it is when day is done
To know a cleaner race you’ve won;
To know you have not stooped to shame,
Of darkened deeds you bear no blame;
To know that in the worldly fight,
You’ve held your tryst with truth and right;
To know that you may rightly say
Dishonor left no stain to-day

Oh, that is living, that is life,
To know you’ve helped a man in strife,
To know you’ve helped to lift his load
And sent him singing up the road;
To know that you have played the game
Of living, free from greed and shame;
To know the path on which you trod
Was smiled on by a loving God.

Oh, I am glad that in this life
I’m carrying my share of strife,
For now I know and understand
The value of a helping hand,
I know what other mortal dream
I help more in the Lord’s great scheme;
I know how glorious to say,
I’ve helped a fellow-man to-day. [page 69]

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