A Heap O' Livin', by Edgar A. Guest

Part 1 out of 3

A Heap o' Livin'
Edgar A. Guest

Marjorie and Buddy
this little book of verse
is affectionately
by their Daddy


When you get to know a fellow, know his joys
and know his cares,
When you've come to understand him and the
burdens that he bears,
When you've learned the fight he's making and
the troubles in his way,
Then you find that he is different than you
thought him yesterday.
You find his faults are trivial and there's not so
much to blame
In the brother that you jeered at when you only
knew his name.

You are quick to see the blemish in the distant
neighbor's style,
You can point to all his errors and may sneer
at him the while,
And your prejudices fatten and your hates
more violent grow
As you talk about the failures of the man you
do not know,
But when drawn a little closer, and your hands
and shoulders touch,
You find the traits you hated really don't
amount to much.

When you get to know a fellow, know his every
mood and whim,
You begin to find the texture of the splendid
side of him;
You begin to understand him, and you cease to
scoff and sneer,
For with understanding always prejudices dis-
You begin to find his virtues and his faults you
cease to tell,
For you seldom hate a fellow when you know
him very well.

When next you start in sneering and your
phrases turn to blame,
Know more of him you censure than his business
and his name;
For it's likely that acquaintance would your
prejudice dispel
And you'd really come to like him if you
knew him very well.
When you get to know a fellow and you under-
stand his ways,
Then his faults won't really matter, for you'll
find a lot to praise.


A smudge on his nose and a smear on his cheek
And knees that might not have been washed in
a week;
A bump on his forehead, a scar on his lip,
A relic of many a tumble and trip:
A rough little, tough little rascal, but sweet,
Is he that each evening I'm eager to meet.

A brow that is beady with jewels of sweat;
A face that's as black as a visage can get;
A suit that at noon was a garment of white,
Now one that his mother declares is a fright:
A fun-loving, sun-loving rascal, and fine,
Is he that comes placing his black fist in mine.

A crop of brown hair that is tousled and tossed;
A waist from which two of the buttons are lost;
A smile that shines out through the dirt and the
And eyes that are flashing delight all the time:
All these are the joys that I'm eager to meet
And look for the moment I get to my street.


Does the grouch get richer quicker than the
friendly sort of man?
Can the grumbler labor better than the cheerful
fellow can?
Is the mean and churlish neighbor any cleverer
than the one
Who shouts a glad "good morning," and then
smiling passes on?

Just stop and think about it. Have you ever
known or seen
A mean man who succeeded, just because he
was so mean?
When you find a grouch with honors and with
money in his pouch,
You can bet he didn't win them just because
he was a grouch.

Oh, you'll not be any poorer if you smile along
your way,
And your lot will not be harder for the kindly
things you say.
Don't imagine you are wasting time for others
that you spend:
You can rise to wealth and glory and still pause
to be a friend.


To live as gently as I can;
To be, no matter where, a man;
To take what comes of good or ill
And cling to faith and honor still;
To do my best, and let that stand
The record of my brain and hand;
And then, should failure come to me,
Still work and hope for victory.

To have no secret place wherein
I stoop unseen to shame or sin;
To be the same when I'm alone
As when my every deed is known;
To live undaunted, unafraid
Of any step that I have made;
To be without pretense or sham
Exactly what men think I am.

To leave some simple mark behind
To keep my having lived in mind;
If enmity to aught I show,
To be an honest, generous foe,
To play my little part, nor whine
That greater honors are not mine.
This, I believe, is all I need
For my philosophy and creed.


I'd like to be a boy again, a care-free prince of
joy again,
I'd like to tread the hills and dales the way I
used to do;
I'd like the tattered shirt again, the knickers
thick with dirt again,
The ugly, dusty feet again that long ago I
I'd like to play first base again, and Sliver's
curves to face again,
I'd like to climb, the way I did, a friendly
apple tree;
For, knowing what I do to-day, could I but
wander back and play,
I'd get full measure of the joy that boy-
hood gave to me.

I'd like to be a lad again, a youngster, wild and
glad again,
I'd like to sleep and eat again the way I used
to do;
I'd like to race and run again, and drain from
life its fun again,
And start another round of joy the moment
one was through.
But care and strife have come to me, and often
days are glum to me,
And sleep is not the thing it was and food
is not the same;
And I have sighed, and known that I must
journey on again to sigh,
And I have stood at envy's point and heard
the voice of shame.

I've learned that joys are fleeting things; that
parting pain each meeting brings;
That gain and loss are partners here, and so
are smiles and tears;
That only boys from day to day can drain and
fill the cup of play;
That age must mourn for what is lost
throughout the coming years.
But boys cannot appreciate their priceless joy
until too late
And those who own the charms I had will
soon be changed to men;
And then, they too will sit, as I, and backward
turn to look and sigh
And share my longing, vain, to be a care-
free boy again.


"How much do babies cost?" said he
The other night upon my knee;
And then I said: "They cost a lot;
A lot of watching by a cot,
A lot of sleepless hours and care,
A lot of heart-ache and despair,
A lot of fear and trying dread,
And sometimes many tears are shed
In payment for our babies small,
But every one is worth it all.

"For babies people have to pay
A heavy price from day to day --
There is no way to get one cheap.
Why, sometimes when they're fast asleep
You have to get up in the night
And go and see that they're all right.
But what they cost in constant care
And worry, does not half compare
With what they bring of joy and bliss --
You'd pay much more for just a kiss.

"Who buys a baby has to pay
A portion of the bill each day;
He has to give his time and thought
Unto the little one he's bought.
He has to stand a lot of pain
Inside his heart and not complain;
And pay with lonely days and sad
For all the happy hours he's had.
His smile is worth it all, you bet."


Never a sigh for the cares that she bore for me
Never a thought of the joys that flew by;
Her one regret that she couldn't do more for me,
Thoughtless and selfish, her Master was I.

Oh, the long nights that she came at my call to
Oh, the soft touch of her hands on my brow!
Oh, the long years that she gave up her all to
Oh, how I yearn for her gentleness now!

Slave to her baby! Yes, that was the way of
Counting her greatest of services small;
Words cannot tell what this old heart would
say of her,
Mother -- the sweetest and fairest of all.


I am selfish in my wishin' every sort o' joy for
I am selfish when I tell you that I'm wishin'
skies o' blue
Bending o'er you every minute, and a pocketful
of gold,
An' as much of love an' gladness as a human
heart can hold.
Coz I know beyond all question that if such a
thing could be
As you cornerin' life's riches you would share
'em all with me.

I am selfish in my wishin' every sorrow from
your way,
With no trouble thoughts to fret you at the
closin' o' the day;
An' it's selfishness that bids me wish you com-
forts by the score,
An' all the joys you long for, an' on top o'
them, some more;
Coz I know, old tried an' faithful, that if such
a thing could be
As you cornerin' life's riches you would share
'em all with me.


Who has a troop of romping youth
About his parlor floor,
Who nightly hears a round of cheers,
When he is at the door,
Who is attacked on every side
By eager little hands
That reach to tug his grizzled mug,
The wealth of earth commands.

Who knows the joys of girls and boys,
His lads and lassies, too,
Who's pounced upon and bounced upon
When his day's work is through,
Whose trousers know the gentle tug
Of some glad little tot,
The baby of his crew of love,
Is wealthier than a lot.

Oh, be he poor and sore distressed
And weary with the fight,
If with a whoop his healthy troop
Run, welcoming at night,
And kisses greet him at the end
Of all his toiling grim,
With what is best in life he's blest
And rich men envy him.


Before we take an auto ride Pa says to Ma:
"My dear,
Now just remember I don't need suggestions
from the rear.
If you will just sit still back there and hold
in check your fright,
I'll take you where you want to go and get
you back all right.
Remember that my hearing's good and also I'm
not blind,
And I can drive this car without suggestions
from behind."

Ma promises that she'll keep still, then off we
gayly start,
But soon she notices ahead a peddler and his
"You'd better toot your horn," says she, "to let
him know we're near;
He might turn out!" and Pa replies: "Just
shriek at him, my dear."
And then he adds: "Some day, some guy will
make a lot of dough
By putting horns on tonneau seats for women-
folks to blow!"

A little farther on Ma cries: "He signaled for
a turn!"
And Pa says: "Did he?" in a tone that's hot
enough to burn.
"Oh, there's a boy on roller skates!" cries Ma.
"Now do go slow.
I'm sure he doesn't see our car." And Pa says:
"I dunno,
I think I don't need glasses yet, but really it
may be
That I am blind and cannot see what's right
in front of me."

If Pa should speed the car a bit some rigs to
hurry past
Ma whispers: "Do be careful now. You're
driving much too fast."
And all the time she's pointing out the dangers
of the street
And keeps him posted on the roads where
trolley cars he'll meet.
Last night when we got safely home, Pa sighed
and said: "My dear,
I'm sure we've all enjoyed the drive you gave
us from the rear!"


He little knew the sorrow that was in his vacant
He never guessed they'd miss him, or he'd
surely have been there;
He couldn't see his mother or the lump that
filled her throat,
Or the tears that started falling as she read
his hasty note;
And he couldn't see his father, sitting sor-
rowful and dumb,
Or he never would have written that he thought
he couldn't come.

He little knew the gladness that his presence
would have made,
And the joy it would have given, or he never
would have stayed.
He didn't know how hungry had the little
mother grown
Once again to see her baby and to claim him
for her own.
He didn't guess the meaning of his visit
Christmas Day
Or he never would have written that he
couldn't get away.

He couldn't see the fading of the cheeks that
once were pink,
And the silver in the tresses; and he didn't
stop to think
How the years are passing swiftly, and next
Christmas it might be
There would be no home to visit and no mother
dear to see.
He didn't think about it -- I'll not say he didn't
He was heedless and forgetful or he'd surely
have been there.

Are you going home for Christmas? Have you
written you'll be there?
Going home to kiss the mother and to show
her that you care?
Going home to greet the father in a way to
make him glad?
If you're not I hope there'll never come a time
you'll wish you had.
Just sit down and write a letter -- it will make
their heart strings hum
With a tune of perfect gladness -- if you'll tell
them that you'll come.


At Sugar Camp the cook is kind
And laughs the laugh we knew as boys;
And there we slip away and find
Awaiting us the old-time joys.
The catbird calls the selfsame way
She used to in the long ago,
And there's a chorus all the day
Of songsters it is good to know.

The killdeer in the distance cries;
The thrasher, in her garb of brown,
From tree to tree in gladness flies.
Forgotten is the world's renown,
Forgotten are the years we've known;
At Sugar Camp there are no men;
We've ceased to strive for things to own;
We're in the woods as boys again.

Our pride is in the strength of trees,
Our pomp the pomp of living things;
Our ears are tuned to melodies
That every feathered songster sings.
At Sugar Camp our noonday meal
Is eaten in the open air,
Where through the leaves the sunbeams steal
And simple is our bill of fare.

At Sugar Camp in peace we dwell
And none is boastful of himself;
None plots to gain with shot and shell
His neighbor's bit of land or pelf.
The roar of cannon isn't heard,
There stilled is money's tempting voice;
Someone detects a new-come bird
And at her presence all rejoice.

At Sugar Camp the cook is kind;
His steak is broiling o'er the coals
And in its sputtering we find
Sweet harmony for tired souls.
There, sheltered by the friendly trees,
As boys we sit to eat our meal,
And, brothers to the birds and bees,
We hold communion with the real.


It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it
A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes
have t' roam
Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye lef'
An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em allus
on yer mind.
It don't make any differunce how rich ye get
t' be,
How much yer chairs an' tables cost, how great
yer luxury;
It ain't home t' ye, though it be the palace of a
Until somehow yer soul is sort o' wrapped round

Home ain't a place that gold can buy or get up
in a minute;
Afore it's home there's got t' be a heap o' livin'
in it;
Within the walls there's got t' be some babies
born, and then
Right there ye've got t' bring 'em up t' women
good, an' men;
And gradjerly as time goes on, ye find ye
wouldn't part
With anything they ever used -- they've grown
into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the
little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an' if ye could ye'd keep the thumb-
marks on the door.

Ye've got t' weep t' make it home, ye've got t'
sit an' sigh
An' watch beside a loved one's bed, an' know
that Death is nigh;
An' in the stillness o' the night t' see Death's
angel come,
An' close the eyes o' her that smiled, an' leave
her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an'
when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an'
An' tuggin' at ye always are the pleasant
O' her that was an' is no more -- ye can't escape
from these.

Ye've got t' sing an' dance fer years, ye've got
t' romp an' play,
An' learn t' love the things ye have by usin' 'em
each day;
Even the roses 'round the porch must blossom
year by year
Afore they 'come a part o' ye, suggestin'
someone dear
Who used t' love 'em long ago, an' trained 'em
jes t' run
The way they do, so's they would get the early
mornin' sun;
Ye've got t' love each brick an' stone from
cellar up t' dome:
It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it


The little path that leads to home,
That is the road for me,
I know no finer path to roam,
With finer sights to see.
With thoroughfares the world is lined
That lead to wonders new,
But he who treads them leaves behind
The tender things and true.

Oh, north and south and east and west
The crowded roadways go,
And sweating brow and weary breast
Are all they seem to know.
And mad for pleasure some are bent,
And some are seeking fame,
And some are sick with discontent,
And some are bruised and lame.

Across the world the gleaming steel
Holds out its lure for men,
But no one finds his comfort real
Till he comes home again.
And charted lanes now line the sea
For weary hearts to roam,
But, Oh, the finest path to me
Is that which leads to home.

'Tis there I come to laughing eyes
And find a welcome true;
'Tis there all care behind me lies
And joy is ever new.
And, Oh, when every day is done
Upon that little street,
A pair of rosy youngsters run
To me with flying feet.

The world with myriad paths is lined
But one alone for me,
One little road where I may find
The charms I want to see.
Though thoroughfares majestic call
The multitude to roam,
I would not leave, to know them all,
The path that leads to home.


I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have
been to me;
I'd like to be the help that you've been always
glad to be;
I'd like to mean as much to you each minute
of the day
As you have meant, old friend of mine, to me
along the way.

I'd like to do the big things and the splendid
things for you,
To brush the gray from out your skies and
leave them only blue;
I'd like to say the kindly things that I so oft
have heard,
And feel that I could rouse your soul the way
that mine you've stirred.

I'd like to give you back the joy that you have
given me,
Yet that were wishing you a need I hope will
never be;
I'd like to make you feel as rich as I, who
travel on
Undaunted in the darkest hours with you to
lean upon.

I'm wishing at this Christmas time that I could
but repay
A portion of the gladness that you've strewn
along my way;
And could I have one wish this year, this only
would it be:
I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have
been to me.


None knows the day that friends must part
None knows how near is sorrow;
If there be laughter in your heart,
Don't hold it for to-morrow.
Smile all the smiles you can to-day;
Grief waits for all along the way.

To-day is ours for joy and mirth;
We may be sad to-morrow;
Then let us sing for all we've worth,
Nor give a thought to sorrow.
None knows what lies along the way;
Let's smile what smiles we can to-day.


I do not say new friends are not considerate and
Or that their smiles ain't genuine, but still I'm
tellin' you
That when a feller's heart is crushed and achin'
with the pain,
And teardrops come a-splashin' down his cheeks
like summer rain,
Becoz his grief an' loneliness are more than
he can bear,
Somehow it's only old friends, then, that really
seem to care.
The friends who've stuck through thick an'
thin, who've known you, good an' bad,
Your faults an' virtues, an' have seen the strug-
gles you have had,
When they come to you gentle-like an' take
your hand an' say:
"Cheer up! we're with you still," it counts, for
that's the old friends' way.

The new friends may be fond of you for what
you are to-day;
They've only known you rich, perhaps, an' only
seen you gay;
You can't tell what's attracted them; your
station may appeal;
Perhaps they smile on you because you're doin'
something real;
But old friends who have seen you fail, an' also
seen you win,
Who've loved you either up or down, stuck
to you, thick or thin,
Who knew you as a budding youth, an' watched
you start to climb,
Through weal an' woe, still friends of yours
an' constant all the time,
When trouble comes an' things go wrong, I
don't care what you say,
They are the friends you'll turn to, for you
want the old friends' way.

The new friends may be richer, an' more stylish,
too, but when
Your heart is achin' an' you think your sun
won't shine again,
It's not the riches of new friends you want, it's
not their style,
It's not the airs of grandeur then, it's just the
old friend's smile,
The old hand that has helped before, stretched
out once more to you,
The old words ringin' in your ears, so sweet an',
Oh, so true!
The tenderness of folks who know just what
your sorrow means,
These are the things on which, somehow, your
spirit always leans.
When grief is poundin' at your breast -- the
new friends disappear
An' to the old ones tried an' true, you turn for
aid an' cheer.


We was speakin' of folks, jes' common folks,
An' we come to this conclusion,
That wherever they be, on land or sea,
They warm to a home allusion;
That under the skin an' under the hide
There's a spark that starts a-glowin'
Whenever they look at a scene or book
That something of home is showin'.

They may differ in creeds an' politics,
They may argue an' even quarrel,
But their throats grip tight, if they catch a
Of their favorite elm or laurel.
An' the winding lane that they used to tread
With never a care to fret 'em,
Or the pasture gate where they used to wait,
Right under the skin will get 'em.

Now folks is folks on their different ways,
With their different griefs an' pleasures,
But the home they knew, when their years were
Is the dearest of all their treasures.
An' the richest man to the poorest waif
Right under the skin is brother
When they stand an' sigh, with a tear-dimmed
At a thought of the dear old mother.

It makes no difference where it may be,
Nor the fortunes that years may alter,
Be they simple or wise, the old home ties
Make all of 'em often falter.
Time may robe 'em in sackcloth coarse
Or garb 'em in gorgeous splendor,
But whatever their lot, they keep one spot
Down deep that is sweet an' tender.

We was speakin' of folks, jes' common folks,
An' we come to this conclusion,
That one an' all, be they great or small,
Will warm to a home allusion;
That under the skin an' the beaten hide
They're kin in a real affection
For the joys they knew, when their years were
An' the home of their recollection.


Little Master Mischievous, that's the name for
There's no better title that describes the things
you do:
Into something all the while where you
shouldn't be,
Prying into matters that are not for you to see;
Little Master Mischievous, order's overthrown
If your mother leaves you for a minute all

Little Master Mischievous, opening every door,
Spilling books and papers round about the parlor
Scratching all the tables and marring all the
Climbing where you shouldn't climb and tum-
bling down the stairs.
How'd you get the ink well? We can never
Now the rug is ruined; so's your little dress.

Little Master Mischievous, in the cookie jar,
Who has ever told you where the cookies are?
Now your sticky fingers smear the curtains
You have finger-printed everything in sight.
There's no use in scolding; when you smile that
You can rob of terror every word we say.

Little Master Mischievous, that's the name for
There's no better title that describes the things
you do:
Prying into corners, peering into nooks,
Tugging table covers, tearing costly books.
Little Master Mischievous, have your roguish
Time, I know, will stop you, soon enough some


So long as men shall be on earth
There will be tasks for them to do,
Some way for them to show their worth;
Each day shall bring its problems new.

And men shall dream of mightier deeds
Than ever have been done before:
There always shall be human needs
For men to work and struggle for.


There's a lot of joy in the smiling world,
there's plenty of morning sun,
And laughter and songs and dances, too, when-
ever the day's work's done;
Full many an hour is a shining one, when
viewed by itself apart,
But the golden threads in the warp of life are
the sorrow tugs at your heart.

Oh, the fun is froth and it blows away, and
many a joy's forgot,
And the pleasures come and the pleasures go,
and memory holds them not;
But treasured ever you keep the pain that causes
your tears to start,
For the sweetest hours are the ones that bring
the sorrow tugs at your heart.

The lump in your throat and the little sigh when
your baby trudged away
The very first time to the big red school -- how
long will their memory stay?
The fever days and the long black nights you
watched as she troubled, slept,
And the joy you felt when she smiled once
more -- how long will that all be kept?

The glad hours live in a feeble way, but the sad
ones never die.
His first long trousers caused a pang and you
saw them with a sigh.
And the big still house when the boy and girl,
unto youth and beauty grown,
To college went; will you e'er forget that first
grim hour alone?

It seems as you look back over things, that all
that you treasure dear
Is somehow blent in a wondrous way with a
heart pang and a tear.
Though many a day is a joyous one when
viewed by itself apart,
The golden threads in the warp of life are the
sorrow tugs at your heart.


Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame
To show how well he has played the game;
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and to hear his voice.

Only a dad with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad but he gives his all,
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing with courage stern and grim
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen:
Only a dad, but the best of men.


I'm not the man to say that failure's sweet,
Nor tell a chap to laugh when things go
I know it hurts to have to take defeat
An' no one likes to lose before a throng;
It isn't very pleasant not to win
When you have done the very best you could;
But if you're down, get up an' buckle in --
A lickin' often does a fellow good.

I've seen some chaps who never knew their
Until somebody knocked 'em to the floor;
I've known men who discovered in an hour
A courage they had never shown before.
I've seen 'em rise from failure to the top
By doin' things they hadn't understood
Before the day disaster made 'em drop --
A lickin' often does a fellow good.

Success is not the teacher, wise an' true,
That gruff old failure is, remember that;
She's much too apt to make a fool of you,
Which isn't true of blows that knock you flat.
Hard knocks are painful things an' hard to bear,
An' most of us would dodge 'em if we could;
There's something mighty broadening in care --
A lickin' often does a fellow good.


It's coming time for planting in that little patch
of ground,
Where the lad and I made merry as he followed
me around;
Now the sun is getting higher, and the skies
above are blue,
And I'm hungry for the garden, and I wish the
war was through.
But it's tramp, tramp, tramp,
And it's never look behind,
And when you see a stranger's kids
Pretend that you are blind.

The spring is coming back again, the birds
begin to mate;
The skies are full of kindness, but the world is
full of hate.
And it's I that should be bending now in peace
above the soil
With laughing eyes and little hands about to
bless the toil.
But it's fight, fight, fight,
And it's charge at double-quick;
A soldier thinking thoughts of home
Is one more soldier sick.

Last year I brought the bulbs to bloom and
saw the roses bud;
This year I'm ankle deep in mire, and most of
it is blood.
Last year the mother in the door was glad as
she could be;
To-day her heart is full of pain, and mine is
hurting me.
But it's shoot, shoot, shoot,
And when the bullets hiss,
Don't let the tears fill up your eyes,
For weeping soldiers miss.

Oh, who will tend the roses now and who will
sow the seeds?
And who will do the heavy work the little
garden needs?
And who will tell the lad of mine the things
he wants to know,
And take his hand and lead him round the
paths we used to go?
For it's charge, charge, charge,
And it's face the foe once more;
Forget the things you love the most
And keep your mind on gore.


Used to wonder just why father
Never had much time for play,
Used to wonder why he'd rather
Work each minute of the day.
Used to wonder why he never
Loafed along the road an' shirked;
Can't recall a time whenever
Father played while others worked.

Father didn't dress in fashion,
Sort of hated clothing new;
Style with him was not a passion;
He had other things in view.
Boys are blind to much that's going
On about 'em day by day,
And I had no way of knowing
What became of father's pay.

All I knew was when I needed
Shoes I got 'em on the spot;
Everything for which I pleaded,
Somehow, father always got.
Wondered, season after season,
Why he never took a rest,
And that _I_ might be the reason
Then I never even guessed.

Father set a store on knowledge;
If he'd lived to have his way
He'd have sent me off to college
And the bills been glad to pay.
That, I know, was his ambition:
Now and then he used to say
He'd have done his earthly mission
On my graduation day.

Saw his cheeks were getting paler,
Didn't understand just why;
Saw his body growing frailer,
Then at last I saw him die.
Rest had come! His tasks were ended,
Calm was written on his brow;
Father's life was big and splendid,
And I understand it now.


Show me the boy who never threw
A stone at someone's cat,
Or never hurled a snowball swift
At someone's high silk hat --
Who never ran away from school,
To seek the swimming hole,
Or slyly from a neighbor's yard
Green apples never stole --

Show me the boy who never broke
A pane of window glass,
Who never disobeyed the sign
That says: "Keep off the grass."
Who never did a thousand things,
That grieve us sore to tell,
And I'll show you a little boy
Who must be far from well.


I never knew, until they went,
How much their laughter really meant
I never knew how much the place
Depended on each little face;
How barren home could be and drear
Without its living beauties here.

I never knew that chairs and books
Could wear such sad and solemn looks!
That rooms and halls could be at night
So still and drained of all delight.
This home is now but brick and board
Where bits of furniture are stored.

I used to think I loved each shelf
And room for what it was itself.
And once I thought each picture fine
Because I proudly called it mine.
But now I know they mean no more
Than art works hanging in a store.

Until they went away to roam
I never knew what made it home.
But I have learned that all is base,
However wonderful the place
And decked with costly treasures, rare,
Unless the living joys are there.


My Pa he eats his breakfast in a funny sort of
We hardly ever see him at the first meal of the
Ma puts his food before him and he settles in
his place
An' then he props the paper up and we can't
see his face;
We hear him blow his coffee and we hear him
chew his toast,
But it's for the morning paper that he seems
to care the most.

Ma says that little children mighty grateful
ought to be
To the folks that fixed the evening as the proper
time for tea.
She says if meals were only served to people
once a day,
An' that was in the morning just before Pa goes
We'd never know how father looked when he
was in his place,
Coz he'd always have the morning paper stuck
before his face.

He drinks his coffee steamin' hot, an' passes
Ma his cup
To have it filled a second time, an' never once
looks up.
He never has a word to say, but just sits there
an' reads,
An' when she sees his hand stuck out Ma gives
him what he needs.
She guesses what it is he wants, coz it's no use
to ask:
Pa's got to read his paper an' sometimes that's
quite a task.

One morning we had breakfast an' his features
we could see,
But his face was long an' solemn an' he didn't
speak to me,
An' we couldn't get him laughin' an' we couldn't
make him smile,
An' he said the toast was soggy an' the coffee
simply vile.
Then Ma said: "What's the matter? Why are
you so cross an' glum?"
An' Pa 'most took her head off coz the paper
didn't come.


_Can't_ is the worst word that's written or
Doing more harm here than slander and lies;
On it is many a strong spirit broken,
And with it many a good purpose dies.
It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each
And robs us of courage we need through the
It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning
And laughs when we falter and fall by the

_Can't_ is the father of feeble endeavor,
The parent of terror and half-hearted work;
It weakens the efforts of artisans clever,
And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk.
It poisons the soul of the man with a vision,
It stifles in infancy many a plan;
It greets honest toiling with open derision
And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a

_Can't_ is a word none should speak without
To utter it should be a symbol of shame;
Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;
It blights a man's purpose and shortens his
Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain;
Arm against it as a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of you some day shall

_Can't_ is the word that is foe to ambition,
An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
Its prey is forever the man with a mission
And bows but to courage and patience and
Hate it, with hatred that's deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed 'twill break any
Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
And answer this demon by saying: "I _can_."


_Written July 22, 1916, when the
world lost its "Poet of Childhood."_

There must be great rejoicin' on the Golden
Shore to-day,
An' the big an' little angels must be feelin'
mighty gay:
Could we look beyond the curtain now I fancy
we should see
Old Aunt Mary waitin', smilin', for the coming
that's to be,
An' Little Orphant Annie an' the whole excited
Dancin' up an' down an' shoutin': "Mr. Riley's
comin' back!"

There's a heap o' real sadness in this good old
world to-day;
There are lumpy throats this morning now that
Riley's gone away;
There's a voice now stilled forever that in
sweetness only spoke
An' whispered words of courage with a faith that
never broke.
There is much of joy and laughter that we
mortals here will lack,
But the angels must be happy now that Riley's
comin' back.

The world was gettin' dreary, there was too
much sigh an' frown
In this vale o' mortal strivin', so God sent Jim
Riley down,
An' He said: "Go there an' cheer 'em in your
good old-fashioned way,
With your songs of tender sweetness, but don't
make your plans to stay,
Coz you're needed up in Heaven. I am lendin'
you to men
Just to help 'em with your music, but I'll want
you back again."

An' Riley came, an' mortals heard the music of
his voice
An' they caught his songs o' beauty an' they
started to rejoice;
An' they leaned on him in sorrow, an' they
shared with him their joys,
An' they walked with him the pathways that
they knew when they were boys.
But the heavenly angels missed him, missed his
tender, gentle knack
Of makin' people happy, an' they wanted Riley

There must be great rejoicin' on the streets of
Heaven to-day
An' all the angel children must be troopin'
down the way,
Singin' heavenly songs of welcome an' pre-
parin' now to greet
The soul that God had tinctured with an ever-
lasting sweet;
The world is robed in sadness an' is draped in
sombre black;
But joy must reign in Heaven now that Riley's
comin' back.


The man who wants a garden fair,
Or small or very big,
With flowers growing here and there,
Must bend his back and dig.

The things are mighty few on earth
That wishes can attain.
Whate'er we want of any worth
We've got to work to gain.

It matters not what goal you seek
Its secret here reposes:
You've got to dig from week to week
To get Results or Roses.


Are you fond of your wife and your children
So is the other fellow.
Do you crave pleasures for them to share?
So does the other fellow.
Does your heart rejoice when your own are
And are you troubled when they are sad?
Well, it's that way, too, in this life, my lad,
That way with the other fellow.

Do you want the best for your own to know?
So does the other fellow.
Do you stoop to kiss them before you go?
So does the other fellow.
When your baby lies on a fevered bed,
Does your heart run cold with a silent dread?
Well, it's that way, too, where all mortals tread --
That way with the other fellow.

Does it hurt when they want what you cannot
It does with the other fellow.
Do you for their comfort yourself deny?
So does the other fellow.
Would you wail aloud if your babe should die
For the lack of care you could not supply?
Well, it's that way, too, as he travels by,
That way with the other fellow.


Less hate and greed
Is what we need
And more of service true;
More men to love
The flag above
And keep it first in view.

Less boast and brag
About the flag,
More faith in what it means;
More heads erect,
More self-respect,
Less talk of war machines.

The time to fight
To keep it bright
Is not along the way,
Nor 'cross the foam,
But here at home
Within ourselves -- to-day.

'Tis we must love
That flag above
With all our might and main;
For from our hands,
Not distant lands,
Shall come dishonor's stain.

If that flag be
Dishonored, we
Have done it, not the foe;
If it shall fall
We first of all
Shall be to strike a blow.


Cheek that is tanned to the wind of the north.
Body that jests at the bite of the cold,
Limbs that are eager and strong to go forth
Into the wilds and the ways of the bold;
Red blood that pulses and throbs in the veins,
Ears that love silences better than noise;
Strength of the forest and health of the plains;
These the rewards that the hunter enjoys.

Forests were ever the cradles of men;
Manhood is born of a kinship with trees.
Whence shall come brave hearts and stout
muscles, when
Woods have made way for our cities of ease?
Oh, do you wonder that stalwarts return
Yearly to hark to the whispering oaks?
'Tis for the brave days of old that they yearn:
These are the splendors the hunter invokes.


It's September, and the orchards are afire with
red and gold,
And the nights with dew are heavy, and the
morning's sharp with cold;
Now the garden's at its gayest with the salvia
blazing red
And the good old-fashioned asters laughing
at us from their bed;
Once again in shoes and stockings are the chil-
dren's little feet,
And the dog now does his snoozing on the
bright side of the street.

It's September, and the cornstalks are as high
as they will go,
And the red cheeks of the apples everywhere
begin to show;
Now the supper's scarcely over ere the dark-
ness settles down
And the moon looms big and yellow at the
edges of the town;
Oh, it's good to see the children, when their
little prayers are said,
Duck beneath the patchwork covers when they
tumble into bed.

It's September, and a calmness and a sweetness
seem to fall
Over everything that's living, just as though it
hears the call
Of Old Winter, trudging slowly, with his pack
of ice and snow,
In the distance over yonder, and it somehow
seems as though
Every tiny little blossom wants to look its very
When the frost shall bite its petals and it droops
away to rest.

It's September! It's the fullness and the ripe-
ness of the year;
All the work of earth is finished, or the final
tasks are near,
But there is no doleful wailing; every living
thing that grows,
For the end that is approaching wears the
finest garb it knows.
And I pray that I may proudly hold my head
up high and smile
When I come to my September in the golden


How do you tackle your work each day?
Are you scared of the job you find?
Do you grapple the task that comes your way
With a confident, easy mind?
Do you stand right up to the work ahead
Or fearfully pause to view it?
Do you start to toil with a sense of dread
Or feel that you're going to do it?

You can do as much as you think you can,
But you'll never accomplish more;
If you're afraid of yourself, young man,
There's little for you in store.
For failure comes from the inside first,
It's there if we only knew it,
And you can win, though you face the worst,
If you feel that you're going to do it.

Success! It's found in the soul of you,
And not in the realm of luck!
The world will furnish the work to do,
But you must provide the pluck.
You can do whatever you think you can,
It's all in the way you view it.
It's all in the start that you make, young man:
You must feel that you're going to do it.

How do you tackle your work each day?
With confidence clear, or dread?
What to yourself do you stop and say
When a new task lies ahead?
What is the thought that is in your mind?
Is fear ever running through it?
If so, just tackle the next you find
By thinking you're going to do it.


Life is a gift to be used every day,
Not to be smothered and hidden away;
It isn't a thing to be stored in the chest
Where you gather your keepsakes and treasure
your best;
It isn't a joy to be sipped now and then
And promptly put back in a dark place again.

Life is a gift that the humblest may boast of
And one that the humblest may well make the
most of.
Get out and live it each hour of the day,
Wear it and use it as much as you may;
Don't keep it in niches and corners and grooves,
You'll find that in service its beauty improves.


Most every night when they're in bed,
And both their little prayers have said,
They shout for me to come upstairs
And tell them tales of gypsies bold,
And eagles with the claws that hold
A baby's weight, and fairy sprites
That roam the woods on starry nights.

And I must illustrate these tales,
Must imitate the northern gales
That toss the Indian's canoe,
And show the way he paddles, too.
If in the story comes a bear,
I have to pause and sniff the air
And show the way he climbs the trees
To steal the honey from the bees.

And then I buzz like angry bees
And sting him on his nose and knees
And howl in pain, till mother cries:
"That pair will never shut their eyes,
While all that noise up there you make;
You're simply keeping them awake."
And then they whisper: "Just one more,"
And once again I'm forced to roar.

New stories every night they ask.
And that is not an easy task;
I have to be so many things,
The frog that croaks, the lark that sings,
The cunning fox, the frightened hen;
But just last night they stumped me, when
They wanted me to twist and squirm
And imitate an angle worm.

At last they tumble off to sleep,
And softly from their room I creep
And brush and comb the shock of hair
I tossed about to be a bear.
Then mother says: "Well, I should say
You're just as much a child as they."
But you can bet I'll not resign
That story telling job of mine.


There's a wondrous smell of spices
In the kitchen,
Most bewitchin';
There are fruits cut into slices
That just set the palate itchin';
There's the sound of spoon on platter
And the rattle and the clatter;
And a bunch of kids are hastin'
To the splendid joy of tastin':
It's the frangrant time of year
When fruit-cannin' days are here.

There's a good wife gayly smilin'
And perspirin'
Some, and tirin';
And while jar on jar she's pilin'
And the necks o' them she's wirin'
I'm a-sittin' here an' dreamin'
Of the kettles that are steamin',
And the cares that have been troublin'
All have vanished in the bubblin'.
I am happy that I'm here
At the cannin' time of year.

Lord, I'm sorry for the feller
That is missin'
All the hissin'
Of the juices, red and yeller,
And can never sit and listen
To the rattle and the clatter
Of the sound of spoon on platter.
I am sorry for the single,
For they miss the thrill and tingle
Of the splendid time of year
When the cannin' days are here.


It's the dull road that leads to the gay road;
The practice that leads to success;
The work road that leads to the play road;
It is trouble that breeds happiness.

It's the hard work and merciless grinding
That purchases glory and fame;
It's repeatedly doing, nor minding
The drudgery drear of the game.

It's the passing up glamor or pleasure
For the sake of the skill we may gain,
And in giving up comfort or leisure
For the joy that we hope to attain.

It's the hard road of trying and learning,
Of toiling, uncheered and alone,
That wins us the prizes worth earning,
And leads us to goals we would own.


When an apple tree is ready for the world to
come and eat,
There isn't any structure in the land that's
"got it beat."
There's nothing man has builded with the
beauty or the charm
That can touch the simple grandeur of the
monarch of the farm.
There's never any picture from a human
being's brush
That has ever caught the redness of a single apple's blush.

When an apple tree's in blossom it is glorious
to see,
But that's just a hint, at springtime, of the
better things to be;
That is just a fairy promise from the Great
Magician's wand
Of the wonders and the splendors that are
waiting just beyond
The distant edge of summer; just a forecast
of the treat
When the apple tree is ready for the world
to come and eat.

Architects of splendid vision long have labored
on the earth,
And have raised their dreams in marble and
we've marveled at their worth;
Long the spires of costly churches have looked
upward at the sky;
Rich in promise and in the beauty, they have
cheered the passer-by.
But I'm sure there's nothing finer for the eye
of man to meet
Than an apple tree that's ready for the world
to come and eat.

There's the promise of the apples, red and
gleaming in the sun,
Like the medals worn by mortals as rewards
for labors done;
And the big arms stretched wide open, with a
welcome warm and true
In a way that sets you thinking it's intended
just for you.
There is nothing with a beauty so entrancing,
so complete,
As an apple tree that's ready for the world to
come and eat.


Some folks leave home for money
And some leave home for fame,
Some seek skies always sunny,
And some depart in shame.
I care not what the reason
Men travel east and west,
Or what the month or season --
The home-town is the best.

The home-town is the glad town
Where something real abides;
'Tis not the money-mad town
That all its spirit hides.
Though strangers scoff and flout it
And even jeer its name,
It has a charm about it
No other town can claim.

The home-town skies seem bluer
Than skies that stretch away,
The home-town friends seem truer
And kinder through the day;
And whether glum or cheery
Light-hearted or depressed,
Or struggle-fit or weary,
I like the home-town best.

Let him who will, go wander
To distant towns to live,
Of some things I am fonder
Than all they have to give.
The gold of distant places
Could not repay me quite
For those familiar faces
That keep the home-town bright.


Take home a smile; forget the petty cares,
The dull, grim grind of all the day's affairs;
The day is done, come be yourself awhile:
To-night, to those who wait, take home a smile.

Take home a smile; don't scatter grief and gloom
Where laughter and light hearts should always
What though you've traveled many a dusty mile,
Footsore and weary, still take home a smile.

Take home a smile -- it is not much to do,
But much it means to them who wait for you;
You can be brave for such a little while;
The day of doubt is done -- take home a smile.


Courage isn't a brilliant dash,
A daring deed in a moment's flash;
It isn't an instantaneous thing
Born of despair with a sudden spring
It isn't a creature of flickered hope
Or the final tug at a slipping rope;
But it's something deep in the soul of man
That is working always to serve some plan.

Courage isn't the last resort
In the work of life or the game of sport;
It isn't a thing that a man can call
At some future time when he's apt to fall;
If he hasn't it now, he will have it not
When the strain is great and the pace is hot.
For who would strive for a distant goal
Must always have courage within his soul.

Courage isn't a dazzling light
That flashes and passes away from sight;
It's a slow, unwavering, ingrained trait
With the patience to work and the strength to
It's part of a man when his skies are blue,
It's part of him when he has work to do.
The brave man never is freed of it.
He has it when there is no need of it.

Courage was never designed for show;
It isn't a thing that can come and go;
It's written in victory and defeat
And every trial a man may meet.
It's part of his hours, his days and his years,
Back of his smiles and behind his tears.
Courage is more than a daring deed:
It's the breath of life and a strong man's creed.


We can be great by helping one another;
We can be loved for very simple deeds;
Who has the grateful mention of a brother
Has really all the honor that he needs.

We can be famous for our works of kindness --
Fame is not born alone of strength or skill;
It sometimes comes from deafness and from
To petty words and faults, and loving still.

We can be rich in gentle smiles and sunny:
A jeweled soul exceeds a royal crown.
The richest men sometimes have little money,
And Croesus oft's the poorest man in town.


I've sipped a rich man's sparkling wine,
His silverware I've handled.
I've placed these battered legs of mine
'Neath tables gayly candled.
I dine on rare and costly fare
Whene'er good fortune lets me,
But there's no meal that can compare
With those the missus gets me.

I've had your steaks three inches thick
With all your Sam Ward trimming,
I've had the breast of milk-fed chick
In luscious gravy swimming.
To dine in swell cafe or club
But irritates and frets me;
Give me the plain and wholesome grub --
The grub the missus gets me.

Two kiddies smiling at the board,
The cook right at the table,
The four of us, a hungry horde,
To beat that none is able.
A big meat pie, with flaky crust!
'Tis then that joy besets me;
Oh, I could eat until I "bust,"
Those meals the missus gets me.


I'd like to leave but daffodills to mark my little
To leave but tulips red and white behind me as
I stray;
I'd like to pass away from earth and feel I'd
left behind
But roses and forget-me-nots for all who come
to find.

I'd like to sow the barren spots with all the
flowers of earth,
To leave a path where those who come should
find but gentle mirth;
And when at last I'm called upon to join the
heavenly throng
I'd like to feel along my way I'd left no sign
of wrong.

And yet the cares are many and the hours of
toil are few;
There is not time enough on earth for all I'd
like to do;
But, having lived and having toiled, I'd like the
world to find
Some little touch of beauty that my soul had
left behind.


When he was only nine months old,
And plump and round and pink of cheek,
A joy to tickle and to hold,
Before he'd even learned to speak,
His gentle mother used to say:
"It is too bad that he must grow.
If I could only have my way
His baby ways we'd always know."

And then the year was turned, and he
Began to toddle round the floor
And name the things that he could see
And soil the dresses that he wore.
Then many a night she whispered low:
"Our baby now is such a joy
I hate to think that he must grow
To be a wild and heedless boy."

But on he went and sweeter grew,
And then his mother, I recall,
Wished she could keep him always two,
For that's the finest age of all.
She thought the selfsame thing at three,
And now that he is four, she sighs
To think he cannot always be
The youngster with the laughing eyes.

Oh, little boy, my wish is not
Always to keep you four years old.
Each night I stand beside your cot
And think of what the years may hold;
And looking down on you I pray
That when we've lost our baby small,
The mother of our man will say
"This is the finest age of all."


I do not think all failure's undeserved,
And all success is merely someone's luck;
Some men are down because they were unnerved,
And some are up because they kept their pluck.
Some men are down because they chose to shirk;
Some men are high because they did their work.

I do not think that all the poor are good,
That riches are the uniform of shame;
The beggar might have conquered if he would,
And that he begs, the world is not to blame.
Misfortune is not all that comes to mar;
Most men, themselves, have shaped the things
they are.


The skies are blue and the sun is out and the
grass is green and soft
And the old charm's back in the apple tree
and it calls a boy aloft;
And the same low voice that the old don't hear,
but the care-free youngsters do,
Is calling them to the fields and streams and
the joys that once I knew.
And if youth be wild desire for play and care
is the mark of men,
Beneath the skin that Time has tanned I'm a
madcap youngster then.

Far richer than king with his crown of gold and
his heavy weight of care
Is the sunburned boy with his stone-bruised feet
and his tousled shock of hair;
For the king can hear but the cry of hate or the
sickly sound of praise,
And lost to him are the voices sweet that called
in his boyhood days.
Far better than ruler, with pomp and power
and riches, is it to be
The urchin gay in his tattered clothes that is
climbing the apple tree.

Oh, once I heard all the calls that come to the
quick, glad ears of boys,
And a certain spot on the river bank told me of
its many joys,
And certain fields and certain trees were loyal
friends to me,
And I knew the birds, and I owned a dog, and
we both could hear and see.
Oh, never from tongues of men have dropped
such messages wholly glad
As the things that live in the great outdoors
once told to a little lad.

And I'm sorry for him who cannot hear what
the tall trees have to say,
Who is deaf to the call of a running stream
and the lanes that lead to play.
The boy that shins up the faithful elm or
sprawls on a river bank
Is more richly blessed with the joys of life than
any old man of rank.
For youth is the golden time of life, and this
battered old heart of mine
Beats fast to the march of its old-time joys,
when the sun begins to shine.


Foxes can talk if you know how to listen,
My Paw said so.
Owls have big eyes that sparkle an' glisten,
My Paw said so.
Bears can turn flip-flaps an' climb ellum trees,
An' steal all the honey away from the bees,
An' they never mind winter becoz they don't
My Paw said so.

Girls is a-scared of a snake, but boys ain't,
My Paw said so.
They holler an' run; an' sometimes they faint,
My Paw said so.
But boys would be 'shamed to be frightened
that way
When all that the snake wants to do is to play;
You've got to believe every word that I say,
My Paw said so.

Wolves ain't so bad if you treat 'em all right,
My Paw said so.
They're as fond of a game as they are of a fight,
My Paw said so.
An' all of the animals found in the wood
Ain't always ferocious. Most times they are

The trouble is mostly they're misunderstood,
My Paw said so.
You can think what you like, but I stick to it
My Paw said so.
An' I'll keep right on sayin', again an' again,
My Paw said so.
Maybe foxes don't talk to such people as you,
An' bears never show you the tricks they can do,
But I know that the stories I'm tellin' are true,
My Paw said so.


If never a sorrow came to us, and never a care
we knew;
If every hope were realized, and every dream
came true;
If only joy were found on earth, and no one
ever sighed,
And never a friend proved false to us, and never
a loved one died,
And never a burden bore us down, soul-sick and
weary, too,
We'd yearn for tests to prove our worth and
tasks for us to do.


Let others sing their songs of war
And chant their hymns of splendid death,
Let others praise the soldiers' ways
And hail the cannon's flaming breath.
Let others sing of Glory's fields
Where blood for Victory is paid,
I choose to sing some simple thing
To those who wield not gun or blade --
The peaceful warriors of trade.

Let others choose the deeds of war
For symbols of our nation's skill,
The blood-red coat, the rattling throat,
The regiment that charged the hill,
The boy who died to serve the flag,
Who heard the order and obeyed,
But leave to me the gallantry
Of those who labor unafraid --
The peaceful warriors of trade.

Aye, let me sing the splendid deeds
Of those who toil to serve mankind,
The men who break old ways and make
New paths for those who come behind.
And face their problems, unafraid,
Who think and plan to lift for man
The burden that on him is laid --
The splendid warriors of trade.

I sing of battles with disease
And victories o'er death and pain,


Back to Full Books