OFF-DUTY MOTIVATIONAL READING:  39 Selected Poems
(Walls below)

Precious Fruit

Adapted by Len Smith

from Martha Haskell Clark’s Red Geraniums

 

Life did not bring me silken gowns,

nor jewels for my hair.

Nor fame and friends

to make my days so fair.

But I can see, in my daily life,

the word of God taking root,

And turning me from a carnal tree,

into one that’s bearing fruit.

 

The brambled trials of every day,

the petty tempting things,

May bother me all along the way,

but still my heart has wings,

Because I can see, in my daily life,

the word of God taking root,

And turning me from a carnal tree,

into one that’s bearing fruit.

 

And if my druthers ne’er come true,

for earthly fellowship and all the rest,

And I find myself alone

my journey through,

I’ll thankfully rejoice that

God has blessed,

Because I can see, in my daily life,

the word of God taking root,

And turning me from a carnal tree,

into one that’s bearing fruit.

 

Red Geraniums

By Martha Haskell Clark

 

Life did not bring me silken gowns,

Nor jewels for my hair,

Nor signs of gabled foreign towns

In distant countries fair,

But I can glimpse, beyond my pane,

a green and friendly hill,

And red geraniums aflame

upon my window sill.

 

The brambled cares of everyday,

The tiny humdrum things,

May bind my feet when they would stray,

But still my heart has wings

While red geraniums are bloomed

against my window glass,

And low above my green-sweet hill

the gypsy wind-clouds pass.

 

And if my dreamings ne’er come true,

The brightest and the best,

But leave me lone my journey through,

I’ll set my heart at rest,

And thank God for home-sweet things,

a green and friendly hill,

And red geraniums aflame

upon my window sill.

 

It Couldn’t Be Done

By Edgar Guest

 

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,

But he with a chuckle replied

That maybe it couldn’t, but he would be one

Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

On his face.  If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

 

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;

At least no one ever has done it”;

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,

And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

Without any doubting or quiddit,

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

  That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

 

There are thousands to tell you

it cannot be done,

There are thousands

to prophesy failure;

There are thousands to point out

to you, one by one,

The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start to sing as you tackle the thing

That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

 

Touching Shoulders

By unknown

 

There’s a comforting thought

at the close of the day,

When I’m weary

and lonely and sad,

That sort of grips hold

of my crusty old heart

And bids it

be merry and glad.

It gets in my soul

and drives out the blues,

And finally

thrills through and through.

It is just a sweet memory

that chants the refrain:

“I’m glad I touched shoulders with you!”

 

Did you know you were brave,

did you know you were strong?

Did you know there was

one leaning hard?

Did you know

that I waited and listened and prayed,

And was cheered

by your simplest word?

Did you know that I longed

for that smile on your face,

For the sound of your

voice ringing true?

Did you know that I grew stronger

and better because

I had merely touched shoulders with you?

 

I am glad that I live,

that I battle and strive

For the place that I know

I must fill;

I am thankful for sorrows,

I’ll meet with a grin

What fortune may send,

good or ill.

I may not have wealth,

I may not be great,

But I know I shall always

be true,

For I have in my life

that courage you gave

When once I rubbed shoulders with you.

 

A Song from Sylvan

By Louise Imogen Guiney

 

The little cares that fretted me,

I lost them yesterday

Among the fields above the sea,

Among the winds at play;

Among the lowing herds,

The rustling of the trees,

Among the singing birds,

The humming of the bees.

 

The fears of what may come to pass,

I cast them all away,

Among the clover-scented grass,

Among the new-mown hay;

Among the husking of the corn,

Where the drowsy poppies nod,

Where ill thoughts die and good are born,

Out in the fields with God.

 

The Old Oaken Bucket

By Samuel Woodworth

 

How dear to this heart

are the scenes of my childhood,

When fond recollection

presents them to view!

The orchard, the meadow,

the deep-tangled wild-wood,

And every loved spot

which my infancy knew!

The wide-spreading pond,

and the mill that stood by it,

The bridge, and the rock

where the cataract fell,

The cot of my father,

the dairy-house nigh it,

And e’en the rude bucket

that hung in the well

The old oaken bucket,

the iron-bound bucket,

The moss-covered bucket

which hung in the well.

 

That moss-covered vessel

I hailed as a treasure;

For often at noon,

when returned from the field,

I found it the source

of an exquisite pleasure,

The purest and sweetest

that nature can yield.

How ardent I seized it,

with hands that were glowing,

And quick to the white-

pebbled bottom it fell;

Then soon, with the emblem

of truth overflowing,

And dripping with coolness,

it rose from the well;

The old oaken bucket,

the iron-bound bucket,

The moss-covered bucket

arose from the well.

 

How sweet from the green

mossy brim to receive it,

As poised on the curb,

it inclined to my lips!

Not a full blushing goblet

could tempt me to leave it,

Though filled with the nectar

that Jupiter sips.

And now, far removed

from the loved habitation,

The tear of regret

will intrusively swell,

As fancy reverts

to my father’s plantation,

And sighs for the bucket

that hangs in the well;

The old oaken bucket,

the iron-bound bucket,

The moss-covered bucket

that hangs in the well!

 

The Old Oaken Bucket

(As Censored by the Board of Health)

By unknown

 

With what anguish of mind

I remember my childhood,

Recalled in the light

of knowledge since gained:

The malarious farm,

the wet fungus-grown wildwood,

The chills then contracted

that since have remained;

The scum-covered duck pond,

the pig sty close by it,

The ditch where the sour-

smelling house drainage fell,

The damp, shaded dwelling,

the foul barnyard nigh it;

But worse than all else

was that terrible well,

And the old oaken bucket,

the mold-crusted bucket,

The moss-covered bucket

that hung in the well.

 

Just think of it! Moss

on the vessel that lifted

The water I drank

in the days called to mind;

Ere I knew what professors

and scientists gifted

In the waters of wells

by analysis find;

The rotting wood fiber,

the oxide of iron,

The algae, the frog

of unusual size,

The water as clear

as the verses of Byron,

Are things I remember

with tears in my eyes.

 

Oh, had I but realized

in time to avoid them,

The dangers that lurked

in that pestilent draft;

I’d have tested for organic germs

and destroyed them

With potassic permanganate

ere I had quaffed.

Or perchance I’d have boiled it,

and afterward strained it

Through filters of charcoal

        And gravel combined;

Or, after distilling,

condensed and regained it

In potable form

with its filth left behind.

 

How little I knew

of the enteric fever

Which lurked in the water

I ventured to drink,

But since I’ve become

a devoted believer

In the teachings of science,

I shudder to think.

And now, far removed

from the scenes I’m describing,

The story of warning

to others I tell,

As memory reverts

to my youthful imbibing

And I gag at the thought

of that horrible well,

And the old oaken bucket,

the fungus-grown bucket –

In fact, the slop-bucket

that hung in the well.

 

Old Ironsides

By Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!

Long has it waved on high,

And many an eye has danced to see

That banner in the sky;

Beneath it rung the battle shout,

And burst the cannon’s roar; —

The meteor of the ocean air

Shall sweep the clouds no more.

 

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,

Where knelt the vanquished foe,

When winds were hurrying o’er the flood,

And waves were white below,

No more shall feel the victor’s tread,

Or know the conquered knee; —

The harpies of the shore shall pluck

The eagle of the sea!

 

Oh, better that her shattered hulk

Should sink beneath the wave;

Her thunders shook the mighty deep,

And there should be her grave;

Nail to the mast her holy flag,

Set every threadbare sail,

And give her to the god of storms,

The lightning and the gale!

 

Do It Now

By Berton Braley

 

If with pleasure you are viewing

any work a man is doing,

If you like him or you love him,

tell him now;

Don’t withhold your approbation

till the parson makes oration

And he lies with snowy lilies

on his brow;

No matter how you shout it

he won’t really care about it;

He won’t know how many teardrops

you have shed;

If you think some praise is due him

now’s the time to slip it to him,

For he cannot read his tombstone

when he’s dead.

 

More than fame and more than money

is the comment kind and sunny

And the hearty, warm approval

of a friend.

For it gives to life a savor,

and it makes you stronger, braver,

And it gives you heart and spirit

to the end;

If he earns your praise-bestow it;

if you like him let him know it;

Let the words

of true encouragement be said;

Do not wait till life is over

and he’s underneath the clover;

For he cannot read his tombstone

when he’s dead.

 

There is a tide in the affairs of men

By William Shakespeare

 

There is a tide in the affairs of men

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat;

And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.

 

The Swordbearer’s Burden

Adapted by Len Smith

From Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken

 

Two roads diverged in religion one day,

As more attention to the Bible I paid.

The questions I asked made preachers mad,

And their fearful reactions made me sad.

 

The denominational road was very wide,

With many grand attractions along the side,

Which allowed the people along every mile

In spite of their ignorance still to smile.

 

The Biblical road was just a trace;

Nobody would choose it to run a race!

It was lonely and thorny and full of hardship,

But the Bible said it was the way of worship.

 

My burden is to tell you why

When two very different roads diverged

that I…

I took the one less traveled by.

And with nothing but praise ages hence,

I’ll thank God for that difference.

 

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

Leisure

By William Henry Davies

 

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

 

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars like skies at night.

 

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

 

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 

A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea

By Allan Cunningham

 

A wet sheet and a flowing sea,

A wind that follows fast,

And fills the white and rustling sail,

And bends the gallant mast;

And bends the gallant mast, my boys,

While, like the eagle free,

Away the good ship flies, and leaves

Old England on the lee.

 

O for a soft and gentle wind!

I heard a fair one cry;

But give to me the snoring breeze,

And white waves heaving high;

And white waves heaving high, my boys,

The good ship tight and free –

The world of waters is our home,

And merry men are we.

 

There’s tempest in yon hornčd moon,

And lightning in yon cloud;

And hark the music, mariners!

The wind is piping loud;

The wind is piping loud, my boys,

The lightning flashing free –

While the hollow oak our palace is,

Our heritage the sea.

 

Our Own

By Margaret E. Sangster

 

If I had known, in the morning,

How wearily all the day

The words unkind would trouble my mind

That I said when you went away,

I had been more careful, darling,

Nor given you needless pain;

But we vex our own with look and tone

We might never take back again.

 

For though in the quiet evening

You may give me the kiss of peace,

Yet it well might be that never for me

The pain of the heart should cease;

How many go forth at morning

Who never come home at night,

And hearts have broken

for harsh words spoken

That sorrow can ne’er set right.

 

We have careful thought for the stranger,

And smiles for the sometime guest,

But oft for our own the bitter tone,

Though we love our own the best.

Ah, lip with the curve impatient,

Ah, brow with the shade of scorn,

Twere a cruel fate, were the night too late

To undue the work of morn!

 

I Remember, I Remember

By Thomas Hood

 

I remember, I remember

The house where I was born,

The little window where the sun

Came peeping in at morn;

He never came a wink too soon

Nor brought too long a day;

But now, I often wish the night

Had borne my breath away.

 

I remember, I remember

The roses red and white,

The violets and the lily cups –

Those flowers made of light!

The lilacs where the robin built,

And where my brother set

The laburnum on his birthday –

The tree is living yet!

 

I remember, I remember

Where I was used to swing,

And thought the air must rush as fresh

To swallows on the wing;

My spirit flew in feathers then

That is so heavy now,

The summer pools could hardly cool

The fever on my brow!

 

I remember, I remember

The fir-trees dark and high;

I used to think their slender tops

Were close against the sky:

It was a childish ignorance,

But now ‘tis little joy

To know I’m farther off from Heaven

Than when I was a boy.

 

David, My Fellow Warrior

Adapted by Len Smith

from George Sterling’s The Master Mariner

 

My comrade David left his armor behind,

And in the hot sun the giant he slew.

Here in conditioned air I find

Another novel I hope will do.

 

He killed the lions that threatened his herd

In the early morning dew.

I watch the beasts as I chomp a burger

At my nearby city zoo.

 

He expressed his faith in God in psalms,

And with instruments of music did sing.

But I was kicked out of a choir

For not being able to sing.

 

David wielded in his ample fist

The bloody sword of war,

But I am fretful that my writing wrist

My Memoirs might make sore.

 

I think my comrade now would gaze

At me with his warrior’s knowing eye,

And seeing my hands as soft as my days

He’d turn his eyes to heaven…and sigh.

 

Prayer of an Aging Warrior

Excerpted from Psalm 71

 

In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust:

For thou art my hope, O Lord God:

Thou art my trust from my youth.

Cast me not off in the time of old age;

Forsake me not when my strength faileth.

O God, thou hast taught me from my youth:

And hitherto have I declared thy wondrous

works. Now also when I am old and

gray headed, O God, Forsake me not;

until I have shewed thy strength unto

this generation, And thy power

to every one that is to come.

 

Evening Contemplation

By George Washington Doane

 

Softly now the light of day

Fades upon my sight away;

Free from care, from labor free,

Lord, I would commune with Thee.

 

Thou, whose all-pervading eye

Naught escapes, without, within!

Pardon each infirmity,

Open fault, and secret sin.

 

Soon for me the light of day

Shall for ever pass away;

Then, from sin and sorrow free,

Take me, Lord, to dwell with Thee.

 

Thou who, sinless, yet hast known

All of man’s infirmity!

Then, from Thine eternal throne,

Jesus, look with pitying eye.

A Friend’s Greeting

By Edgar Guest

 

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 out of 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 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 the 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.

 

Daffodils

By William Wordsworth

 

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

 

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed – and gazed – but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

 

When the Frost is on the Punkin

By James Whitcomb Riley

 

When the frost is on the punkin

and the fodder’s in the shock,

And you hear the kyouck and gobble

of the struttin’ turkey-cock,

And the clackin’ of the guineys,

and the cluckin’ of the hens,

And the rooster’s hallylooyer

as he tiptoes on the fence;

O, it’s then’s the times a feller

is a-feelin’ at his best,

With the risin’ sun to greet him

from a night of peaceful rest,

As he leaves the house, bareheaded,

and goes out to feed the stock,

When the frost is on the punkin

and the fodder’s in the shock.

 

They’s something kindoharty-like

about the atmusfere

When the heat of summer’s over

and the coolin’ fall is here –

Of course we miss the flowers,

and the blossums on the trees,

And the mumble of the hummin’-birds

and buzzin’ of the bees;

But the air’s so appetizin’;

and the landscape through the haze

Of a crisp and sunny morning

of the airly autumn days

Is a pictur’ that no painter

has the colorin’ to mock –

When the frost is on the punkin

and the fodder’s in the shock.

 

The husky, rusty russel

of the tossels of the corn,

And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves,

as golden as the morn;

The stubble in the furries

kindo’ lonesome-like, but still

A-preachinsermuns to us

of the barns they growed to fill;

The strawstack in the medder,

and the reaper in the shed;

The hosses in theyr stalls below –

the clover over-head!

O, it sets my hart a-clickin

like the tickin’ of a clock,

When the frost is on the punkin

and the fodder’s in the shock!

 

Then your apples all is gethered,

and the ones a feller keeps

Is poured around the celler-floor

in red and yeller heaps;

And your cider-makin’ ‘s over, and

your wimmern-folks is through

With their mince and apple-butter, and

theyr souse and saussage, too!

I don’t know how to tell it –

but ef sich a thing could be

As the angels wantinboardin’,

and they’d call around on me –

I’d want to ‘commodateem

all the whole-indurin’ flock –

When the frost is on the punkin

and the fodder’s in the shock!

 

Lucy

By William Wordsworth

 

She dwelt among the untrodden ways

Beside the springs of Dove,

A maid whom there were none to praise

And very few to love:

 

A violet by a mossy stone

Half hidden from the eye!

Fair as a star, when only one

Is shining in the sky.

 

She lived unknown, and few could know

When Lucy ceased to be;

But she is in her grave, and, Oh,

The difference to me!

 

Stopping By Woods

on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost

 

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

 

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

 

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

 

Warrior’s Dilemma

Adapted by Len Smith

from Richard Hovey’s The Sea Gypsy

 

I am fevered with the Bible,

I am fretful with the War,

For the hunger-thirst is on me

And my soul is with the Lord.

 

There’s a chariot in the whirlwind

With its unicorns breathing fire,

And my heart has gone aboard it

For the Kingdom I desire.

 

But…I must fight again tomorrow:

In this world I must pause,

To help my fellow servants

In the glory of His cause.

 

The Sea Gypsy

By Richard Hovey

 

I am fevered with the sunset,

I am fretful with the bay,

For the wander-thirst is on me

And my soul is in Cathay.

 

There’s a schooner in the offing,

With her topsails shot with fire,

And my heart has gone aboard her

For the Islands of Desire.

 

I must forth again to-morrow!

With the sunset I must be

Hull down on the trail of rapture

In the wonder of the sea.

 

Along the Road

By Robert Browning Hamilton

 

I walked a mile with Pleasure;

She chattered all the way,

But left me none the wiser

For all she had to say.

 

I walked a mile with Sorrow

And ne’er a word said she;

But oh, the things I learned from her

When Sorrow walked with me!

 

The Lamplighter

By Robert Louis Stevenson

 

My tea is nearly ready

and the sun has left the sky.

It’s time to take the window

to see Leerie going by;

For every night at teatime

and before you take your seat,

With lantern and with ladder

he comes posting up the street.

 

Now Tom would be a driver

and Maria go to sea,

And my papa’s a banker

and as rich as he can be;

But I, when I am stronger

and can choose what I’m to do,

O Leerie, I’ll go round at night

and light the lamps with you!

 

For we are very lucky,

with a lamp before the door,

And Leerie stops to light it

as he lights so many more;

And oh! before you hurry by

with ladder and with light;

O Leerie, see a little child

and nod to him tonight!

 

Don’t Quit

By anonymous

 

When things go wrong,

as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging

seems all uphill,

When the funds are low

and the debts are high,

And you want to smile,

but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing

you down a bit

Rest if you must,

but don’t you quit.

 

Life is queer

with its twists and its turns,

As everyone of us

sometimes learns,

And many a failure

turns about

When they might have won,

had they stuck it out.

Don’t give up

though the pace seems slow,

You may succeed

with another blow.

 

Often the goal

is nearer than

It seems to a faint

and faltering man,

Often the struggler

has given up

When he might have captured

the victor’s cup;

And he learned too late

when the night came down,

How close he was

to the golden crown.

 

Success is failure

turned inside out

The silver tint

of the clouds of doubt

And you never can tell

how close you are,

It may be near

when it seems so far;

So stick to the fight

when you’re hardest hit,

It’s when things seem worst

that you must not quit!

 

The Cross was His Own

By unknown

 

They borrowed a bed

to lay His head

When Christ the Lord came down;

They borrowed the ass

in the mountain pass

For Him to ride to town;

But the crown that He wore

and the cross that He bore

Were His own – the cross was His own!

 

He borrowed the bread

when the crowd He fed

On the grassy mountain side,

He borrowed the dish of broken fish

With which He satisfied.

But the crown that He wore

and the cross that He bore

Were His own – the cross was His own!

 

He borrowed the ship

in which to sit

To teach the multitudes;

He borrowed a nest in which to rest –

He had never a home so rude;

But the crown that He wore

and the cross that He bore

Were His own – the cross was His own!

 

He borrowed a room

on His way to the tomb

The passover lamb to eat:

They borrowed a cave – for Him a grave,

They borrowed a winding sheet.

But the crown that he wore

and the cross that He bore

Were his own – the cross was His own.

 

Sea Fever

By John Masefield

 

I must go down to the seas again,

to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship

and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel’s kick

and the wind’s song

and the white sails shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face,

and a grey dawn breaking.

 

I must go down to the seas again,

for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call

that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day

with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray

and the blown spume,

and the sea-gulls crying.

 

I must go down to the seas again,

to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way

where the wind’s

like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn

from a laughing fellow-rover

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream

when the long trick’s over.

 

Trees

By Joyce Kilmer

 

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

 

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

 

To Lucasta, On Going to the Wars

By Richard Lovelace

 

Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,

That from the nunnery

Of thy chaste breasts, and quiet mind,

To war and arms I fly.

 

True, a new mistress now I chase,

The first foe in the field;

And with a stronger faith embrace

A sword, a horse, a shield.

 

Yet this inconstancy is such,

As you too shall adore;

I could not love thee, Dear, so much,

Loved I not honour more.

 

Somebody’s mother

By Mary Dow Brine

 

The woman was old

and ragged and grey

And bent with the chill

of the Winter’s day.

The street was wet with a recent snow

And the woman’s feet

were aged and slow.

She stood at the crossing

and waited long,

Alone, uncared for, amid the throng

Of human beings who passed her by

Nor heeded the glance

of her anxious eyes.

 

Down the street, with laughter and shout,

Glad in the freedom of ‘school let out,’

Came the boys like a flock of sheep,

Hailing the snow piled white and deep.

Past the woman so old and grey

Hastened the children on their way.

Nor offered a helping hand to her –

So meek, so timid, afraid to stir

Lest the carriage wheels

or the horses’ feet

Should crowd her down

in the slippery street.

 

At last came one of the merry troop,

The gayest lad of all the group;

He paused beside her and whispered low,

“I’ll help you cross, if you wish to go.”

Her aged hand on his strong young arm

She placed, and so, without hurt or harm,

He guided the trembling feet along,

Proud that his own were firm and strong.

Then back again to his friends he went,

His young heart happy and well content.

“She’s somebody’s mother,

boys, you know,

For all she’s aged and poor and slow,

And I hope some fellow will lend a hand

To help my mother, you understand,

If ever she’s poor and old and grey,

And her own dear boy is far away.”

 

‘Somebody’s mother’

bowed low her head

In her home that night,

and the prayer she said

Was “God be kind to the noble boy,

Who is somebody’s son,

and pride and joy!”

 

High Flight

By John Gillespie Magee, Jr

 

Oh, I have slipped

the surly bonds of earth

And danced the skies

on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed,

and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds...

and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of...

wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence.

Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting

wind along, and flung

My eager craft

through footless halls of air.

 

Up, up the long,

delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the windswept heights

with easy grace

Where never lark,

or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent,

lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed

sanctity of space

Put out my hand,

and touched the face of God.

 

Dust of Snow

By Robert Frost

 

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

 

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.

 

Be Strong

By Maltbie Davenport Babcock

 

Be strong!

We are not here to play,

to dream, to drift;

We have hard work to do,

and loads to lift;

Shun not the struggle –

face it; ‘tis God’s gift.

 

Be strong!

Say not, “The days are evil.

Who’s to blame?”

And fold the hands and acquiesce –

oh shame!

Stand up, speak out,

and bravely, in God’s name.

 

Be strong!

It matters not

how deep entrenched the wrong,

How hard the battle goes,

the day how long;

Faint not – fight on!

To-morrow comes the song.

 

Tell Him So

By unknown

 

If you hear a kind word spoken

Of some worthy soul you know,

It may fill his heart with sunshine

If you only tell him so.

 

If a deed, however humble,

Helps you on your way to go,

Seek the one whose hand has helped you,

Seek him out and tell him so!

 

If your heart is touched and tender

Toward a person, lost and low,

It might help him to do better

If you’d only tell him so!

 

Oh, my sisters, oh, my brothers,

As o’er life’s rough path you go,

If God’s love has saved and kept you,

Do not fail to tell men so.

 

The Secret of the Sea

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Ah! What pleasant visions haunt me

As I gaze upon the sea!

All the old romantic legends,

All my dreams, come back to me.

 

In each sail that skims the horizon,
In each landward-blowing breeze,
I behold that stately galley,
Hear those mournful melodies;

Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

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