close close2 chevron-circle-left chevron-circle-right twitter bookmark4 facebook3 twitter3 pinterest3 feed4 envelope star quill

Action Poems

Table of Contents

Action

  1. Action by Kate Louise Wheeler
  2. Now's the Time by Amos Russel Wells
  3. Sun and Shadow by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  4. Hope and Effort by William Francis Barnard
  5. The Sin of Omission by Margaret E. Sangster
  6. The Quelling of the Moose by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  7. Ode by Arthur O'Shaughnessy
  8. Clinching the Bolt by Edgar A. Guest
  9. The Hustling Pumpkin Vine by Uncle Mose
  10. The Killed Deer by Hulda Fetzer
  11. Sowing by Colfax Burgoyne Harman
  12. Becalmed by Ellen P. Allerton
  13. One Step and Then Another by Anonymous

Risk

  1. Risk by Anonymous

Laziness

  1. Lazy Ned by Anonymous
  2. Doing Nothing by William Henry Dawson
  3. The Grasshopper and the Ant by Aesop

Action

  1. Action

    by Kate Louise Wheeler

    Action is the golden key
    That unlocks doors to set us free;
    Thro' which the trusting heart that sings
    Shall find it's way to better things.

  2. Now's the Time

    If you have a task to do,
    Now's the time

    – Amos Russel Wells
    Now's the Time
    by Amos Russel Wells

    If a poem you would write,
    Now's the time!
    Ne'er was epic yet or sonnet
    Captured but by leaping on it;
    Pegasus depend upon it,
    Knows his time.

    If you have a task to do,
    Now's the time!
    Now, while you've a notion to it;
    Now, while zeal will help you do it;
    Or in shame you'll hobble through it,
    Out of time.

    If you have a word of praise,
    Now's the time!
    Should the sky, while flowers are growing
    Stint its gracious dew-bestowing
    Ne'er would come the rainhow-glowing
    Blossom time.

    If you have a kiss to give,
    Now's the time!
    Lips, like flowers, soon are faded,
    Life-blood pallid, checked, and jaded,
    If they are not love-o'ershaded,
    Kissed in time.

    If you have a prayer to pray,
    Now's the time!
    Not to every hour are given
    Upward look and open heaven;
    Oh, be strengthened, gladdened, shriven,
    While there's time!

  3. Give Them the Flowers Now

    by Leigh M. Hodges

    Closed eyes can't see the white roses,
    Cold hands can't hold them, you know;
    Breath that is stilled cannot gather
    The odors that sweet from them blow.
    Death, with a peace beyond dreaming,
    Its children of earth doth endow;
    Life is the time we can help them,
    So give them the flowers now!

    Here are the struggles and striving,
    Here are the cares and the tears;
    Now is the time to be smoothing
    The frowns and the furrows and fears.
    What to closed eyes are kind sayings?
    What to hushed heart is deep vow?
    Naught can avail after parting,
    So give them the flowers now!

    Just a kind word or a greeting;
    Just a warm grasp or a smile—
    These are the flowers that will lighten
    The burdens for many a mile.
    After the journey is over
    What is the use of them; how
    Can they carry them who must be carried?
    Oh, give them the flowers now!

    Blooms from the happy heart's garden,
    Plucked in the spirit of love;
    Blooms that are earthly reflections
    Of flowers that blossom above.
    Words cannot tell what a measure
    Of blessing such gifts will allow
    To dwell in the lives of many,
    So give them the flowers now!

  4. Sun and Shadow

    Yet true to our course, though the shadows grow dark,
    We'll trim our broad sail as before,
    And stand by the rudder that governs the bark,
    Nor ask how we look from the shore!

    – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
    Sun and Shadow
    by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

    As I look from the isle, o'er its billows of green,
    To the billows of foam-crested blue,
    Yon bark, that afar in the distance is seen,
    Half dreaming, my eyes will pursue:
    Now dark in the shadow, she scatters the spray
    As the chaff in the stroke of the flail;
    Now white as the sea-gull, she flies on her way,
    The sun gleaming bright on her sail.

    Yet her pilot is thinking of dangers to shun,—
    Of breakers that whiten and roar;
    How little he cares, if in shadow or sun
    They see him who gaze from the shore!
    He looks to the beacon that looms from the reef,
    To the rock that is under his lee,
    As he drifts on the blast, like a wind-wafted leaf,
    O'er the gulfs of the desolate sea.

    Thus drifting afar to the dim-vaulted caves
    Where life and its ventures are laid,
    The dreamers who gaze while we battle the waves
    May see us in sunshine or shade;
    Yet true to our course, though the shadows grow dark,
    We'll trim our broad sail as before,
    And stand by the rudder that governs the bark,
    Nor ask how we look from the shore!

  5. Hope and Effort

    Wait not for destiny, wait not at all,
    Nor sink in hesitation's deep morass:
    Sound thou to all thy powers a trumpet call,
    And staff in hand strive up the mountain pass.

    – William Francis Barnard
    Hope and Effort
    by William Francis Barnard

    Hope is of the valley; effort stands
    Upon the mountain-top, facing the sun.
    Hope dreams of dreams made true, and great deeds done;
    Effort goes forth with toiling feet and hands
    To attain the far off sky-touched table lands
    Of great desire; and till the end is won
    Looks not below, where the long strife, begun
    In pleasant fields, met torrents, rocks, and sands.

    Hope; but when hope bids look within her glass,
    And shows the wondrous things which may befall,
    Wait not for destiny, wait not at all,
    Nor sink in hesitation's deep morass:
    Sound thou to all thy powers a trumpet call,
    And staff in hand strive up the mountain pass.

  6. The Sin of Omission

    The tender word forgotten;
    The letter you did not write;
    The flowers you did not send, dear,
    Are your haunting ghosts at night.

    – Margaret E. Sangster
    The Sin of Omission
    by Margaret E. Sangster

    It isn't the thing you do, dear,
    It's the thing you leave undone
    That gives you a bit of a heartache
    At the setting of the sun.
    The tender word forgotten;
    The letter you did not write;
    The flowers you did not send, dear,
    Are your haunting ghosts at night.

    The stone you might have lifted
    Out of a brother's way;
    The bit of hearthstone counsel
    You were hurried too much to say;
    The loving touch of the hand, dear,
    The gentle, winning tone
    Which you had no time nor thought for
    With troubles enough of your own.

    Those little acts of kindness
    So easily out of mind,
    Those chances to be angels
    Which we poor mortals find—
    They come in night and silence,
    Each sad, reproachful wraith,
    When hope is faint and flagging
    And a chill has fallen on faith.

    For life is all too short, dear,
    And sorrow is all too great,
    To suffer our slow compassion
    That tarries until too late;
    And it isn't the thing you do, dear,
    It's the thing you leave undone
    Which gives you a bit of a heartache
    At the setting of the sun.

  7. The Quelling of the Moose

    He ceased; and a voice said, "Understand
    How huge a peril will shrink like sand,
    When stayed by a prompt and steady hand!"

    – Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
    The Quelling of the Moose
    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts. A Melicete Legend.

    When tent was pitched, and supper done,
    And forgotten were paddle, and rod, and gun,
    And the low, bright planets, one by one,

    Lit in the pine-tops their lamps of gold
    To us by the fire, in our blankets rolled,
    This was the story Sacòbi told—

    "In those days came the moose from the east,
    A monster out of the white north-east,
    And as leaves before him were man and beast.

    "The dark rock-hills of Saguenay
    Are strong,—they were but straw in his way.
    He leapt the St. Lawrence as in play.

    "His breath was a storm and a flame; his feet
    In the mountains thundered, fierce and fleet,
    Till men's hearts were as milk, and ceased to beat.

    "But in those days dwelt Clote Scarp with men.
    It is long to wait till he comes again,—
    But a Friend was near and could hear us, then!

    "In his wigwam, built by the Oolastook,
    Where the ash-trees over the water look,
    A voice of trouble the stillness shook.

    "He rose, and took his bow from the wall,
    And listened; he heard his people's call
    Pierce up from the villages one and all.

    "From village to village he passed with cheer;
    And the people followed; but when drew near
    The stride of the moose, they fled in fear.

    "Like smoke in a wind they fled at the last
    But he in a pass of the hills stood fast,
    And down at his feet his bow he cast.

    "That terrible forehead, maned with flame,
    He smote with his open hand,—and tame
    As a dog the raging beast became.

    "He smote with his open hand; and lo!
    As shrinks in the rains of spring the snow,
    So shrank the monster beneath that blow,

    "Till scarce the bulk of a bull he stood.
    And Clote Scarp led him down to the wood,
    And gave him the tender shoots for food."

    He ceased; and a voice said, "Understand
    How huge a peril will shrink like sand,
    When stayed by a prompt and steady hand!"

  8. Risk

  9. Risk

    by Anonymous

    To laugh, is to risk appearing the fool.
    To weep, is to risk being called sentimental.
    To reach out to another, is to risk involvement.
    To expose feelings, is to risk showing your true self.
    To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd, is to risk being called naive.
    To love, is to risk not being loved in return.

    To live, is to risk dying.
    To hope, is to risk despair.
    And to try, is to risk failure.
    But risks must be taken, because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing.
    The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing!
    He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply can not learn, and feel, and change,
    and grow, and love, and live.
    Chained by his certitudes he is a slave, he's forfeited his freedom.
    Only the person who risks is truly free!

  10. Laziness

  11. Lazy Ned

    Thus, he would never take the pains
    To seek the prize that labor gains,

    – Anonymous
    Lazy Ned
    by Anonymous

    "'T is royal fun," cried lazy Ned,
    "To coast, upon my fine, new sled,
    And beat the other boys;
    But then, I can not bear to climb
    The tiresome hill, for every time
    It more and more annoys."

    So, while his schoolmates glided by,
    And gladly tugged uphill, to try
    Another merry race,
    Too indolent to share their plays,
    Ned was compelled to stand and gaze,
    While shivering in his place.

    Thus, he would never take the pains
    To seek the prize that labor gains,
    Until the time had passed;
    For, all his life, he dreaded still
    The silly bugbear of uphill,
    And died a dunce at last.

  12. Doing Nothing

    by William Henry Dawson

    The hardest job I've ever tried,
    In summer, winter, spring or fall,
    Whether alone or by the side
    Of helpers—matters not at all—
    Is doing nothing.

    Just think of having not a thing
    On earth to busy hand or brain.
    I know not of a sharper sting,
    Nor one 'twould give me keener pain
    Than doing nothing.

    Just eat and sleep and mope around;
    No good deed done, no kind word said,
    No darkened corner sought or found,
    Where sunshine might with ease be shed—
    Just doing nothing.

    Kind Fate, spare me from such a lot.
    I'd sooner, far, be numbered with
    The silent sleepers in some spot
    Where naught is known of kin or kith,
    Than doing nothing.

  13. Ode

    by Arthur O'Shaughnessy

    We are the music-makers,
    And we are the dreamers of dreams,
    Wandering by lone sea-breakers
    And sitting by desolate streams;
    World losers and world forsakers,
    On whom the pale moon gleams:
    Yet we are the movers and shakers
    Of the world for ever, it seems.

    With wonderful deathless ditties
    We build up the world’s great cities.
    And out of a fabulous story
    We fashion an empire’s glory:
    One man with a dream, at pleasure,
    Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
    And three with a new song’s measure
    Can trample an empire down.

    We, in the ages lying
    In the buried past of the earth,
    Built Nineveh with our sighing,
    And Babel itself with our mirth;
    And o’erthrew them with prophesying
    To the old of the new world’s worth;
    For each age is a dream that is dying,
    Or one that is coming to birth.

  14. Clinching the Bolt

    by Edgar A. Guest

    It needed just an extra turn to make the bolt secure,
    A few more minutes on the job and then the work was sure;
    But he begrudged the extra turn, and when the task was through,
    The man was back for more repairs in just a day or two.

    Two men there are in every place, and one is only fair,
    The other gives the extra turn to every bolt that's there;
    One man is slip-shod in his work and eager to be quit,
    The other never leaves a task until he's sure of it.

    The difference 'twixt good and bad is not so very much,
    A few more minutes at the task, an extra turn or touch,
    A final test that all is right—and yet the men are few
    Who seem to think it worth their while these extra things to do.

    The poor man knows as well as does the good man how to work,
    But one takes pride in every task, the other likes to shirk;
    With just as little as he can, one seeks his pay to earn,
    The good man always gives the bolt that clinching, extra turn.

  15. The Hustling Pumpkin Vine

    by Uncle Mose

    Say boy, don't go a mopin' 'round 'n' talkin' in a whine,
    But go out in the field and view the hustling pumpkin vine.
    It has the kind o' stuff in it that's needed, boy, in you,
    A kind o' get there quality thet most folks say will do.

    The weeds may grow around it but the pumpkin vine don't stop,
    It shows it's there fer business an' it climbs right out on top.
    An' if it strikes a big stone fence or ditch that may be wide,
    It jes' lines out 'n strings the pumpkins on the other side.

    So boy, don't let the weeds or ditches drive you from your way,
    But go ahead and get on top—do something every day.
    An' if things look discouraging, don't ever mope or whine,
    But go and learn a lesson from the hustling pumpkin vine.

  16. The Killed Deer

    by Hulda Fetzer

    The deer in a woods a-bounding went;
    The hunter a bullet quickly spent;
    The deer fell dead,
    And the hunter said,
    "That bullet went straight as it was meant."

    There's a lot in this if you'll think it o'er,
    And the more you think it, the more and more;
    Had the bullet missed,
    And behind it hissed,
    The deer would be bounding as before.

  17. Sowing

    by Colfax Burgoyne Harman

    The swain who sows,
    When cold wind blows,
    May gather golden grain;
    But who delays,
    Till summer days,
    His sowing reaps in vain.

  18. Becalmed

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Adrift in my little boat,
    Becalmed on the cold, gray sea—
    And chill mists lazily float
    All over my boat and me.

    The breezes lie dead asleep—
    Not a breath in the idle sails!
    And I wearily watch and weep,
    And listen for distant gales.

    Shall I still drop useless tears,
    And sit here and wait and wait,
    Till my head grows gray with years,
    For the wind that may come too late?

    To be idle is shame to the strong!
    I will lay my hand to the oar;
    And the craft that has waited long,
    Shall wait for the wind no more!

  19. One Step and Then Another

    by Anonymous

    One step and then another,
    And the longest walk is ended;
    One stitch and then another,
    And the largest rent is mended.

    One brick upon another,
    And the highest wall is made;
    One flake upon another,
    And the deepest snow is laid.

  20. The Grasshopper and the Ant

    by Aesop

    A grasshopper having sung
    The summer long,
    When the wintry wind blew
    Found her comforts few—
    No house from the snow and sleet
    To guard her
    Not a single bit to eat
    In her larder.
    Neither worm-chop nor fly-leg;
    The dainty dame must starve or beg.
    Hungry, she goes to her neighbor ant
    With her sad tale of want:
    “Pray lend me from your store,
    Till the winter is o’er:
    On my faith, I will pay
    Round interest, besides the loan.”

    The ant—bad lender, I must own—
    Doubting much of the pay day,
    Asks of the borrowing lady,
    “What did you do last summer?”

    “Night and day to every comer
    I sang, if you please.”

    “Sang!—do you say?
    Then finish out your play—
    Dance now at your ease.

    There’s a time for work and a time for play.


Related Poems