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Poems About Life Lessons

Table of Contents

  1. Experience by Emily Dickinson
  2. A Life Lesson by James Whitcomb Riley
  3. My Wage by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse
  4. Spinning Tow by Ellen P. Allerton
  5. Churning by Marcella Melville Hall Hines
  6. Life's Lesson by Bernhardt Paul Holst
  7. Life Sculpture by George Washington Doane
  8. Wolsey's Farewell to his Greatness by John Fletcher
  9. Perseverance by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  10. Upon the Sand by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  11. A Parable by Mathilde Blind
  12. His Other Chance by Edgar A. Guest
  13. Seed Thoughts by Kate Louise Wheeler
  14. The Hustling Pumpkin Vine by Uncle Mose
  15. The Cow and The Pig and The Hen by A. H. Upham
  16. The Calf-Path by Sam Walter Foss
  17. The Three Frogs by George W. Swarthout
  18. Our Blessings by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  19. Weaving by Florence May Alt
  20. Love's Lesson by Jean Blewett
  21. The Dropped Stitch by Albina Brockway Letts
  22. What the Sparrows Taught by Albina Brockway Letts
  23. The Shoeing Forge by J. R. Eastwood
  24. To a Waterfowl by William Cullen Bryant
  25. Life by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  26. Life's Scars by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  27. Up-hill by Christina Rossetti
  28. Prudence True's Crazy Quilt by Sam Walter Foss
  29. Land On Your Feet by Sam Walter Foss
  30. Patient with the Living by Margaret E. Sangster
  31. Upon the Sand by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  32. The Smith by John Henton Carter
  33. The Wisdom of Reserve by Peter Burn
  34. Freely Receive, Freely Give by Peter Burn
  35. Complain Not by Peter Burn
  36. Nature's Parables by Peter Burn
  37. At School by John Boyle O'Reilly
  38. As You Go Through Life by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think you've been buried, but you've actually been planted.

– Christine Caine
  1. Experience

    by Emily Dickinson

    I stepped from plank to plank
    So slow and cautiously;
    The stars about my head I felt,
    About my feet the sea.

    I knew not but the next
    Would be my final inch, —
    This gave me that precarious gait
    Some call experience.

  2. A Life Lesson

    by James Whitcomb Riley

    There! little girl; don't cry!
    They have broken your doll, I know;
    And your tea-set blue,
    And your play-house, too,
    Are things of the long ago;
    But childish troubles will soon pass by. —
    There! little girl; don't cry!

    There! little girl; don't cry!
    They have broken your slate, I know;
    And the glad, wild ways
    Of your schoolgirl days
    Are things of the long ago;
    But life and love will soon come by. —
    There! little girl; don't cry!

    There! little girl; don't cry!
    They have broken your heart I know;
    And the rainbow gleams
    Of your youthful dreams
    Are things of the long ago;
    But Heaven holds all for which you sigh. —
    There! little girl; don't cry!

  3. My Wage

    by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse

    I bargained with Life for a penny,
    And Life would pay no more,
    However I begged at evening
    When I counted my scanty store;

    For Life is a just employer,
    He gives you what you ask,
    But once you have set the wages,
    Why, you must bear the task.

    I worked for a menial's hire,
    Only to learn, dismayed,
    That any wage I had asked of Life,
    Life would have paid.

  4. Spinning Tow

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    A little maiden with braided hair
    Walks to and fro
    Before a wheel. What does she there?
    The child is spinning tow.

    In through the open window comes
    The scented breeze;
    With drowsy wing the wild bee hums
    Out in the orchard trees.

    The blue sky bends, the flowers are sweet,
    As children know;
    Yet with deft hands and steady feet,
    This child keeps spinning tow,

    Still works she; steady mounts the sun
    Through the skies of May,—
    The small task ends; the skein is spun;
    The girl bounds out to play.

    She learns life's lesson young you say?
    'Tis better so.
    That life is toil as well as play,
    She learns here spinning tow.

    Years pass. Beside her own hearthstone
    A woman stands
    With steady eye and cheerful tone,
    Brave heart and willing hands.

    This matron, who on household ways
    Glides to and fro,
    Learned when a child, on soft spring days,
    Life's lesson, spinning tow.

  5. Churning

    by Marcella Melville Hall Hines

    And What Bridget Thought About It.

    As into the churn fast falleth the cream
    Every drop quite alike doth seem,
    And never, amid such a general splutter,
    Can I tell for the life of me which is the butter.
    So I fasten the cover, and lift the dash,
    And smile as I list to the sullen splash
    With each downward sweep of that merciless lash—
    While the cream, all defenseless, leaps madly away
    From the rough, cruel blows that unceasingly play!
    But there's no escape, though it rise to the top
    Or down to the bottom despairingly drop;
    For a ready tormentor is on its track,
    And sooner or later, will bring it back.
    Till, tired of retreating, the mass will abide
    No more of such warfare, all on one side;
    And angrily mutters, in whisperings low,
    "No more of such peltings will I undergo
    Submissively, tamely—the future shall tell
    If blows I must take, I can give them as well;
    Let them strike if they choose, they'll recoil from the fun,
    For the soft, silly buttermilk only will run."
    Enough, quite enough, take the dasher away—
    What was cream in the morning is butter to-day.

    Just so with the world, mused I in my turn,
    As I took the rich butter up out of the churn,
    My soft cream thus changed to so solid a ball
    A strong hand was needed to mould it at all,—
    Just so with the world, small odds can be scanned,
    While the skies are unclouded, the breezes are bland
    Like a huge jar of cream, till there comes an hour
    Of commotion, fierce trial with testing power!
    And then, even then the resemblance holds true,
    For the world has its butter and buttermilk, too,
    As all cream is not butter, so in the world's plan—
    The moral is plain, if but rightly you scann:
    Society's buttermilk ne'er makes a man!

  6. Life's Lesson

    by Bernhardt Paul Holst

    While yet a child, on ocean's shore,
    I gazed across the restless sea;
    I heard the music of its roar
    And wondered what it meant to me.

    In those sweet years I longed to sail
    'Mid treasures rare of ages' lore;
    I set my canvas to the gale
    And steered my vessel far from shore.

    With joy I sailed the summer sea
    While skies were bright and winds were fair,
    But storms soon disappointed me
    And drove my vessel here and there.

    And when arose the tempest wild,
    It tossed my ship on billows wide.
    It swept me back where as a child
    For joy and pleasure I had sighed.

    Ah! well, if we could only know
    In early years, so sweet and kind,
    What joy and pleasure from us flow
    As we leave childhood years behind.

  7. Life Sculpture

    by George Washington Doane

    Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy
    With his marble block before him,
    And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,
    As an angel-dream passed o’er him.

    He carved the dream on that shapeless stone,
    With many a sharp incision;
    With heaven’s own flight the sculpture shone,—
    He’d caught that angel-vision.

    Children of life are we, as we stand
    With our lives uncarved before us,
    Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
    Our life-dream shall pass o’er us.

    If we carve it then on the yielding stone,
    With many a sharp incision,
    Its heavenly beauty shall be our own,—
    Our lives, that angel-vision.

    Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

    – Isaiah 64:8
    The Bible, NIV
  8. Wolsey's Farewell to his Greatness

    by John Fletcher

    Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness!
    This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
    The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms,
    And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
    The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
    And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
    His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,

    And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured,
    Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
    This many summers in a sea of glory,
    But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride
    At length broke under me and now has left me,
    Weary and old with service, to the mercy
    Of a rude stream, that must forever hide me.
    Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye:
    I feel my heart new opened. O, how wretched
    Is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favours!
    There is betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
    That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
    More pangs and fears than wars or women have:
    And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
    Never to hope again.

  9. Perseverance

    by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    We must not hope to be mowers,
    And to gather the ripe gold ears,
    Unless we have first been sowers
    And watered the furrows with tears.

    It is not just as we take it,
    This mystical world of ours,
    Life's field will yield as we make it
    A harvest of thorns or of flowers.

    Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

    – 2 Corinthians 9:6
    The Bible, NIV

  10. Upon the Sand

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    All love that has not friendship for its base,
    Is like a mansion built upon the sand.
    Though brave its walls as any in the land,
    And its tall turrets lift their heads in grace;
    Though skilful and accomplished artists trace
    Most beautiful designs on every hand,
    And gleaming statues in dim niches stand,
    And fountains play in some flow'r-hidden place:

    Yet, when from the frowning east a sudden gust
    Of adverse fate is blown, or sad rains fall
    Day in, day out, against its yielding wall,
    Lo! the fair structure crumbles to the dust.
    Love, to endure life's sorrow and earth's woe,
    Needs friendship's solid masonwork below.

  11. A Parable

    by Mathilde Blind

    Between the sandhills and the sea
    A narrow strip of silver sand,
    Whereon a little maid doth stand,
    Who picks up shells continually,
    Between the sandhills and the sea.

    Far as her wondering eyes can reach,
    A vastness heaving gray in gray
    To the frayed edges of the day
    Furls his red standard on the breach
    Between the sky-line and the beach.

    The waters of the flowing tide
    Cast up the sea-pink shells and weed;
    She toys with shells, and doth not heed
    The ocean, which on every side
    Is closing round her vast and wide.

    It creeps her way as if in play,
    Pink shells at her pink feet to cast;
    But now the wild waves hold her fast,
    And bear her off and melt away,
    A vastness heaving gray in gray.

  12. His Other Chance

    by Edgar A. Guest

    He was down and out, and his pluck was gone,
    And he said to me in a gloomy way:
    "I've wasted my chances, one by one,
    And I'm just no good, as the people say.
    Nothing ahead, and my dreams all dust,
    Though once there was something I might have been,
    But I wasn't game, and I broke my trust,
    And I wasn't straight and I wasn't clean."

    "You're pretty low down," says I to him,
    "But nobody's holding you there, my friend.
    Life is a stream where men sink or swim,
    And the drifters come to a sorry end;
    But there's two of you living and breathing still—
    The fellow you are, and he's tough to see,
    And another chap, if you've got the will,
    The man that you still have a chance to be."

    He laughed with scorn. "Is there two of me?
    I thought I'd murdered the other one.
    I once knew a chap that I hoped to be,
    And he was decent, but now he's gone."
    "Well," says I, "it may seem to you
    That life has little of joy in store,
    But there's always something you still can do,
    And there's never a man but can try once more.

  13. School

    by Kate Louise Wheeler

    Life is a school for all man-kind,
    Where daily lessons are assigned
    And each may do his best;
    God is the Master who will teach
    The truths that lie within our reach
    And leave to us the rest.

    Each has his proper place at start
    And each can learn his little part
    If earnestly he tries;
    Altho' his standard may be low,
    He surely to the head will go
    Who on himself relies.

    Each has a chance among the rest
    To do his worst or do his best
    And his must be the choice,-
    Either to break the golden rule
    And cause confusion in life's school,
    Or heed the· Master's voice.

    The discipline is not severe,
    Altho' the Master we should fear
    To keep us from a wrong;
    There is no need to sigh and fret,
    · Or to despair, with lashes wet,
    Because our task seems long.

    The lessons that so oft' we spurn
    We know that some time We must learn,
    Then why should we delay?
    He stays behind who is the dunce,
    The wisest does his task at once
    And goes upon his way.

    The Master's sympathy prevails
    With him who tries altho' he fails,
    For He will help not chide;
    When rest and honors have been won
    He hears the Master say: "Well done,"
    And he is satisfied.

  14. 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.

  15. The Cow and The Pig and The Hen

    by A. H. Upham

    The farmer smiled as he passed them by—
    The cow and the pig and the hen;
    For the price of wheat had gone sky-high,
    And the cow and the pig and the hen
    They ate up grain he could sell at the mill,
    They needed his care when nights were chill,
    He swore of them all he'd had his fill—
    The cow and the pig and the hen.

    These barnyard cattle had had their day,
    The cow and the pig and the hen.
    He could get thirty bones for a ton of hay—
    No need for the cow or the hen.
    He never would milk another cow,
    He hated the sight of a grunting sow,
    And raising chickens was work for the frau,
    Good-bye to the cow and the hen.

    They gave no heed to his jeer or frown,
    The cow and the pig and the hen,
    Whatever goes up, said they, comes down,
    The wise old cow and the hen.
    The hen laid eggs the winter thru,
    The cow gave milk and the piggy grew,
    But hay dropped down from thirty to two—
    Oh, the cow and the pig and the hen!

    Now he sits and sighs, as he counts the cost,
    For the cow and the pig and the hen.
    He almost cries for the milk he's lost,
    The cow and the pig and the hen.
    He'd tend them gladly in mud and rain,
    And scrap his acres of hay and grain,
    If he only could buy them back again,
    The cow and the pig and the hen.

  16. The Calf-Path

    by Sam Walter Foss


    One day through the primeval wood
    A calf walked home as good calves should;

    But made a trail all bent askew,
    A crooked trail as all calves do.

    Since then three hundred years have fled,
    And I infer the calf is dead.


    But still he left behind his trail,
    And thereby hangs my moral tale.

    The trail was taken up next day
    By a lone dog that passed that way;

    And then a wise bell-wether sheep
    Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep,

    And drew the flock behind him, too,
    As good bell-wethers always do.

    And from that day, o'er hill and glade,
    Through those old woods a path was made.


    And many men wound in and out,
    And dodged and turned and bent about,

    And uttered words of righteous wrath
    Because 'twas such a crooked path;

    But still they followed—do not laugh—
    The first migrations of that calf,

    And through this winding wood-way stalked
    Because he wobbled when he walked.


    This forest path became a lane,
    That bent and turned and turned again;

    This crooked lane became a road,
    Where many a poor horse with his load

    Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
    And travelled some three miles in one.

    And thus a century and a half
    They trod the footsteps of that calf.


    The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
    The road became a village street;

    And this, before men were aware,
    A city's crowded thoroughfare.

    And soon the central street was this
    Of a renowned metropolis;

    And men two centuries and a half
    Trod in the footsteps of that calf.


    Each day a hundred thousand rout
    Followed this zigzag calf about

    And o'er his crooked journey went
    The traffic of a continent.

    A hundred thousand men were led
    By one calf near three centuries dead.

    They followed still his crooked way,
    And lost one hundred years a day;

    For thus such reverence is lent
    To well-established precedent.


    A moral lesson this might teach
    Were I ordained and called to preach;

    For men are prone to go it blind
    Along the calf-paths of the mind,

    And work away from sun to sun
    To do what other men have done.

    They follow in the beaten track,
    And out and in, and forth and back,

    And still their devious course pursue,
    To keep the path that others do.

    They keep the path a sacred groove,
    Along which all their lives they move;

    But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
    Who saw the first primeval calf.

    Ah, many things this tale might teach—
    But I am not ordained to preach.

  17. The Three Frogs

    by George W. Swarthout

    Three frogs, one time, lived in a pond,
    Which thought themselves quite wise;
    They wore green coats and vests of white;
    Each blinked two shiny eyes.
    They sat upon a mossy log
    Down in a damp, cool place,
    And gave a concert free to all,
    Of tenor, alto and the bass.

    A sly old turtle chanced that way—
    He heard the singing gay;
    And now, said he, I'll have a meal
    Before the close of day.
    This turtle he was fond of frogs—
    Ah, very fond was he;
    And these three frogs were sleek and fat
    As he could wish to see.

    Said one frog, "Listen to my voice
    With every note complete;
    I think you fellows must agree
    That none sing half so sweet."
    "Oh, fie!" the other two frogs said,
    "How foolish you must be;
    Your voice is harsh—you can not sing
    One half so sweet as we."

    The singing ceased and in dispute
    Each frowned upon the rest;
    For each was very sure, you know,
    That he could sing the best.
    And each had told the other,
    In frog language, that he lied,
    When the turtle showed his old brown nose
    And said: "I will decide."

    "But I am very deaf, my friends
    You needs must come quite near,
    You know I cannot well mistake
    When I can plainly hear."
    And so they all sat very near,
    And sang with all their might;
    The turtle laughed; he never saw,
    Three frogs in such a plight.

    "A little nearer, if you please,
    Then I shall hear each note,
    And know which soft sweet strains
    Are uttered by each throat."
    Just then old turtle made a grab
    And caught those foolish frogs,
    And swam away with all his might
    Among the weeds and bogs.

    Some foolish men, like these three frogs,
    Invent some strange dispute,
    And call a lawyer on each side
    To carry on the suit;
    But soon, alas! when all too late,
    They plainly see and feel
    That while they lost their dinners,
    The lawyers made a meal.

  18. The Country Schoolhouse

    by Edwin L. Sabin

    The little country schoolhouse—you
    Remember it; of course you do!
    Within the angle snugly set,
    Where two long yellow highways met,
    And saplings planted here and there
    About the yard, and boxed with care
    As if to typify, in turn,
    The youngsters caught and caged, to learn.

    Around, the rolling pastures spread,
    With woodland patches garlanded,
    From which the breezes gladly bore
    Sly invitations to the door.
    Across the sills the bees' soft hum
    Was mingled with the muttered sum,
    And from their covert in the vale
    In plaintive pleading piped the quail.

    With basket and with pail equipped,
    Clear-eyed, tan-cheeked and berry-lipped,
    Athwart the pastures, down the road,
    They trudged to learning's poor abode;
    The pink sunbonnet, broad-brimmed straw;
    The bare brown feet that knew no law
    Of fashion's last; the bundled forms
    That laughed aloud at cold and storms.

    What tales the scarred desks might relate
    Of triumphs gained with book and slate!
    What lore the clapboards loose possess
    Of feats at noontime and recess!
    And doomed how oft the panes to see,
    Back up the road, and o'er the lea,
    Haste boy and girl, new worlds to find,
    The little schoolhouse left behind.

    O little country school! In vain
    May critics hold you in disdain.
    The greatest lessons that you taught
    Were not by chalk and pencil wrought.
    As oped your door on fields and sky,
    So, likewise just as wide and high,
    You opened to the eyes of youth
    The principles of love and truth.

  19. Our Blessings

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Sitting to-day in the sunshine,
    That touched me with fingers of love,
    I thought of the manifold blessings
    God scatters on earth, from above;
    And they seemed, as I numbered them over,
    Far more than we merit, or need,
    And all that we lack is the angels
    To make earth a heaven indeed.

    The winter brings long, pleasant evenings,
    The spring brings a promise of flowers
    That summer breathes into fruition,
    And autumn brings glad, golden hours.
    The woodlands re-echo with music,
    The moonbeams ensilver the sea;
    There is sunlight and beauty about us,
    And the world is as fair as can be.

    But mortals are always complaining.
    Each one thinks his own a sad lot;
    And forgetting the good things about him,
    Goes mourning for those he has not.
    Instead of the star-spangled heavens,
    We look on the dust at our feet;
    We drain out the cup that is bitter,
    Forgetting the one that is sweet.

    We mourn o'er the thorn in the flower,
    Forgetting its odor and bloom;
    We pass by a garden of blossoms,
    To weep o'er the dust of the tomb.
    There are blessings unnumbered about us,—
    Like the leaves of the forest they grow;
    And the fault is our own—not the Giver's—
    That we have not an Eden below.

  20. Weaving

    by Florence May Alt

    My life is but a weaving
    Between my God and me;
    I may but choose the colors—
    He worketh steadily.
    Full oft he weaveth sorrow;
    And I in foolish pride,
    Forget he sees the upper,
    And I the under side!

    I choose my strands all golden,
    And watch for woven stars;
    I murmur when the pattern
    Is set in blurs and mars.
    I cannot yet remember
    Whose hands the shuttles guide;
    And that my stars are shining
    Upon the upper side.

    I choose my thread all crimson,
    And wait for flowers to bloom,
    For warp and woof to blossom
    Upon that mighty loom.
    Full oft I seek them vainly,
    And fret for them denied—
    Though flowering wreaths and garlands,
    May deck the upper side.

    My life is but a weaving
    Between my God and me;
    I see the seams, the tangles—
    The fair design sees He.
    Then let me wait in patience
    And blindness; satisfied
    To make the pattern lovely
    Upon the upper side.

  21. Love's Lesson

    by Jean Blewett

    One lesson let us bear in mind—
    Be very gentle with our own,
    Be to their faults a little blind,
    Nor wound them by a look or tone.

    Put self behind! turn tender eyes;
    Keep back the words that hurt and sting;
    We learn, when sorrow makes us wise,
    Forbearance is the grandest thing.

    Be patient lest some day we turn
    Our eyes on loved one fast asleep,
    And whisper, as we lean and yearn,
    "How often I have made you weep!

    "Some loved you not and words let fall
    That must have pierced your gentle breast,
    But I, who loved you best of all,
    Hurt you far more than all the rest."

    One lesson let us keep in mind—
    To hold our dear ones close and fast,
    Since loyal hearts are hard to find,
    And life and love so soon are past.

  22. The Dropped Stitch

    by Albina Brockway Letts

    Just a stitch dropped from the needles,
    But it ran adown the seam;
    And when I tried to pick it up
    And the little slip redeem,
    It raveled back like a thing bewitched,
    'Neath my eager eye and hand,
    And when I caught the run-away
    I split the threefold strand.

    And when I slowly, stitch by stitch,
    Took out my work to the flaw
    And patiently knit it up again,
    That thread vrould twist and draw;
    And the poor, frayed stitch now sadly marred
    The web fine and firm before;
    It was rough and worn 'neath my clumsy hand,
    And never was perfect more.

    Just a stitch set wrong in the shaping,
    When thought was on the wing;
    And the shape grew 'neath my careless eye
    Into an uncouth thing.
    A flaw in the fabric smooth and fine,
    Just a stitch or two awry,
    And you never agam can make the web
    Quite perfect, if you try.

    "It is like an error in life," I cried;
    "One step from the narrow way,
    A moment's turning away from the right,
    And the feet are far astray.
    A heedless act in the dawn of life
    May lead to an endless wrong,
    And follies and sin will a blemish leave
    On life's fabric, fair and strong."

    And tears and repentance cannot undo
    The faults and wrongs of the past.
    A flaw in the work, or sin in the life
    Will leave their mark to the last.
    There is grace to bear life's failures,
    And mercy for the lost,
    But a slip of the feet is oft redeemed
    At a weary, bitter cost.

    O, careless one! with the dancing feet,
    And the merry bubbling laugh,
    Walk warily now, lest in days to come
    Some bitter cup you quaff.
    Though the Christ of the cross can pardon sin,
    And man forget and forgive,
    In the depths of your own sad heart, a wrong,
    Will always rankle and live.

  23. What the Sparrows Taught

    by Albina Brockway Letts

    The sky was leaden, the wind sighed low,
    And my heart was bowed with care,
    No peace, and no light my feet to guide,
    And none my grief could share.
    For the sorrow was one I must hide in my heart,
    Lest the world should hear its moan,
    And the heavens were as brass to my beating prayers,
    And how could my days go on?

    A shower of shadows across the pane,
    A sound as of whirring wings,
    And the snow was flecked with tiny birds.
    Little twittering, chirping things!
    The sparrows! Did the loving Father cast them forth
    Fresh formed, from His tender hand,
    A sweet rebuke for the blind unbelief,
    That forgets His word must stand?

    That He sayeth: If I take such loving heed
    Of a little worthless waif,
    Shall I not care for your sorer need?
    Oh, Ye of such little faith!
    The sun did not shine or the sorrow flee,
    But sweet peace on my spirit fell;
    He cares for the sparrows, for mine and for me,
    He careth, and all is well.

  24. The Shoeing Forge

    by J. R. Eastwood

    A Stone's throw from the market town,
    Close on the lane that wanders down
    Between tall trees and hedgerows green,
    The famous shoeing forge is seen;
    Open it stands upon the road,
    That day and night is overflowed
    By ruddy light that leaps and falls
    Along the rafters and the walls.

    And often, halting on his way,
    The idler from the town will stay
    To hear the sharp, clear, ringing sound,
    And watch the red sparks raining round,
    And the bright fiery metal glow,
    While the strong smith, with blow on blow,
    Hammers it into shape—a sight
    To rouse his wonder and delight.

    Now in the smouldering fire once more
    The bar is thrust; the bellows roar,
    And fan the flame to fiercer light,
    Until the metal waxes white;
    Then, on the anvil placed again,
    Ding-dong, the strokes descend amain;
    Strong is the arm, the vision true,
    Of him who shapes the iron shoe.

    For thee, O reader, is the thought
    That great success in life is wrought
    Not by the idler as he stands
    With wondering looks and empty hands,
    But by the toiler who can take
    Each adverse circumstance and make
    It bend beneath the force and fire
    Of firm resolve and high desire!

  25. To a Waterfowl

    by William Cullen Bryant

    Whither 'midst falling dew,
    While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
    Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
    Thy solitary way?

    Vainly the fowler's eye
    Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
    As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
    Thy figure floats along.

    Seek'st thou the plashy brink
    Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
    Or where the rocky billows rise and sink
    On the chafed ocean side?

    There is a Power whose care
    Teaches thy way along that pathless coast.
    The desert and illimitable air,
    Lone wandering, but not lost.

    All day, thy wings have fanned,
    At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
    Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land
    Though the dark night is near.

    And soon that toil shall end,
    Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
    And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
    Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.

    Thou'rt gone; the abyss of heaven
    Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart,
    Deeply has sunk the lesson thou hast given,
    And shall not soon depart.

    He, who, from zone to zone,
    Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
    In the long way that I must tread alone,
    Will lead my steps aright.

  26. Life

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in,
    A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
    A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
    And never a laugh but the moans come double;
    And that is life!

    A crust and a corner that love makes precious,
    With a smile to warm and the tears to refresh us;
    And joy seems sweeter when cares come after,
    And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter;
    And that is life!

  27. Life's Scars

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    They say the world is round, and yet
    I often think it square,
    So many little hurts we get
    From corners here and there.
    But one great truth in life I've found,
    While journeying to the West—

    The only folks who really wound
    Are those we love the best.

    The man you thoroughly despise
    Can rouse your wrath, 'tis true;
    Annoyance in your heart will rise
    At things mere strangers do;
    But those are only passing ills;
    This rule all lives will prove;
    The rankling wound which aches and thrills
    Is dealt by hands we love.

    The choicest garb, the sweetest grace,
    Are oft to strangers shown;
    The careless mien, the frowning face,
    Are given to our own.
    We flatter those we scarcely know,
    We please the fleeting guest,
    And deal full many a thoughtless blow
    To those who love us best.

    Love does not grow on every tree,
    Nor true hearts yearly bloom.
    Alas for those who only see
    This cut across a tomb!
    But, soon or late, the fact grows plain
    To all through sorrow's test:
    The only folks who give us pain
    Are those we love the best.

  28. Up-hill

    by Christina Rossetti

    Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
    Yes, to the very end.
    Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
    From morn to night, my friend.

    But is there for the night a resting-place?
    A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
    May not the darkness hide it from my face?
    You cannot miss that inn.

    Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
    Those who have gone before.
    Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
    They will not keep you standing at that door.

    Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
    Of labor you shall find the sum.
    Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
    Yea, beds for all who come.

  29. Prudence True's Crazy

    by Sam Walter Foss

    In seventeen hundred seventy-two
    Did the good matron, Prudence True,
    A saintly soul devoid of guilt,
    Begin her famous crazy quilt.
    And told her helpmeet, Goodman True,
    She'd finih in a month or two;
    And Goodman True, as good men do,
    Believed his good wife, Prudence True.

    And when he found his supper late,
    Brave Goodman True in silence sate,
    And waited till his good wife built
    Another square of crazy quilt.
    He did not rave or loudly speak,—
    Much married life had made him meek,—
    Forhe had learned from his sweet bride
    A husband's part is to subside,
    To sit serene, composed, and dumb,
    And in domestic peace succumb.
    He on the martyr plan was built
    And lived a martyr to that quilt.

    Good Prudence True, as good dames do,
    Each day her loved task would pursue;
    Each evening her brave husband tried
    To look content and edified,
    And those slow, patient hours beguile
    With his sad, long-enduring smile.
    Long years did that poor, sad soul wilt,
    Then die at last—of crazy quilt.

    Long years passed on, and Widow True
    Toiled on, as all good widows do,
    And in her calm seclusion curled
    Heard not the noises of the world.
    The echoes of the Concord fight,
    The battle fought on Bunker's height,
    The cannonade from Yorktown blown,
    That scared King George upon his throne,
    She heeded as a trivial thing;
    For what are conqueror or king
    To a good dame whose life is built
    Into her darling crazy quilt?

    She never thought if she preferred
    George Washington to George the Third;
    Her quilt was life's supremest thing,
    Both under president and king;
    While loyal to her quilt and true,
    She thought that either George would do.
    Gray, full of years, the good soul died,
    And passed on to the Glorified,
    And left this scene of woe and guilt
    And her unfinished crazy quilt.

    And then her youngest daughter, Ruth,
    In all the hopefulness of youth,
    That knows no obstacle or fears,
    Took up the mighty task of years.
    Her smile was sweet, her eyes were bright,
    Her touch was fairy-like and light;
    And lovers read within her eyes
    The tale of h appy destinies.
    And many came and knelt and sued;
    But on the quilt her eyes were glued.
    She saw them not as there they knelt,
    Love's hurtling dart she never felt,
    But gave them all to understand
    She had a m ission great and grand,
    A noble and exalted aim
    Beyond preposterous Cupid's claim;
    A great ambition, grand and high,
    To finish up that quilt and die.

    And brave Ruth kept her purpose good
    Through fourscore years of maidenhood;
    And so she lived and died a maid,
    And when she in the grave was laid,
    Her sister's youngest daughter, Sue,
    Took her unfinished quilt to do.

    Meantime old empires passed away,
    Old kingdoms fell in slow decay,
    And senile monarchs, weary grown,
    Slipped down from many a tottering throne;
    Old realms were conquered by their foes,
    Old kingdom's fell, new nations rose;
    And long engendered wars that rent
    The bases of a continent
    Swept on their path of fire and death,
    And shrivelled with their fatal breath
    The slow-built fabric of the years,
    And left a track of blood and tears.
    But while the whirling world did range
    Adown "the ringing grooves of change,"
    While Time's resistless current flowed,
    Young Sue she sewed and sewed and sewed
    And sewed and sewed, and slowly built
    The squares upon that crazy quilt.

    And now she's old and bent and gray,
    Her youthful friends have passed away,
    Her loving husband's tomb is built—
    Butstill she works upon her quilt.
    And now, deserted and forlorn,
    To generations yet unborn,
    When she has left this world of guilt,
    She'll pass along her crazy quilt.

    In six short day the world was done,
    The world, the planets, and the sun;
    But in a hundred years are built
    A fraction of a crazy quilt.

  30. Land On Your Feet

    by Sam Walter Foss

    You take a cat up by the tail,
    And whirl him round and round,
    And hurl him out into the air,
    Out in to space profound,
    He through the yielding atmosphere
    Will many awhirl complete;
    But when he strikes upon the ground
    He'll land upon his feet.

    Fate takes a man, just like a cat,
    And, with more force than grace,
    It whirls him wiggling round and round,
    And hurls him into space;
    And those that fall upon the back,
    Or land upon the head,
    Fate lets them lie there where they fall—
    They're just as good as dead.

    But some there be that, like the cat,
    Whirl round and round and round,
    And go gyrating off through space,
    Until they strike the ground;
    But when at last the ground and they
    Do really come to meet,
    You'll always find them right side up—
    They land upon their feet.

    And such a man walks off erect,
    Triumphant and elate,
    And with a courage in his heart
    He shakes his fist at fate;
    Then fate with a benignant smile
    Upon its face outspread,
    Puts forth its soft, caressing hand
    And pats him on the head.

    And he's fate's darling from that day,
    His triumph is complete;
    Fate loves the m an who whirls and whirls,
    But lands upon his feet.
    That man, whate'er his ups and downs,
    Is never wholly spurned,
    Whose perpendicularity
    Is never overturned.

  31. Patient with the Living

    by Margaret E. Sangster

    Sweet friend, when thou and I are gone
    Beyond earth's weary labor,
    When small shall be our need of grace
    From comrade or from neighbor,
    Past all the strife, the toil, the care,
    And done with all the sighing,
    What tender ruth shall we have gained,
    Alas, by simply dying!

    Then lips too chary for their praise
    Will tell our merits over,
    And eyes too swift our fault to see
    Shall no defect discover.
    Then hands that would not lift a stone
    Where tones were thick to cumber
    Our steep hill path, will scatter flower
    Above our pillowed slumber.

    Sweet friend, perchance both thou and I,
    Ere love is past forgiving,
    Should take the earnest lesson home—
    Be patient with the living.
    To-day's repressed rebuke may save
    Our blinding tears to-morrow;
    Then patience, e'en when keenest edge
    May whet a nameless sorrow.

    'Tis easy to be gentle when
    Death's silence shames our clamor,
    And easy to discern the best
    Through memory's mystic glamour;
    But wise it were for thee and me,
    Ere love is past forgiving,
    To take the tender lesson home—
    Be patient with the living.

  32. >Upon the Sand

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    All love that has not friendship for its base,
    Is like a mansion built upon the sand.
    Though brave its walls as any in the land,
    And its tall turrets lift their heads in grace;
    Though skilful and accomplished artists trace
    Most beautiful designs on every hand,
    And gleaming statues in dim niches stand,
    And fountains play in some flow'r—hidden place:

    Yet, when from the frowning east a sudden gust
    Of adverse fate is blown, or sad rains fall
    Day in, day out, against its yielding wall,
    Lo! the fair structure crumbles to the dust.
    Love, to endure life's sorrow and earth's woe,
    Needs friendship's solid masonwork below.

  33. The Smith

    by John Henton Carter

    Once a worker in iron stood at his anvil and wrought,
    Proud to think that his labor brought the reward that he sought;
    Singing, with no thought of sorrow, lo! he hammered away,
    Till the king and his courtiers paused at the smithy one day.

    Marked he the man and metal, brought from the furnace aglow;
    Watched he the sparks that scattered, saw he it yield to the blow,
    Then said he to his courtiers, "Note you the smith, and then learn;
    Mind shall rule over matter, bring it to service in turn.

    "Both are the same in nature, hammer and slug are but one,
    And yet one serves the other, obeying, though all undone.
    Take you then heed in the future, be on the battle field—
    Like to the blacksmith's hammer, compelling all else to yield."

    Then they went forth to conquer; the king and his valiant crew
    Stood like a wall, undaunted, like their bright blades tempered, too—
    Smote as the smith had smitten, every blow made to tell,
    Driving the foe before them. Then said the king, "It is well."

    This is the lesson the smith taught to the world with his blow:—
    "Lo! mind shall rule all matter; man shall continue to grow;
    All nature's forces shall serve him—serve him and not ask why—
    Until he gain his birthright, lord of all under the sky."

  34. The Wisdom of Reserve

    by Peter Burn

    If, my youthful brother.
    Thou art low and poor,
    Tell't not to another,
    He may pass thy door:
    If thou would'st have prosperity,
    Conceal from men thy poverty.

    Should'st thou, youthful brother,
    Find misfortunes rife
    Tell't not to another,
    Bear alone the strife:
    With reproof thy friend may grieve thee,
    And in thy distress may leave thee.

    Act thou thus, my brother:
    When life's ills descend,
    Trust not to another,
    On thyself depend;
    And thou wilt soon successful be,
    Then men will praise and honour thee.

  35. Freely Receive, Freely Give

    by Peter Burn

    Repay each act of kindness,
    Return each look of love,
    And not to others' goodness
    Ungrateful let us prove;
    But like the little flower,
    In thanks for what is done,
    Give sweetness for the shower,
    And beauty for the sun.

    If we derive a pleasure
    From that which we receive,
    Let us the self-same measure
    To others freely give;
    Our joy will be the sweeter,
    If we thus practise love,
    The world will be the better,
    And God our works approve.

  36. Complain Not

    by Peter Burn

    Softly, softly, do not murmur
    At thy humble, lowly lot,
    Discontent will make thee poorer—
    They are rich who covet not;
    What though many trials meet thee,
    What though friends no longer greet thee,
    What though men are ever slighting—shunning thee because thou'rt poor,
    This should not distress thee, pilgrim—does not heaven contain thy store!

    O my poor, afflicted brother,
    Let me kindly counsel thee:
    Be it still thy chief endeavour
    To possess tranquillity;
    Trials come to all in turn—
    Man is unto trouble born—
    Christ was poor, despised, forsaken, and the path of sorrow trod,
    And must we expect a portion better than the Son of God?

  37. Nature's Parables

    by Peter Burn

    On the highest hills
    Lies the whitest snow;
    In the smallest rills
    Clearest waters flow;
    In the loneliest dells
    Are the fairest bowers;
    Sweetest perfume dwells
    In the meekest flowers.

    Much may you and I
    Learn, dear friend, from this;
    We must seek on high
    For the purest bliss;
    And must tread the earth
    With an humble mind,
    If we much of worth
    Would desire to find.

  38. At School

    by John Boyle O'Reilly

    The bees are in the meadow,
    And the swallows in the sky;
    The cattle in the shadow
    Watch the river running by.
    The wheat is hardly stirring;
    The heavy ox-team lags;
    The dragon-fly is whirring
    Through the yellow-blossomed flags.

    And down beside the river,
    Where the trees lean o’er the pool,
    Where the shadows reach and quiver,
    A boy has come to school.
    His teachers are the swallows
    And the river and the trees;
    His lessons are the shallows
    And the flowers and the bees.

    He sees the fly-wave on the stream,
    The otter steal along,
    The red-gilled, slow, deep-sided bream,
    He knows the mating-song.
    The chirping green-fly on the grass
    Accepts his comrade meet;
    The small gray rabbits fearless pass;
    The birds light at his feet.

    He knows not he is learning;
    He thinks nor writes a word;
    But in the soul discerning
    A living spring is stirred.

    In after years—O, weary years!
    The river’s lesson, he
    Will try to speak to heedless ears
    In faltering minstrelsy!

  39. As You Go Through Life

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Don't look for the flaws as you go through life;
    And even when you find them,
    It is wise and kind to be somewhat blind,
    And look for the virtue behind them;
    For the cloudiest night has a hint of light
    Somewhere in its shadows hiding:
    It's better by far to hunt for a star,
    Than the spots on the sun abiding.

    The current of life runs ever away
    To the bosom of God's great ocean.
    Don't set your force 'gainst the river's course,
    And think to alter its motion.
    Don't waste a curse on the universe,
    Remember, it lived before you:
    Don't butt at the storm with your puny form,
    But bend and let it go o'er you.

    The world will never adjust itself
    To suit your whims to the letter,
    Some things must go wrong, your whole life long,
    And the sooner you know it the better.
    It is folly to fight with the Infinite,
    And go under at last in the wrestle,
    The wiser man shapes into God's plan,
    As water shapes into a vessel.

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