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Wisdom Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Old Men's Counsel by Anonymous
  2. Folly Made Left-Handed by Hannah Flagg Gould
  3. I worked for chaff, and earning wheat by Emily Dickinson
  4. King Solomon and the Ants by John Greenleaf Whittier
  5. The King's Ring by Theodore Tilton
  6. True Wisdom by Lydia Howard Sigourney
  7. There's Wisdom in Women by Rupert Brooke
  8. The Doves by Harriet McEwen Kimball
  9. The Hustling Pumpkin Vine by Uncle Mose


Where sense is wanting, everything is wanting.

– Ben Franklin
Poor Richard's Almanack
  1. Old Men's Counsel

    Old men's counsel, rich in deeds,
    Plans, persists, and then succeeds.

    – Amos Russel Wells
    Old Men's Counsel
    by Amos Russel Wells

    Young men's counsel breathes desire,
    Ardent passion, raging fire.

    Old men's counsel utters truth,
    Governing the fires of youth.

    Young men's counsel leaps on high,
    Like a rocket in the sky.

    Old men's counsel will be found
    Firmly fixed upon the ground.

    Young men's counsel bravely dares,
    And a lordly front it wears.

    Old men's counsel, brave yet wise,
    Tests its wings before it flies.

    Young men's counsel looks afar
    Where the shining mountains are.

    Old men's counsel seeks to know
    Safest ways and best to go.

    Young men's counsel, over-hold,
    Grasps a prize, but does not hold.

    Old men's counsel, rich in deeds,
    Plans, persists, and then succeeds.


    Experience is the father of Wisdom.

    – Old Adage
  2. Folly Made Left-Handed

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Wit was fairly tired of play;
    And the little archer lay
    On a grassy bank, one day,
    By a gurgling river.
    Here, he thought he'd take a nap,
    And to guard them from mishap,
    In his mantle he would wrap
    His golden bow and quiver.

    Scarce a moment had he slept,
    Ere upon his finger stepped
    Some one, who was no adept
    In the art of creeping.
    Wit was ever quick to feel,
    Soon he knew the heavy heel—
    Folly came his bow to steal,
    While he thought him sleeping.

    He arose, and, "now," said he,
    "Let my bow and arrows be,
    Till their use you learn of me,
    Folly, I beseech you!
    But, if you would know my art,
    And be skilful with the dart,
    Let's a moment stand apart,
    So that I may teach you."

    Folly moved a pace or two;
    Wit took aim, and quickly drew—
    "Whiz!" the arrow went, and flew,
    Fastening in his shoulder.
    "Oh!" cried Folly, "Oh! I'm dead!
    Wounded both in heart and head!"
    "You will live," Wit smiling said,
    "To be ages older.

    "Banish every vain alarm,
    You receive no other harm
    Than a useless, palsied arm,
    For an hour of fooling.
    Hence, of that right hand bereft,
    Folly, you must use your left,
    A memento of your theft,
    And my timely schooling!"

    Wisdom saw the war begin
    'Twixt the two so near akin,
    And she would, by stepping in,
    Fain have made them wiser.
    But, she was repelled by both,
    Who, alike incensed and loth
    To be tutored, took an oath
    Ever to despise her.


    Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

    – Proverbs 9:8
    The Bible, ESV
  3. I worked for chaff, and earning wheat

    Wisdom is more becoming viewed
    At distance than at hand.

    – Emily Dickinson
    I worked for chaff, and earning wheat
    by Emily Dickinson

    I worked for chaff, and earning wheat
    Was haughty and betrayed.
    What right had fields to arbitrate
    In matters ratified?

    I tasted wheat, — and hated chaff,
    And thanked the ample friend;
    Wisdom is more becoming viewed
    At distance than at hand.

  4. King Solomon and the Ants

    by John Greenleaf Whittier

    Out from Jerusalem
    The king rode with his great
    War chiefs and lords of state,
    And Sheba's queen with them.

    Proud in the Syrian sun,
    In gold and purple sheen,
    The dusky Ethiop queen
    Smiled on King Solomon.

    Wisest of men, he knew
    The languages of all
    The creatures great or small
    That trod the earth or flew.

    Across an ant-hill led
    The king's path, and he heard
    Its small folk, and their word
    He thus interpreted:

    "Here comes the king men greet
    As wise and good and just,
    To crush us in the dust
    Under his heedless feet."

    The great king bowed his head,
    And saw the wide surprise
    Of the Queen of Sheba's eyes
    As he told her what they said.

    "O king!" she whispered sweet,
    "Too happy fate have they
    Who perish in thy way
    Beneath thy gracious feet!

    "Thou of the God-lent crown,
    Shall these vile creatures dare
    Murmur against thee where
    The knees of kings kneel down?"

    "Nay," Solomon replied,
    "The wise and strong should seek
    The welfare of the weak;"
    And turned his horse aside.

    His train, with quick alarm,
    Curved with their leader round
    The ant-hill's peopled mound,
    And left it free from harm.

    The jeweled head bent low;
    "O king!" she said, "henceforth
    The secret of thy worth
    And wisdom well I know.

    "Happy must be the State
    Whose ruler heedeth more
    The murmurs of the poor
    Than flatteries of the great."

  5. The King's Ring

    Fit for every change and chance.
    Solemn words; and these are they:
    "Even this shall pass away."

    – Theodore Tilton
    The King's Ring
    by Theodore Tilton

    Once in Persia reigned a king
    Who upon his signet ring
    Graved a maxim true and wise
    Which, if held before his eyes,
    Gave him counsel at a glance
    Fit for every change and chance.
    Solemn words; and these are they:
    "Even this shall pass away."

    Trains of camels through the sand
    Brought him gems from Samarcand,
    Fleets of galleys through the seas
    Brought him pearls to match with these;
    But he counted not his gain—
    Treasurer of the mine and main,
    "What is wealth?" the king would say;
    "Even this shall pass away."

    In the revels of his court
    At the zenith of the sport,
    When the palms of all his guests
    Burned with clapping at his jests,
    He, amid his figs and wine,
    Cried: "O loving friends of mine!
    Pleasures come, but not to stay,
    Even this shall pass away."

    Fighting on a furious field
    Once a javelin pierced his shield;
    Soldiers with loud lament
    Bore him bleeding to his tent,
    Groaning with his tortured side.
    "Pain is hard to bear," he cried;
    "But with patience day by day,
    Even this shall pass away."

    Struck with palsy, sere and old,
    Waiting at the gates of gold,
    Spake he with his dying breath:
    "Life is done, but what is death?"
    Then, in answer to the king,
    Fell a sunbeam on his ring,
    Showing by a heavenly ray:
    "Even this shall pass away."

  6. True Wisdom

    For while we trifle the light sand steals on,
    Leaving the hour-glass empty. So thy life
    Glideth away. Stamp wisdom on its hours.

    – Lydia Howard Sigourney
    True Wisdom
    by Lydia Howard Sigourney

    Why break the limits of permitted thought
    To revel in Elysium? thou who bear'st
    Still the stern yoke of this unresting life,
    Its toils, its hazards, and its fears of change?
    Why hang thy frostwork wreath on Fancy's brow,
    When Labour warns thee to thy daily task,
    And Faith doth bid thee gird thyself to run
    A faithful journey to the gate of Heaven?

    Up, 'tis no dreaming-time! awake! awake!
    For He who sits on the High Judge's seat
    Doth in his record note each wasted hour,
    Each idle word. Take heed thy shrinking soul
    Find not their weight too heavy when it stands
    At that dread bar from whence is no appeal.
    For while we trifle the light sand steals on,
    Leaving the hour-glass empty. So thy life
    Glideth away. Stamp wisdom on its hours.


    So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

    – Psalm 90:12
    The Bible, KJV
  7. Heaven

    by Rupert Brooke

    "Oh love is fair, and love is rare;" my dear one she said,
    "But love goes lightly over." I bowed her foolish head,
    And kissed her hair and laughed at her. Such a child was she;
    So new to love, so true to love, and she spoke so bitterly.

    But there's wisdom in women, of more than they have known,
    And thoughts go blowing through them, are wiser than their own,
    Or how should my dear one, being ignorant and young,
    Have cried on love so bitterly, with so true a tongue?

  8. The Doves

    by Harriet McEwen Kimball

    Pretty doves, so blithely ranging
    Up and down the street;
    Glossy throats all bright hues changing
    Little scarlet feet!

    Pretty doves! among the daisies
    They should coo and flit!
    All these toilsome, noisy places
    Seem for them unfit.

    Yet amidst our human plodding,
    They must love to be;
    With their little heads a-nodding,
    Busier than we.

    Close to hoof and wheel they hover,
    Glancing right and left,
    Sure some treasure to discover;
    Rapid, shy, and deft.

    Friendliest of feathered creatures,
    In their timid guise;
    Wisdom’s little silent teachers,
    Praying us be wise.

    Fluttering at footsteps careless,
    Danger swift to flee,
    Lowly, trusting, faithful, fearless,—
    Oh, that such were we!

    In the world and yet not of it,
    Ready to take wing,—
    By this lesson could we profit
    It were everything!


    16Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

    – Matthew 10:16
    KJV
  9. 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.


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.

– Psalm 111:10a
KJV

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