THE THINGS THAT MATTER.
Now that I’ve nearly done my days,
And grown too stiff to sweep or sew,
I sit and think, till I’m amaze,
About what lots of things I know:
Things as I’ve found out one by one—
And when I’m fast down in the clay,
My knowing things and how they’re done
Will all be lost and thrown away.
There’s things, I know, as won’t be lost,
Things as folks write and talk about:
The way to keep your roots from frost,
And how to get your ink spots out.
What medicine’s good for sores and sprains,
What way to salt your butter down,
What charms will cure your different pains,
And what will bright your faded gown.
But more important things than these,
They can’t be written in a book:
How fast to boil your greens and peas,
And how good bacon ought to look;
The feel of real good wearing stuff,
The kind of apple as will keep,
The look of bread that’s rose enough,
And how to get a child asleep.
Whether the jam is fit to pot,
Whether the milk is going to turn,
Whether a hen will lay or not,
Is things as some folks never learn.
I know the weather by the sky,
I know what herbs grow in what lane;
And if sick men are going to die,
Or if they’ll get about again.
Young wives come in, a-smiling, grave,
With secrets that they itch to tell:
I know what sort of times they’ll have,
And if they’ll have a boy or gell.
And if a lad is ill to bind,
Or some young maid is hard to lead,
I know when you should speak ’em kind,
And when it’s scolding as they need.
I used to know where birds ud set,
And likely spots for trout or hare,
And God may want me to forget
The way to set a line or snare;
But not the way to truss a chick,
To fry a fish, or baste a roast,
Nor how to tell, when folks are sick,
What kind of herb will ease them most!
Forgetting seems such silly waste!
I know so many little things,
And now the Angels will make haste
To dust it all away with wings!
O God, you made me like to know,
You kept the things straight in my head,
Please God, if you can make it so,
Let me know something when I’m dead.
I haven’t always acted good:
I’ve taken things not meant for me;
Not other people’s drink and food,
But things they never seemed to see.
I haven’t done the way I ought
If all they say in church is true,
But all I’ve had I’ve fairly bought,
And paid for pretty heavy too.
For days and weeks are very long
If you get nothing new and bright,
And if you never do no wrong
Somehow you never do no right.
The chap that daresent go a yard
For fear the path should lead astray
May be a saint—though that seems hard,
But he’s no traveller, any way.