My Aunt’s Bonnet

A smile for you this morning. 🙂

My Aunt’s Bonnet
by Edgar A. Guest

They say life’s simple — but I don’t know.
Who can tell where a word will go?
Or how many hopes will rise and fall
with the weakest brick in the cellar wall?

Or how many hearts will break and bleed
as the result of one careless deed?
Why, my old Aunt’s bonnet caused more dismay
than a thousand suns could shine away.

She wore it high through her top-knot pinned,
a perfect kite for a heavy wind,
but the hat would stick, though a gale might blow,
if she found the place where the pins should go.

One Sunday morning she dressed in haste,
she hadn’t a minute which she could waste,
she’d be late for church. Now the tale begins:
she didn’t take care with those bonnet pins.

Oh the wind it howled, and the wind it blew
and away from her head that bonnet flew!
It swirled up straight to select its course,
first brushing the ears of the deacon’s horse.

With a leap he scampered away in fright
and scattered the children, left and right.
A stranger grabbed for the horse’s head,
but stumbled and fractured his own instead.

After the bonnet a small boy ran,
knocked over a woman and tripped a man.
The deacon’s daughter married the chap
who rescued her from the swaying trap.

And she lived to regret it later on;
In all that town there abided none
whose life wasn’t changed on that dreadful day
when my old Aunt’s bonnet was blown away.

Some were crippled and some went mad,
some turned saintly and some turned bad;
birth and marriage and death and pain
were all swept down in that bonnet’s train.

Wives quarreled with husbands! I can’t relate
the endless tricks which were played by fate.
There are folk today who had not been born
had my Aunt stayed home on that Sunday morn.

From the book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

Can’t Be Done?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is PUNCTUATE. Rather than going into details about commas, colons and semi-colons, I’ll share this bit of history and add a favorite verse.

During his sermon one Sunday our Pastor described the scene when the children of Israel faced the promised land. They’d spent enough time trekking through the desert, now they were eager to go in and take possession of the land. First they sent spies to assess the situation–and especially the opposition. Twelve men went a-spying and came back bearing the fruit of the land, huge clusters of grapes, sheaves of grain, etc. Yes, it was indeed a fruitful land.

However, ten of the spies fretted about the men of the land: huge, fearsome, well armed men of war. “We were as grasshoppers in their sight.” They’d have to conquer great fortified cities. When the ten spies were done giving their report, protests and plaints punctuated the air. “Giants! Great walled cities! They’ll slaughter us! We just can’t do this!”

Joshua & Caleb, the other two spies encouraged the group. “Yes, we can! No need to fear.” Caleb urged them, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it….If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.” (Account from Numbers 13: 25 to 14:40)

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 in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

Here’s To Friends!

New Year’s Eve seems to be a time for paying tribute to our dear old friends, maybe because of Bobby Burns’ poem that’s come to be a standard New Year’s Eve song:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And the days of auld lang syne?
... We'll drink a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne.

I came across an enjoyable poem by Edgar Guest where he pays tribute to a dear friend. Here’s part of it:

To An Old Friend

When we have lived our little lives
and wandered all their byways through,
when we’ve seen all that we shall see
and finished all that we must do,
when we shall take one backward look
off yonder where our journey ends,
I pray that you shall be as glad
as I shall be that we were friends.

When we have met all we shall meet
and know what destiny has planned,
I shall rejoice in that last hour
that I have known your friendly hand;
I shall go singing down the way
off yonder as my sun descends
as one who’s had a happy life,
made glorious by the best of friends.

From his book,  Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Still Young at Seventy-Three

Well, I’m not seventy-three yet, but I hope I can still maintain an interest in life, even well past that milestone — as I’m sure Mr Guest did.

OLD AGE

by Edgar Guest (1881-1959)

I used to think that growing old was reckoned just in years,
but who can name the very date when weariness appears?
I find no stated time when man, obedient to a law,
must settle in an easy chair and from the world withdraw.
Old age is rather curious, or so it seems to me;
I know old men at forty and young men at seventy-three.

I’m done with counting life by years or temples turning gray.
No man is old who wakes with joy to greet another day.
What if the body cannot dance with youth’s elastic spring?
There’s many a vibrant interest to which the mind can cling.
It’s in the spirit Age must dwell, or this would never be:
I know old men at forty and young men at seventy-three.

Some men keep all their friendships warm and welcome friendships new;
they have no time to sit and mourn the things they used to do.
This changing world they greet with joy and never bow to fate;
on every fresh adventure they set out with hearts elate.
From chilling fear and bitter dread they keep their spirits free
while some seem old at forty, they stay young at seventy-three.

So much to do, so much to learn, so much in which to share!
With twinkling eyes and minds alert some brave both time and care.
And this I’ve learned from other men, that only they are old
who think with something that has passed the tale of life is told.
For Age is not alone of time, or we should never see
Men old and bent at forty and men young at seventy-three.

From the book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

All Those Lovely Gifts!

AS IT GOES
by Edgar Guest

In the corner she’s left the mechanical toy,
  on the chair is her Teddy Bear fine;
the things that I thought she would really enjoy
 don’t seem to be quite in her line.

There’s the flaxen-haired doll that is lovely to see
  and really expensively dressed,
left alone, all uncared for, and strange though it be,
  she likes her rag dolly the best.

Oh, the money we spent and the plans that we laid
  and the wonderful things that we bought!
There are toys that are cunningly, skilfully made,
  but she seems not to give them a thought.

She was pleased when she woke and discovered them there,
 but never a one of us guessed
that it isn’t the splendor that makes a gift rare– 
 she likes her rag dolly the best.

There’s the flaxen-haired doll with the real human hair,
there’s the Teddy Bear left all alone,
there’s the automobile at the foot of the stair,
and there is her toy telephone;

We thought they were fine, but a little child’s eyes
   look deeper than ours to find charm,
and now she’s in bed and the rag dolly lies
  snuggled close on her little white arm.

From the book Just Folks by Edgar A Guest
© 1917 by the Reilly & Britton Co.

The Neighborly Man

Recently I started reading a book titled EMBRACING OBSCURITY. The author, Anonymous, writes about how, in today's society, we're apt to feel we must be a SOMEBODY if we want to count at all. I haven't read far, but I gather he's saying we need to abandon dreams of being Big Names and settle for  being ordinary people. As Edgar Guest aspires to in this verse...
The Neighborly Man

Some are eager to be famous, some are striving to be great,
some are toiling to be leaders of their nation or their state,
and in every man’s ambition, if we only understood,
there is much that’s fine and splendid; every hope is mostly good.
So I cling unto the notion that contented I will be
if the men upon life’s pathway find a needed friend in me.

I rather like to putter ‘round the walks and yards of life,
to spray at night the roses that are burned and browned with strife;
to eat a frugal dinner, but always to have a chair
for the unexpected stranger that my simple meal would share.
I don’t care to be a traveler, I would rather be the one
sitting calmly by the roadside helping weary travelers on.

I’d like to be a neighbor in the good old-fashioned way,
finding much to do for others, but not over much to say.
I like to read the papers, but I do not years to see
what the journal of the morning has been moved to say of me;
in the silences and shadows I would live my life and die
and depend for fond remembrance on some grateful passers-by.

I guess I wasn’t fashioned for the brilliant things of earth,
wasn’t gifted much with talent or designed for special worth,
but was just sent here to putter with life’s little odds and ends
and keep a simple corner where the stirring highway bends,
and if folks should chance to linger, warn and weary through the day,
to do some needed service and to cheer them on their way.

From his book,  Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company
Image from Pixabay