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

Who Has It Better?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word this morning is ENVY. American poet Edgar Guest had some wise thoughts on this subject and many of his verses speak of being content, so I’m going to post a couple today.
Here’s the first…

THE OTHER FELLOW

Whose luck is better far than ours?
The other fellow’s.
Whose road seems always lined with flowers?
The other fellow’s.
Who is the man who seems to get
Most joy in life, with least regret,
Who always seems to win his bet?
The other fellow.

Who fills the place we think we’d like?
The other fellow.
Whom does good fortune always strike?
The other fellow.
Whom do we envy, day by day?
Who has more time than we to play?
Who is it, when we mourn, seems gay?
The other fellow.

Who seems to miss the thorns we find?
Th other fellow.
Who seems to leave us all behind?
The other fellow.
Who never seems to feel the woe,
The anguish and the pain we know?
Who gets the best seats at the show?
The other fellow.

And yet, my friend, who envies you?
The other fellow.
Who thinks he gathers only rue?
The other fellow.
Who sighs because he thinks that he
Would infinitely happier be,
If he could be like you or me?
The other fellow.

From his book JUST FOLKS
copyright 1917 by The Reilly & Britton Co.

Capricious Climate

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SECURITY

The calendar may say Spring starts March 21st, but here in the northern clime we have no security in that. Today is gray, gray, and a frigid blast from the northwest is driving small snowflakes past our window, sometimes lots, sometimes less. My phone tells me it’s -9 C at 11 am. So not spring!

As I looked out this morning I thought of a poem I read in an old IDEALS magazine. Apart from the autumn sky it fits well. This poem, full of personification — at least I think that’s what it’s called — was written by Oliver Herford. (See bio below.) It was included in a poetry book titled An American Anthology, 1787-1899:

BELATED VIOLET

Very dark the autumn sky,
Dark the clouds that hurried by;
Very rough the autumn breeze
Shouting rudely to the trees.
Listening, frightened, pale, and cold,
Through the withered leaves and mould
Peered a violet all in dread—
“Where, oh, where is spring?” she said.
Sighed the trees, “Poor little thing!
She may call in vain for spring.”
And the grasses whispered low,
“We must never let her know.”
“What's this whispering?” roared the breeze;
“Hush! a violet,” sobbed the trees,
“Thinks it 's spring,—poor child, we fear
She will die if she should hear!”
Softly stole the wind away,
Tenderly he murmured, “Stay!”
To a late thrush on the wing,
“Stay with her one day and sing!”
Sang the thrush so sweet and clear
That the sun came out to hear,
And, in answer to her song,
Beamed on Violet all day long;
And the last leaves here and there
Fluttered with a spring-like air.
Then the violet raised her head,—
“Spring has come at last!” she said.
Happy dreams had Violet
All that night—but happier yet,
When the dawn came dark with snow,
Violet never woke to know.

And here’s one I think we can all identify with:

To Music
Here's to Music,
Joy of joys!
One man's music's
Another man's noise.

This bio comes from publicdomainpoetry.com

Oliver Herford, 1863-1935, was a British born American writer, artist and illustrator who has been called “The American Oscar Wilde”. As a frequent contributor to The Mentor, Life, and Ladies’ Home Journal, he sometimes signed his artwork as “O Herford”. In 1906 he wrote and illustrated the “Little Book of Bores”. He also wrote short poems like “The Chimpanzee” and “The Hen”, as well as writing and illustrating “The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten” (1904), “Cynic’s Calendar” (1917) and “Excuse It Please” (1930). His sister Beatrice Herford was also a humorist.

Funny — Or Cruel?

One day the Daily Prompt asked what tricks someone could play on me that would truly scare me. It shouldn’t be hard, as I’m a timid sort and easily frightened. (My reason for avoiding heart-stopping suspense and horror stories.) But what pleasure would it give someone to know they’d terrified me? Is that not cruelty?

My mind goes back to something my husband’s distant cousin, another Bob, told his teenage son one day. “If you’re going to pull a prank, use your brain. Don’t do something stupid that you’re going to be embarrassed about later. Do something you’ll be proud of. Something unique or spectacular.”

He explained that when he was in his teens a group of guys had gotten together one night and dismantled some piece of equipment — or an old car? — and carried it piece by piece up to the top of a prominent building. There they’d reassembled it so that in the morning everyone passing by could see this bizarre object sitting on the roof. Now that was a novelty people chuckled over for a good while after.

My husband remembers that when he was a boy an old wagon appeared, through similar circumstances, on top to the town hall in Craik, SK one Nov 1st. Seeing it there gave local folks a chuckle, but no one was terrified or injured.

Though I’m not a fan of tricks, I believe Cousin Bob had a point. Some young folks think it’s fun to destroy things. Why? Does some anger in their own heart seek an outlet in being nasty to others? Often they choose the most helpless as their victims, someone who can’t retaliate. They don’t want to risk someone bigger and stronger catching up with them and punishing them for their misdeeds.

One young man talked of how his uncle would tickle him and his brothers when they were boys — and keep on until they were in tears and screaming. Uncle called it fun; his nephews called it a kind of torture and avoided him whenever they could. “Funny” that humiliates or hurts someone or some creature is a very perverted humor.

A Calm Untouched

Here are two verses in the much longer poem, Ode to the Hills, by Archibald Lampman. I find it very soothing as well as picturesque. I think of the Rockies when I read this.

Empires have come and gone,
And glorious cities fallen in their prime;
Divine, far-echoing, names once writ in stone
Have vanished in the dust and void of time;
But ye, firm-set, secure,
Like treasure in the hardness of God’s palm,
Are yet the same for ever; ye endure
By virtue of an old slow-ripening word,
In your grey majesty and sovereign calm,
Untouched, unstirred.

And yet not harsh alone,
Nor wild, nor bitter are your destinies,
O fair and sweet, for all your heart of stone,
Who gather beauty round your Titan knees,
As the lens gathers light.
The dawn gleams rosy on your splendid brows,
The sun at noonday folds you in his might,
And swathes your forehead at his going down,
Last leaving, where he first in pride bestows,
His golden crown.

Emerald Lake by Faith McDonald — Unsplash

Home Joys

Many people have written about the joys of coming home, of rediscovering the treasures you were taking for granted, and one wise writer once declared that “HOME” is the nicest word. Yes, it was great to visit dear friends elsewhere, but now we are home again, and very glad to be here. 🙂

The Joy of Getting Home

by Edgar A. Guest

The joy of getting home again
is the sweetest thrill I know.
Though travelers by ship or train
are smiling when they go,
the eye is never quite so bright,
the smile so wide and true,
as when they pass the last home light
and all their wandering’s through.

Oh, I have journeyed down to sea
and traveled far by rail,
but naught was quite so fair to me
as that last homeward trail.
Oh, nothing was in London town,
or Paris gay, or Rome
with all its splendor and renown
so good to see as home.

‘Tis good to take these lovely trips,
‘tis good to get away,
there’s pleasure found on sailing ships,
but travel as you may
you’ll learn as most of us have learned,
wherever you may roam,
you’re happiest when your face is turned
toward the lights of home.

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