The poem is " A Day Too Late" by Clement Nugent Jackson
Kind frinds this is my Berth day i ham seventy five yers old this day and i have Been verey ill a Long time and can scerce get about at tall so the smalls mite i shall Be thankfull" The above tells its own story. It is the facsimile of an appeal scrawled upon a poor little scrap of soiled paper by the original of " Gufiy, " and placed by him upon his basket at the Oxford Station.
I was thinking to-day of something
That happened years ago,
When we lived in Flower Alley, '
(That hadn't a flower to show.)
Many might call it a trifle, and 'tis but a trifle, and yet '
Twas a lesson that I shall never, no never, never forget.
At the end of Flower Alley
There lived a poor old man.
Guffy- the children called him.
He was thin as my frying-pan,
Thin, and shrivelled, and shaky, and poor as the poorest mouse,
And he lived alone in a garret at the top of a lodginghouse.
Nobody knew where he come from.
Nobody knew what he'd been.
He hadn't a relation
That anyone had seen.
He used to sell nuts and apples under the station wall,
For that was just the distance the poor old chap could crawl.
Once he sat down on our doorstep,
And I took him a cup of tea.
And after that beginning
He'd creep in occasionally
And have a talk with the children.
And I liked to listen too,
For bless you! he'd read his Bible, and knew it through and through.
And he'd sit and give a sermon
That splendid, text an' all-
That he might have been a Bishop
A-preaching in St. Paul.
And then he'd take his basket.
" Good-night, my dears, " he'd say,
" God bless you for your kindness " - and he'd slowly creep away.
One day, 'twas in the winter,
Jim come in to his tea.
" Annie, the fog is dreadful.
It's black as your hat, " says he.
" I've been leading poor old Guffy- he couldn't find his door.
It strikes me, with such weather, he can't hold out much more."
I was grieved to hear Jim say so,
And the thought came—quick as light—
That I'd run down and see him
'Fore supper time that night.
And as our hens were laying, " I'll take him some eggs, " thinks I.
" A real fresh egg for breakfast is what he might like to try."
The thought was kind and friendly
And I know it came to me
From the Lord of all that's loving
And kind and neighbouly.
But Jim got a-reading the paper, and I got a-listening so
That by the time he finished 'twas too late for me to go.
And the next day was a Friday.
I was busy as a bee,
For Jim is early Saturdays,
And likes to find me free,
So I do my cleaning Fridays. I was most run off my legs,
And never gave a minute to Guffy and the eggs.
But early Saturday mroning
I thought I'd go and see
How the old man was. Ah, clearly
That morning comes back to me!
The fog was gone, and the sunbeams were dancing overhead,
And when I reached the lodgings...I heard that he was dead.
Dead! He had died o' Friday.
Alone, without a friend,
Without a neighbour near him
To help him at the end.
And me that lived so handy...And he never, never knew
The thought I'd had about him, the kindness I MEANT to do.
There were the eggs in my basket,
Too late to do him good....
I know I stood in the doorway
Like a stone, or a bit of wood,
While the women gossipped round me, I had nothing, nothing to say,
Except...that I was...sorry! and then I turned away.
Friends, in this world of hurry,
And work, and sudden end,
If a thought comes quick of doing
A kindness to a friend,
DO IT THAT BLESSED MINUTE. Don't put it off. Don't wait.
What's the use of doing a kindness if you do it a day too late?