Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

Father


He never made a fortune, or a noise
In the world where men are seeking after fame;
But he had a healthy brood of girls and boys
Who loved the very ground on which he trod.
They thought him just little short of God;
Oh you should have heard the way they said his name –
‘Father.’

There seemed to be a loving little prayer
In their voices, even when they called him ‘Dad.’
Though the man was never heard of anywhere,
As a hero, yet somehow understood
He was doing well his part and making good;
And you knew it, by the way his children had
Of saying ‘Father.’

He gave them neither eminence nor wealth,
But he gave them blood untainted with a vice,
And opulence of undiluted health.
He was honest, and unpurchable and kind;
He was clean in heart, and body, and in mind.
So he made them heirs to riches without price –
This father.

He never preached or scolded; and the rod –
Well, he used it as a turning pole in play.
But he showed the tender sympathy of God.
To his children in their troubles, and their joys.
He was always chum and comrade with his boys,
And his daughters – oh, you ought to hear them say
‘Father.’

Now I think of all achievements ‘tis the least
To perpetuate the species; it is done
By the insect and the serpent, and the beast.
But the man who keeps his body, and his thought,
Worth bestowing on an offspring love-begot,
Then the highest earthly glory he was won,
When in pride a grown-up daughter or a son
Says ‘That’s Father.’

Submitted: Saturday, May 31, 2003

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