Ella Wheeler Wilcox (5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)
Theory And Practice
The man of God stands, on the Sabbath-day,
Warning the sinners from the broad highway
That leads to death. He rolls his pious eye,
And tells how wily demons hidden lie
To spring upon the thoughtless souls who pass
Along. He lifts his hands, and cries, 'Alas!
That such things be! O sinners! pause;
Gird on God's armor; let the devil see
Thou hast espoused a high and holy cause,
And all his arts are powerless on thee.'
'Tis thus the man of God in warning cries,
And tears of heart-felt sorrow fill his eyes;
And then he doffs his surplice and his gown,
And calls for wine to wash his sorrow down.
Ah! follower of the meek and lowly One,
And is it thus that thou wouldst have men shun
The road to death? Is this the better way,
Of which thou tellest on the Sabbath-day?
This wine you sip to quench your pious thirst,
Of all the devil's arts, he reckons first.
And countless legions go down to the dead,
Slain soul and body by the demon red.
Is this the holy principle you teach?
Or shall men practise, while you only preach?
The righteous churchman reads a tale of strife,
One of those countless tragedies of city life;
He sighs, and shakes his head, and sighs again,
And thanks his God he's not as other men.
And then he sips his glass of ale or rum,
And wonders if the time shall ever come
When such things cease to be. I answer, 'When
You who bear the names of Christian men
Shall with your wines, and ales, and beers dispense,
And choose the motto, 'Total Abstinence.''
The politician sighs at the nation's debt,
And groans at his heavy tax. And yet
He calls his jolly friends from near and far,
And does not sigh or groan before the bar,
But 'treats' them with a free and lavish hand,
Thus swelling the liquor tax upon the land.
And so the world goes; and will always go
As long as fools live. And their lives are long,
As all may see who look around, and so
I'll let it waggle on, and cease my song,
Hoping 'gainst hope, that some poor struggling ray
Of common sense may find its weary way
Into the stupid hearts and brains of those
Who prate of any evil this world knows,
And sip their wines and beer, and say to men,
'We only drink a little-now and then.'
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