Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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

What I Have Seen #3 - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I saw two youths: both were fair in the face,
They had set out foot to foot in life's race;
But one said to the other, 'I say now, my brother,
You are going a little too slow;
The world will look on, and say, 'See Josy John,'
We must put on more style, now, you know.'


So he tipped a plug hat on one side of his pate,
And strutted along with a Jockey Club gait;
And he carried a cane, and said, 'It is plain,
I am too fine a fellow to toil.
I can gamble and bet, and a good living get;
But my hands are too pretty to soil.


'My friend in the rear, you are slow, I am fast;
I am up with the times-I am first, you are last.
So I guess I will leave you-aw, if it won't grieve you;
I'll wait for you when I get through;
Or, when up on the hill, I'll remem-bah you still,
And-aw, mayhap I'll come and help you.'


I saw him pass on with a strut through the street;
Saw him stopped by a score of 'good boys' for a treat.
While the calm 'Josy John' went quietly on,
And kept his lips free from the bowl;
Worked at whatever came, turned from sin and from shame,
And wrote 'Purity,' 'Truth,' in his soul.


I saw two men: one was fair to behold;
The other, a drunken sot, bloated and bold.
One stood on the mountain and drank of God's fountain,
The other drank beer in the street.
Yet both started alike; but one made a 'strike,'
Which ended, you see, in defeat.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010



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