Edgar Albert Guest

20 August 1881 - 5 August 1959 / Birmingham / England

Fixing The Shame

They put him in jail for the thing he'd done,
For that was the law they'd made;
They turned the key on his youth till he
The price of his crime had paid.
And the wise judge said as he sentenced him,
And spoke from the facts he knew:
'The deed was yours, and the wide outdoors
No longer belongs to you.'

Oh, it isn't so long ago there went
A toddling lad of three
At the close of day for a bit of play
Astride of his father's knee.
And the father scowled and sent him off.
'Go play with the lads outside,
Don't bother me with your pranks,' said he;
And he sneered when the youngster cried.

And the father went to his work all day
And went to his bed at night,
And he gave no heed to the baby's need
Nor shared in the lad's delight.
He never knew who his playmates were,
Nor followed him off to school,
But in manner grim he punished him
Whenever he broke the rule.

Midnight came not so long ago
And the youngster was not in bed,
But the father slept while the mother kept
The watch that all mothers dread.
And whenever the mother spoke of him
Through the long black hours of night,
As the cold wind howled the father growled:
'Don't worry, the boy's all right.'

Society said at the end of things!
'The doer of crime must pay;
In a grated cell we'll make him dwell,
Shut in from the light of day.'
But I like to think that the Judge on High
Who rights all our earthly wrongs
At another time, will fix that crime
Exactly where it belongs.
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