Eugene Field

2 September 1850 - 4 November 1895 / St Louis / Missouri / United States

Ashes On The Slide

When Jim and Bill and I were boys a many years ago,
How gayly did we use to hail the coming of the snow!
Our sleds, fresh painted red and with their runners round and bright,
Seemed to respond right briskly to our clamor of delight
As we dragged them up the slippery road that climbed the rugged hill
Where perched the old frame meetin'-house, so solemn-like and still.

Ah, coasting in those days--those good old days--was fun indeed!
Sleds at that time I 'd have you know were paragons of speed!
And if the hill got bare in spots, as hills will do, why then
We 'd haul on ice and snow to patch those bald spots up again;
But, oh! with what sad certainty our spirits would subside
When Deacon Frisbee sprinkled ashes where we used to slide!

The deacon he would roll his eyes and gnash his toothless gums,
And clear his skinny throat, and twirl his saintly, bony thumbs,
And tell you: 'When I wuz a boy, they taught me to eschew
The godless, ribald vanities which modern youth pursue!
The pathway that leads down to hell is slippery, straight, and wide;
And Satan lurks for prey where little boys are wont to slide!'

Now, he who ever in his life has been a little boy
Will not reprove me when he hears the language I employ
To stigmatize as wickedness the deacon's zealous spite
In interfering with the play wherein we found delight;
And so I say, with confidence, not unalloyed of pride:
'Gol durn the man who sprinkles ashes where the youngsters slide!'

But Deacon Frisbee long ago went to his lasting rest,
His money well invested in farm mortgages out West;
Bill, Jim, and I, no longer boys, have learned through years of strife
That the troubles of the little boy pursue the man through life;
That here and there along the course wherein we hoped to glide
Some envious hand has sprinkled ashes just to spoil our slide!

And that malicious, envious hand is not the deacon's now.
Grim, ruthless Fate, that evil sprite none other is than thou!
Riches and honors, peace and care come at thy beck and go;
The soul, elate with joy to-day, to-morrow writhes in woe;
And till a man has turned his face unto the wall and died,
He must expect to get his share of ashes on his slide!
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