Henry Clay Work

1 October 1832 – 8 June 1884 / Middletown, Connecticut

Shadows On The Floor

Saturday night! Saturday night!
The hope that lingered has taken to flight;
From morning till evening, the weary week through,
In vain has he battled for something to do.
Poor man! emptyhanded, how can he return
To those whose fate hangs on the pence he may earn?
How can he reply to his questioner sweet --
"Did Papa bring Papa's girl somethin' to eat?"

Out of employ! out of employ!
Distress in the cottage where once there was joy;
How frightful the shadows that fall on the floor
When Want and Starvation appear at the door!

Wasting away! Wasting away!
His poor wife grows paler each sorrowful day,
Yet suffers in silence, and never complains, --
Reserving for others the crust that remains.
His fearful forebodings he seeks to disguise;
But now the child's prattle brings tears to his eyes;
"If Ma doze to Heaven den I mus' do, too;
But Pa, I'll frow down bread and butter for you."

Struggling for life! Struggling for life!
In spite of his courage bourne down in the strife;
Had not he the wife and the baby to save,
How willingly would be he down in the grave!
Reflections more later creep into his mind --
The promise is false, "If ye seek ye shall find."
What was it his dear little innocent said?
"Does Dod fordits us when He takes daily bread!"
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