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My Every Wish

From the Grand Forks Daily Herald, April 27, 1915. By Jay B. Iden.

If I were told my every wish kind heaven’d grant to me,
I’d take my childhood back again, but, dear Lord, make it free
From all the prickly nettles that beset my childish way
And left their cruel scars upon my heart from day to day.
We hear folks talk of poverty, of how it trains the mind,
And steels us ‘gainst adversity, and helps us to be kind;
But you who’ve never felt its sting, on whom good fortune’s smiled,
Oh, wist ye not the longings of a hungry-hearted child.

If I were told my every wish kind heaven’d grant to me,
I’d take my childhood back again, but not its poverty.
I’d take the breath of daisy blooms, the warm, warm April rain,
The dear wild roses clinging to the fence along the lane;
I’d take the path I used to know at eve along the hill,
I’d pause again beside the wood to hear the whippoorwill;
I’d be again the wanton child, so wayward, wild and free,
And hear again, at eventide, my mother calling me.

If I were told every wish kind heaven would fulfill,
I’d ask but for my childhood days, the old, old days—but still,
If they should bring the old, old wants, the trials hard to bear,
My father worn with toil and dread, my mother worn with care,
If I should see the neighbor folk in gay apparel pass,
I think I’d do as I did then, fall sobbing in the grass;
The warm, warm grass that spread about the sheltering maple tree,
Which seemed to throw its great arms out to hide our poverty.

So, if perchance, my every wish kind heaven’d grant to me,
I would not call my childhood back; nay, rather let it be.
Not all the glad days on the hill where thick the daisies grew,
Nor all the wild flowers blossoming amid the morning dew;
Nor all the pleasant dreams I dreamed, o’ still midsummer nights,
Nor all the games I used to play where hawthorne blooms were white;
Nor all the songs my mother sang of Erin’s sparkling streams—
Such wishes, ay, they could but rise from ashes of her dreams.

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