The Guide Post.
Translated by Bayard Taylor from the Alemadnic-German dialect of John Peter Hebel.
D’ye know the road to th’ bar’l o’ flour?
At break o’ day let down the bars,
And plough y’r wheat-field hour by hour,
Till sundown — yes, till shade o’ starts.
You peg away the livelong day,
Nor loaf away, nor gape around;
And that’s the road to the thrashing’-floor,
And into the kitchen, I’ll be bound.
D’ye know the road where the dollars lay?
Follow the red cents here and there;
For if a man leaves them I can guess,
He won’t find dollars any where.
D’ye know the road to Sunday’s rest?
Jist don’t o’ week-day’s be afeard;
In field and workshop do y’r best,
And Sunday comes itself, I’ve heard.
On Saturday’s it’s not far off,
And brings a basketful o’ cheer, –
A roast and lots o’ garden stuff,
And, like as not, a jug o’ beer!
D’ye know the road to poverty?
Turn in at any tavern sign;
Turn in — it’s temptin’ as can be;
There’s bran new cards and liquor fine.
In the last tavern there’s a sack,
And, when the cash y’r pockets quit,
Jist hand the wallet on y’r back.
You vagabond! see how it fits!
D’ye know what road to honor leads?
And good old age? — a lovely sight!
By way o’ temperance, honest deeds,
And tryin’ to do y’r duty right.
And when the roads forks, ary side,
And you’re in doubt which one it is,
Stand still, and let your conscience guide;
Thank God, it can’t lead much amiss!
And now the road to church yard gate
You needn’t ask! Go anywhere!
For, whether roundabout or straight,
All roads, at last, ‘ll bring you there.
Go, fearin’ God, but loving more!
I’ve tried to be an honest guide, –
You’ll find the grave has got a door,
And something for you t’other side.
Appleton Motor (Appleton, Wisconsin) Jul 3, 1862