Saturday Night: One Sober, One Drunk


SATURDAY night! How much it is fraught
With bright recollections of what it has brought;
How the children go skipping, with smiles on each face,
To welcome their father who cometh space;
Joyously roam
The dear little children, for “Papa’s come home!”

Home from the labors of office or store,
Happy is he when he reaches the door;
Home from the workshop or other employ,
Filled with the purest and manliest joy!

Fondest of fathers! Blithe, active and strong,
Happy and good as the blest day is long;
Smiles for his family, in pleasure and pain,
Calm and contented in sunshine or rain’
Bringing to them
Some little gift that to each seems a gem.

Deep in the depths of his pockets are laid
Queerest of playthings, most cunningly made;
And wise little heads have discovered the bliss
Of searching his pockets for that thing or this.

Bills has he none — and his conscience is free,
Free as the birds, or the waves of the sea,
True to his manhood, he wins in a fight,
Honest and sober, and seeking the right;
Working his way,
Wearing the crown of contentment alway

Well may his wife wear a bright, sunny face;
Well may his little ones scamper and race!
Theirs is a father deserving the name,
Bringing no trouble, nor sorrow, nor shame.
*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
Saturday night! How the winds whistle shrill,
While a poor, wretched mother, with two children ill,
Sits in her hovel, half dreading to think
Of the days ere her husband had taken to drink;
Troop into view
The old recollections when he was so true!

But now, ah, how changed! Not a morsel to eat,
Scarce a garment to warm her, no shoes on her feet;
And the children, oh, God! must these little ones be
In sickness, unclothed and unfed? “Must they die?”

Hark! ’tis the wind; he’s coming at last,
And she listens, and listens — the footsteps go past,
But another step now — ’tis unsteady and slow,
His is coming — that step she has learned to her woe;
Totteringly come
The steps, once a man’s but now guided by rum.

What a wreck! With a hand like an old palsied man
Who his glorious days of allotment bad ran;
With a step like an infant just learning to walk,
And his words like an infant just learning to talk.

And this was a man, and for this men will drink?
Poor imbeciles, surely, who never will think;
For, how could a thinking man blot out his life?
Forgetting his God, and his children and wife
Digging his grave
By the power of drink — but no power to save.

With a terrible curse while he’s just on the brink —
For the men who enticed him and sold him his drink,
He dies, and oblivion covers his shame,
While mortified friends blush to mention his name.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Nov 16, 1872

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