I Owe No Man A Dollar

Life Magazine 1937

Life Magazine 1937

I Owe no Man a Dollar.


Oh, do not envy, my own dear wife,
The wealth of our next door neighbor,
And bid me still to be stout of heart,
And cheerfully follow my labor;
You must know, the last of those little debts
That have been our lingering sorrow,
Is paid this night! So we’ll both go forth
With happier hearts to-morrow.
Oh, the debtor is but a shame-faced dog,
With the creditors name on his collar.
While I am a king and you are a queen,
For we owe no man a dollar!

Our neighbor you saw in his coach to-day,
With his wife and his flaunting daughter,
While we sat down to our coverless board,
To a crust and a cup of water;
I saw that a tear drop stood in your eye,
Though you tried your best to conceal it —
I knew that the contrast touched your heart,
And you could not help but feel it;
But knowing now that our scanty fare
Has freed thy neck from the collar,
You’ll join my laugh and help me shout
That we owe no man a dollar!

This neighbor whose show has dazzled your eyes,
In fact is a wretched debtor;
I pity him oft from my very heart,
And I wish that his lot were better.
Why, the man is the veriest slave alive;
For his dashing wife and daughter
Will live in style thouge ruin should come —
So he goes like a lamb to the slaughter;
But he feels it the tighter every day,
That terrible debtor’s collar!
Oh, what would he give, could he say with us
That he owed no man a dollar!

You seem amazed, but I’ll tell you more;
Within two hours I met him.
Sneaking away with a frightened air,
As if a fiend had beset him!
Yet he fled from a very worthy man,
Whom I met with the greatest pleasure —
Whom I called by name and forced to stop,
Though he said he was not at leisure,
He held my last note! so I held him fast,
Till he freed my neck from the collar,
Then I shook his hand as I proudly said:
Now, I owe no man a dollar!

Ah now you smile, for you feel the force
Of the truth I have been repeating;
I knew that a downright honest heart
In that gentle breast was breathing!
To morrow I’ll rise with a giant’s strength,
To follow my daily labor;
But e’er we sleep, let us humbly pray
For our wretched next door neighbor;
And we’ll pray for the time when all shall be free
From the weight of the debtor’s collar —
When the poorest shall lift up his voice and cry,
“Now, I owe no man a dollar!”

Fort Wayne Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Oct 24, 1857

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