Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NO!, by ALEXANDER BROWN

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First Line: Among the quaint maxims come down from our fathers
Last Line: He'll soon be a beggar that canna say no.
Subject(s): Morality; Ethics

AMONG the quaint maxims come down from our fathers,
The fruit of experience rather than art,
Round which as you ponder, thought after thought gathers,
Sinks into the memory, and will not depart;
I single out one that may comfort or chide us --
May steady the careless, and quicken the slow,
Is pregnant with meaning to guard and to guide us;
"He'll soon be a beggar that canna say No."

For round you will cluster the idle and thriftless,
Who seek not for good, or but faintly pursue it,
Who love to do nothing, the lazy and shiftless,
And beg your assistance to help them to do it.
As vultures swoop down on a camel that's dying,
While its heart's latest pulses beat faintly and low,
So knaves hover round the too-weakly complying,
Who fail in decision, and fear to say No.

The rascal whose story you failed in rejecting --
Of hunger and hardship, and sparseness of wealth,
The while on your goodness you're sweetly reflecting,
Within the next taproom is drinking your health.
Those fasts that would match Dr. Tanner to show them,
And those better days that he knew long ago,
Dismiss with the hope that again he may know them,
And think of the beggar that canna say No.

The wife whose sick husband robs life of enjoyment,
And drives her abroad a subsistence to win;
The poor working-man who is out of employment,
Because his last thought is the wish to get in;
The blessing of those who are ready to perish
Upon you with gladness should gratefully flow;
But fear not when needful the spirit to cherish,
That prompts you to answer, a good honest No.

Beware of the vicious, the scheming, the greedy;
The life of the loafer's the star of their hope;
A dole unto one may be help to the needy --
The need of another the end of a rope.
That the true man may prosper, the rogue may be branded,
So live -- though the flippant may note it as slow;
And think of the thousands of lives that are stranded
For lack of the courage to boldly say No.

Be wary of friendship that gently incites you,
And pause and consider as over a brink;
When merely as formal it kindly invites you,
To write your cognomen in graphic black ink.
And if in your care a young life is expanding
To youth in its brightness of fervour and glow,
With intelligence teach, without blindly commanding,
The duty of Yes and the merit of No.

'Tis said in Italian, a good reputation,
Is like to the cypress that grows on the plain;
Cut down it is gone past rehabiliation,
And never can grow into green leaf again.
So when you are tried, let this motto suffice you,
It comes from the fountain where wisdom doth flow:
My children, consent not, when sinners entice you,
He'll soon be a beggar that canna say No.

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