05 February 2009

To My Ancestors

I see you toiling down the tedious years
You bearded, bent, and gaunt old pioneers
Sowing and reaping, sowing once again,
In patience for an unborn race of men.

I see you struggling in the wilderness
Where failure meant starvation and success.
A cabin in the clearing, roughhewn, rude,
Garments of homespun, and the humblest food.

Tradition scarcely tells me whence you came,
I only know a few of you by name;
I only know you lived and multiplied,
Quite profligate in progeny, and died.

Yet in my heart, I know that most of you
Were strong and steadfast, and that one or two
At least, had weaknesses that still may be
Traced in the trend of atavistic me.

One, I am sure, was blest with Irish wit;
(I'm thankful he transmitted some of it.)
That helped him dodge Dame Fortune's swiftest dart,
And meet misfortune with a merry heart.

One was a rather worthless wight, I fear,
Who, when the bluebird whistled Spring was near,
Forsook his plow--a shiftless, sluggard one--
And roamed the woods alone, with rod and gun.

And one a gentle dreamer was I know,
Who lured by shadows, let the substance go.
'Twas he who dared the raging western sea--
I'm glad he handed down his dreams to me.

I found this poem in a family history book that my Mother's cousin had started. The caption reads, "From Chicago Tribune Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Bulletin #4 November 13. 1937"