Keep The Mill A-Going

By Thomas Dunn English

I stood and watched a schoolboy group
Today upon the smooth ice sliding,
An as with laughter, jeer and whoop
The little fold went gayly gliding,
I heard one shaver in the crowd,
His hands and arms in glee up-throwing,
Cry, in a shrilly tone and loud:
“Boys, keep the mill a-going!”

O, young philosopher; be such
Your motto through you whole existence,
And none will beat you running much,
Though rough the road and long the distance;
And few will pass you in the race,
However loud may be their crowing,
Provided you in every case
Should keep the mill a-going.

Though earnest efforts seem to fail,
And all look dark and dense before you,
Don’t think your work of no avail,
Don’t fall or falter, I implore you.
Though others weary grow of toil
No profit at the moment showing
Your hopes by no inaction spoil,
But keep the mill a-going.

Perchance the idle and the rude
May greet with scorn or sneer your labors,
Your aim be strangely misconstrued
By thoughtless friends or envious neighbors;
But keep within your spirit deep
The flame of hope and courage glowing;
Your honest purpose active keep,
And keep the mill a-going.

Though times be hard, and want be here,
And toiling be but ill-rewarded,
A just requital, not to fear,
Will yet be for your work accorded.
In days to come your bins you’ll reap
With grain well brown from careful sowing;
Wait till the crop is ripe to reap,
And keep the mill a-going.

Should malice strike you with it’s dart,
Should envy in your pathway follow,
Should slander pierce you in the heart,
Should friends’ professions prove but hollow,
These all exhaust themselves at length –
Fierce blasts are not forever blowing;
Keep up your nerve, keep up your strength,
And keep the mill a-going.

They win the most who win by care
And patient toil and purpose steady;
The tortoise often beats the hare,
For swiftness is not always ready,
Less good from genius we may find
Then that from perseverance flowing;
So have good grist at hand to grind,
And keep the mill a-going.

Requested by H.E.M., Wellesley, Mass


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