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The Spider and the Fly,
a fable, by Mary Howitt

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”

“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the spider to the fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in.”

“O no, no,” said the little fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed.”

Said the cunning spider to the fly, “Dear friend, what shall I do,
To prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome; will you please to take a slice?”

“O no, no,” said the little fly, “kind sir, that cannot be;
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see.”

“Sweet creature!” said the spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”

“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say,
And bidding you good-morning now, I’ll call another day.”

The spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly fly would soon be back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the fly.

Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with the pearl and silver wing:
Your robes are green and purple; there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead.”

Alas, alas! How very soon this silly little fly,
Hearing his wily flattering words, came slowly flitting by.

With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head-poor foolish thing!  At last,
Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast.

He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlor; but she ne’er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed;
Unto an evil counselor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

Rusty

Keep a-Goin’
Frank L. Stanton

If you strike a thorn or rose,
Keep a-goin’!
If it hails or if it snows,
Keep a -goin’!
‘Taint no use to sit an’ whine
When the fish ain’t on your line;
Bait your hook an’ keep a-tryin’—
Keep a-goin’!

When the weather kills your crop,
Keep a-goin’!
Though ‘tis work to reach the top,
Keep a-goin’!
S’pose you’re our o’ ev’ry dime,
Gittin’ broke ain’t any crime;
Tell the world you’re feelin’ prime—
Keep a-goin’!

When it looks like all is up,
Keep a-goin’!
Drain the sweetness from the cup,
Keep a-goin’!
See the wild birds on the wing,
Hear the bells that sweetly ring,
When you feel like surgin’, sing—
Keep a-goin’!

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Be Strong
Maltbie Davenport Babcock

Be strong,
we are not here to play, to dream to drift
we have hard work to do, and loads to lift
shun not the struggle, face it, ’tis Gods gift.

Be strong,
say not the days are evil, who’s to blame
and fold the hands of aquiesce, oh shame
stand up, speak out, and boldly in Gods name.

Be strong,
It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong
how hard the battle goes, the day how long
faint not, fight on, tomorrow comes the song.

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A Psalm of Life
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!–
for the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

 Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul. 

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

 Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

 In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife! 

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, –act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again. 

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still persuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

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In association with “It is what you make of it” and “The Builders“, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, here’s another beautiful poem supporting the same point.

Life Sculpture
George Washington Doane

Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy
With his marble block before him,
And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,
As an angel-dream passed o’er him.

He carved the dream on that shapeless stone,
With many a sharp incision;
With heaven’s own light the sculpture shone,–
He’d caught that angel-vision.

Children of life are we, as we stand
With our lives uncarved before us,
Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
Our life-dream shall pass o’er us. 

If we carve it then on the yielding stone,
With many a sharp incision,
Its heavenly beauty shall be our own,–
Our lives, that angel-vision.

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In relationship with this post (What are you building?), the following poem is both enlightening and inspiring.

The Builders
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All are architects of fate,
Working in these walls of time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
some with ornaments of rhyme.

Nothing useless is, or low;
each thing in its place is best;
and what seems but idle show
strengthens and supports the rest.

For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
our todays and yesterdays
are the blocks with which we build.

Truly shape and fashion these;
Leave no yawning gaps between;
think not, because no man sees,
such things will remain unseen.

In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.

Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house where gods may dwell
Beautiful, entire, and clean.

Else our live are incomplete,
Standing in these walls of Time,
Brokensatairways, where the feet
Stumble, as they seek to climb.

Build today, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
Shall tomorrow find its place.

Thus alone can we attain
To those turrets, where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain,
And one boundless reach of sky.

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I have this funny memory of when I was 10 years old.  I lived (at that time) in Marion Montana with my mom and second step-dad.  We had this aluminum wood shed out back, just between the house and the forest.

I spent a lot of time here, chopping firewood to keep the house warm.  One day I was outside and for some reason (I’m sure it wasn’t malicious), I stuck the ax into shed.  Just swung it over my head and “whump”, it sunk into the metal and left this huge hole. 

In awe over how cool that felt, I tried it again.  And again.  And again. 

Bored now, I stepped farther back, and tried now to throw the ax and make it stick.  Several times I succeeded, but I left some mark with each try.  Soon I was ducking and weaving like an Indian between trees, finding an opening, and swoosh… my ax would fly through the air and find the shed.  Yeah, okay, I was an idiot, and I must have looked ridiculous.

It sure was fun while it lasted.  But then it wasn’t so fun. 

Sometimes we do things that cause damage.  Sometimes it’s to ourselves, and sometimes it’s to others.  What matters most, is that you correct your course early and often, and rely on the Mercy of the Lord for the rest.

There’s a poem I’ve always loved that addresses it nicely:

Fools Prayer
Edward R. Sill

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: 
“Sir Fool,Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

 He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the monarch’s silken stool;
His pleading voice arose:  “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

“No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: 
but, Lord,Be merciful to me, a fool!

 ‘Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

 “These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend. 

“the ill-timed truth we might have kept-
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say-
Who knows how grandly it had rung? 

“Our faults no tenderness should ask,
the chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunder-oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall. 

“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!” 

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”