Checking the Day
"I had a full day in my purse
When I arose, and now it's gone!
I wonder if I can rehearse
The squandered hours, one by one,
And count the minutes as I do
The pennies and the dimes I've spent.
I've had a day, once bright and new,
But, oh, for what few things it went!
There were twelve hours when I began,
Good hours worth sixty minutes each,
Yet some of them so swiftly ran
I had no time for thought or speech.
Eight of them to my task I gave,
Glad that it did not ask for mre.
Part of the day I tried to save,
But now I cannot say what for.
An hour I spent for idle chat,
Gossip and scandal I confess;
No better off am I for that,
Would I had talked a little less.
I watched steel workers bolt a beam,
What time that cost I don't recall.
How very short the minutes seem
When they are spent on trifles small.
Quite empty is my purse to-night
Which held at dawn a twelve-hour day,
For all of it has taken flightó
Part wisely spent, part thrown away.
I did my task and earned its gain,
But checking deeds with what they cost,
Two missing hours I can't explain,
They must be charges as lost."
From Collected Verse of Edgar Guest
NY:Buccaneer Books, 1976, pg. 660