Leaving the Homestead by Unknown Author

You’re going to leave the homestead, John,
You’re twenty-one to-day:
And very sorry am I, John,
To see you go away.
You’ve labored late and early, John,
And done the best you could;
I ain’t going to stop you, John,
I wouldn’t if I could.

Yet something of your feelings, John,
I s’pose I’d ought to know,
Though many a day has passed away—
‘Twas forty years ago—
When hope was high within me, John,
And life lay all before,
That I, with strong and measured stroke,
“Cut loose” and pulled from shore.

The years they come and go, my boy,
The years they come and go;
And raven locks and tresses brown
Grow white as driven snow.
My life has known its sorrows, John,
Its trials and troubles sore;
Yet God withal has blessed me, John,
“In basket and in store.”

But one thing let me tell you, John,
Before you make a start,
There’s more in being honest, John,
Twice o’er than being smart.
Though rogues may seem to flourish, John,
And sterling worth to fail,
Oh! keep in view the good and true;
‘Twill in the end prevail.

Don’t think too much of money, John,
And dig and delve and plan,
And rake and scrape in every shape,
To hoard up all you can.
Though fools may count their riches, John,
In dollars and in cents,
The best of wealth is youth and health,
And good sound common sense.

And don’t be mean and stingy, John,
But lay a little by
Of what you earn; you soon will learn
How fast ’twill multiply.
So when old age comes creeping on,
You’ll have a goodly store
Of wealth to furnish all your needs—
And maybe something more.

There’s shorter cuts to fortune, John,
We see them every day;
But those who save their self-respect
Climb up the good old way.
“All is not gold that glitters,” John,
And makes the vulgar stare,
And those we deem the richest, John,
Have oft the least to spare.

Don’t meddle with your neighbors, John,
Their sorrows or their cares;
You’ll find enough to do, my boy,
To mind your own affairs.
The world is full of idle tongues—
You can afford to shirk!
There’s lots of people ready, John,
To do such dirty work.

And if amid the race for fame
You win a shining prize,
The humbler work of honest men
You never should despise;
For each one has his mission, John,
In life’s unchanging plan—
Though lowly be his station, John,
He is no less a man.

Be good, be pure, be noble, John;
Be honest, brave, be true;
And do to others as you would
That they should do to you;
And put your trust in God, my boy,
Though fiery darts be hurled;
Then you can smile at Satan’s rage,
And face a frowning world.

Good-by! May Heaven guard and bless
Your footsteps day by day;
The old house will be lonesome, John,
When you are gone away.
The cricket’s song upon the hearth
Will have a sadder tone;
The old familiar spots will be
So lonely when you’re gone.