“SOMETHING to do, mamma, something to do!”
Who has not heard the cry?
Something to plan and something to try!
Something to do when the sky is blue,
And the sun is clear and high;
Something to do on a rainy day,
Tired of lessons or tired of play;
Something to do in the morning walk,
Better than merely to stroll and talk.
For the fidgetty feet, oh, something to do,
For the mischievous fingers something too;
For the busy thought in the little brain,
For the longing love of the little heart,
Something easy, and nice, and plain;
Something in which they can all take part;
Something better than breakable toys,
Something for girls and something for boys!
I know, I know, and I’ll tell you too,
Something for all of you now to do!
First, you must listen! Do you know
Where the poor sick children go?
Think of hundreds all together
In the pleasant summer weather,
Lying sadly day by day,
Having pain instead of play;
No, dear mother sitting near,
No papa to kiss good night;
Brothers, sisters, playmates dear,
All away and out of sight.
Little feet that cannot go
Where the pink-tipped daisies grow;
Little eyes that never see
Bud or blossom, bird or tree,
Little hands that folded lie
As the weary weeks go by.
What if you could send them flowers
Brightening up the dismal hours?
Then the hospitals for others,
For the fathers and the mothers;
Where the weary sufferers lie
While the weeks go slowly past,
Some with hope of cure at last,
Some to suffer till they die.
Now, while you are scampering free,
In your happy springtide glee,
They are lying sadly there,
Weak and sick,–Oh, don’t you care?
Don’t you want to cheer each one?
Don’t you wish it could be done?
Then the poor old people too,
In the dreary workhouse-room,
Nothing all day long to do,
Nothing to light up the gloom!
Older, weaker every day,
All their children gone away;
Nothing pleasant, nothing bright,
For the dimming aching sight.
Would it not be nice to send
Nosegays by some loving friend?
Then if you could only see
Where so many thousands live,
All in sin and misery,
Dirt and noise and poverty
What, oh what, would you not give,
Just some little thing to do
That might do a little good!
Don’t you want to help them too?
I will tell you how you could!
Gather flowers for Jesus’ sake,
For a loving hand to take
Into all those dreadful places,
Bringing smiles to haggard faces,
Bringing tears to hardened eyes;
Bringing back the memories
Of the home so long ago
Left for wickedness and woe,
Of the time so far away
When they learnt to sing and pray.
Oh, you cannot guess the power
Of a little simple flower!
And yet the message they should bear,
Of God our Father’s love and care,
Is never really read aright
Without the Holy Spirit’s light;–
Without the voice of Jesus, heard
In His own sweet and mighty word.
And so we never send the flowers
With only messages of ours;
But every group of buds and bells
The story of salvation tells.
Let every little nosegay bring
Not only fragrance of the spring,
But sweeter fragrance of His Name,
Who saves and pardons, soothes and heals,
The living Saviour, still the Same,
Who every pain and sorrow feels.
The little texts are sweeter far
Than lily-bell or primrose star;
And He will help you just to choose
The very words that He will use.
Now will it not be real delight
To find them out and make a list
Of promise-words, so strong and bright,
So full of comfort and of light,
That all their meaning can’t be missed?
Think how every one may be
God’s own message from above
To some little girl or boy,
Changing sadness into joy,
Soothing some one’s dreadful pain,
Making some one glad again,
With His comfort and His love!
Calling them to Jesus’ feet,
Showing them what He has done!
Darlings, will it not be sweet
If He blesses only one!
Only one? Nay ask Him still,
Ask Him every one to bless!
He can do it, and He will;
Do not let us ask Him less!
Now then, set to work at once,
If you’re not a thorough dunce!
Cut the little holders squarely;
Keep the edges smooth and straight:
Now the paint box: artists bold,
Paint the borders firm and fairly
With your prettiest red or gold!
Easy this, at any rate.
Now for writing–clearest, neatest.
(Or it may be gently hinted,
Better still, if neatly printed.)
Tracing words the strongest, sweetest,–
Words that must and will avail,
Though the loveliest blossoms fail.
Then away, away, the first fne day!
Follow the breeze that is out at play,
Follow the bird and follow the bee,
Follow the butterfly flitting free,
For I think they know
Where the sweetest wildflowers grow;
Bluebells in the shady dingle,
Where the violet odours mingle;
Where the fairy primrose lamp
Seems to light the hawthorn shade;
Orchis in the meadow damp,
Cowslip in the sunny glade.
(But not the pale anemone,
For that will fade so speedily.)
Hedge and coppice, lane and field;
Gather all the store they yield!
Buttercups and daisies too,
Though so little prized by you,
Will be gold and silver treasure
In their power of giving pleasure
To the poor in city alleys,
Far away from hills and valleys,
Who have never seen them grow
Since their childhood, long ago;
Or to children pale and small,
Who never saw them grow at all!
And don’t forget the fair green leaves
That have their own sweet tales to tell,
And waving grass that humbly weaves
The emerald robe of bank and dell.
Is there some one at home who cannot go
To gather the flowers as they grow?
Then there is plenty for her to do
In making the nosegays up for you;
Getting them ready to travel away,
In time for the work of the coming day.
But oh how busy you will be
When the packing must be done;
Oh the bustle and the glee,
Will it not be famous fun!
And when the box is gone away
The pleasure need not all be past;
I think it will not be the last!
Just set to work another day,
And send some more
From the beautiful store
Which God keeps sending out fresh and new,
And thank Him too
That He has given you “SOMETHING TO DO!”
–Frances Ridley Havergal from BEN BRIGHTBOOTS