If I were sent to represent
   A portion of a nation,
I would not chat on this and that
   In the halls of legislation.
To show my power, I'd waste no hour
   In aimless talk and bother,
Nor fritter away a precious day
   On this, and that, and the other;

Whether the food a dog consumes
   Wouldn't make a porker fatter;*
And about a thousand aimless things
   Of no import or matter;
Whether each day a man should pray*
   For our welfare or shouldn't.
Now, I do not SAY men DO this way,
   I merely say I wouldn't:

No! were I sent to represent
   A State, or town, or county,
I'd do some good, and all I could
   To earn the people's bounty.
Instead of a dog or a fattening hog,
   I'd talk about men's drinking,
And with words of fire, I would inspire
   The stolid and unthinking.

And the time that I might idly waste
   (I didn't say men do waste it),
I'd spend in pleading for my cause;
   And with tongue and pen I'd haste it
Through all the land, till a mighty band,
   With laws and legislation,
Should cleanse the stain, and cut the chain
   That binds our helpless nation.

And little need would there be then,
   When that bright sun had risen,
Of asylum wings or building sites,
   Of county or State prison.
The need is made by the liquor trade!
   O ye wise, sage law-makers!
'Tis the fiend you smile upon that makes
   Our madmen and law-breakers.

"Two-thirds"--so reads our State Report--
   Are made insane through liquor.
And so I say, I'd spend no day
   In idle talk or bicker,
If I were sent to represent
   A portion of a nation;
But I'd plead for laws, until my cause
   Was won through legislation.

*A certain legislative body spent hours in discussing such trivial matters.

Drops of Water: Poems by Ella Wheeler
New York : The National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1872.

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