Two harvesters walked through the rows of corn,
Down to the ripe wheat fields, one morn.
Both were fair, in the flush of youth,
With hearts of courage and eyes of truth--
Fair and young, with the priceless wealth
Of strength, and beauty, and glowing health.
Loud and clear was their mellow song
On the morning air, as they strode along.
And the reaper clashed on its yellow track,
And the song of the driver answered back
To the harvesters, as they bound the wheat
That sheaf on sheaf lay at their feet.
High rose the sun o'er the golden plain,
And the binders rested by the grain,
And sitting there, 'neath a friendly shade,
Each quenched the thirst that their labor made;
But one drank from the water mug,
And the other from the whiskey jug.
Back to their tasks went the binders twain,
Binding the sheaves of the yellow grain,
On sped the reaper, to and fro
Slaying the wheat with a cruel blow,
Leaving it slaughtered, rank on rank--
And again the binders paused and drank.
Higher and hotter rose the sun:
On sped the moments, one by one--
And again the binders stopped and quaffed
From the mug and the jug a cooling draught.
And slowly, slowly they bound the wheat
As the sun shone down with its scorching heat.
Slower, still slower, one youth goes round:
He falls--he lieth upon the ground.
A cry for help, and the workmen come
And carry their stricken comrade home.
"And one is taken, and one is left."
Weepeth the mother, "I am bereft."
One youth alone, on another morn,
Walks to the field through the rows of corn.
He who drank of the sparkling tide
Walketh still in his manhood's pride;
But he who drank from the jug lies low,
Dead, in the morn of his manhood's glow.
Drops of Water: Poems by Ella Wheeler
New York : The National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1872.
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