Checking the Day

Edgar Guest


"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