Monday, November 25, 2013

"The Fresh Aid Fund" by Lucy H. Batt (1919)

The Fresh Air Fund.


A miser sat in his armchair, his wealth before him lay,

Had you been within hearing distance, you might have heard him say

"'T is easy enough to be happy while your wealth you recount o'er,"

But somehow the clink of the metal sounded stranger than ever before.

The gold had lost its glimmer, the silver seemed turned to lead,

And the heart of the hardened miser like a soul that was empty and dead;

Still he counted, and piled, and chuckled, rubbing his hands with glee,

Then stopped awhile to question—Can it be they are speaking to me?

Deep down in the coffers he forced them, crowding and shaking them 'round,

And even as he choked them, kept hearing the strangest sound.

Then drawing his purse-strings tighter, he wound them and tied them about,

While a faint voice seemed to be crying "Let us out! Let us out! Let us out!"

All the night through it kept crying, all the next day: "Let us out!"

And at evening the cry grew more lusty, demanding the right with a shout;

The miser grew anxious and fearful, then loosed all the silver and gold,

As it fell from the well-filled coffers a tale began to unfold.

The Dollars were fathers and mothers, who grieved for their children in woe;

The Dimes were the tiny babies, who needed the sunshine to grow;

The Quarters were little children, too young to run about

Without the care of others, and they all cried "Keep us out!"

The Halves were the little mothers, bent 'neath their burden of care,

Who craved for the heavenly sunshine, and pure, free, open air.

From the lustreless gold rose a Presence, throwing radiance over all,

And pointed with index finger to the handwriting on the wall,

"Know yet not in My bountiful goodness I have given richly and free;

What you do for the least of My little ones you return tenfold to me."

the light from the gold grew brighter; it played a miraculous part,

For a tiny spark was reflected deep down in the miser's heart.

He awoke from his dreams of avarice, and another sat in his place,

While the light from the gold and silver transfigured the hardened face;

A smile lighted up with new meaning, and through the half-open door

Poured sunshine, and air, and fragrance, making sacred the message they bore.

Then out through the lanes and the alleys a stranger wended his way,

And scattered the rays of lost sunshine, that were hidden for many a day.

To you, to whom much hath been given, and the sands of time nearly run,

You can ease the burdened shoulder of a life that has only begun.

You will lay down your burden more lightly, and enjoy a rapture wild,

Could you be the means of saving the life of some little child.

Or you who have unemployed dollars, some whose hearts with grief have been stunned,

Can you find an object more worthy than The Troy Times Fresh Air Fund?

        June 17, 1919.

Troy Times. June 19, 1919: 19 col 3.

I like the term “unemployed dollars” for hoarded wealth. Indeed, one would think that the more unemployed dollars there are in misers' hoards, the higher unemployment (or wage slavery) might also be?

The Troy Times Fresh Air Fund, I'm supposing, was a version of the famous Fresh Air Fund for New York City children but instead aimed at helping the children of low-income families of Troy.

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