The Boy Next Door
THERE used to be a boy next door
Whom I often have longed to throttle;
I've wished a thousand times and more
That he had died while "on the bottle"!
Oft in the past it has been hard
For me to check my inclination,
When he had cluttered up our yard,
To hand him heavy castigation.
With freckles on his tilted nose
And ears that far in space protruded,
He was not one, as heaven knows,
To whom I in my prayers alluded.
Derisively he showed his tongue
And scorned the warnings which I gave him,
But now I list myself among
The ones who pray the Lord to save him.
How vividly I can recall
Him at the window, making faces;
I used to think that in him all
The impish traits had lurking places.
He stole the green fruit from my trees,
Not caring how it might affect him;
Today he's fighting overseas,
And may the God of hosts protect him!
From childhood into youth he passed,
And then my little garden flourished;
And still his friendship was not classed
Among the treasures which I nourished.
He tortured first a slide tombone,
And next he tried a squeaky fiddle;
His voice took on a raucous tone
That used to rasp me down the middle.
How soldierly our lad appeared
When with his comrades he departed!
I wonder if he knew I cheered,
Or guessed that I was heavy--hearted.
If I have damned him heretofore
I now retract each foul aspersion
God bless the boy who lived next door,
And used to be my pet aversion!
W. D. Eaton, ed. Great Poems of the World War. Chicago: T.S. Denison & Company, 1922.