Were I to write a story,
A pers'nal history
From back in the Eighteen Eighties
To Nineteen Fifty-three;
'Twould take a lot of thinking
To go back through the years,
And recount the joyful happ'nings
And somehow skip the tears.

I would board the ship of mem'ry
And sail back through the past
To distant port of childhood,
And ne'er an anchor cast
'Til scanning clear but distant shore,
A clean, soul-stirring view;
A harbor peaceful and serene,
With loyal, loving crew.

I would see our mother's garden
And the stable to the west;
I would see the curb and bucket
Slake the thirst of ev'ry guest;
I would see the sweep of valley
To the east and contemplate
The great world yet undiscovered,
Just outside the old "Big Gate".

I would see another farm-house
To the north and on a hill;
Would discern a homely beauty,
And my heart would sense a thrill;
For somehow when we had entered,
We'd achieved a certain goal;
For we'd brought with us our birth-place.
A mere house acquired a soul.

I would see our friends and neighbors,
North and South and East and West;
Not perfection, few nor any,
But in large part we were blest,
For our lives were built on tol'rance,
Bad or good or weak or strong;
For we knew our own shortcomings -
Sometimes right, but often wrong.

I would see the creek at floodtime,
Or a chain of water-holes;
I would see the tiny mountains
Made by desecrating moles.
I would see sleet-laden maples,
For they had to pay the price
As they drooped in ghostly beauty
Stalactites of sugared ice.

H. B. Austin