Toil's Sweet Content

Sam Walter Foss


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Synposis: We may categorize all the people in the world into two groups based on their philosophy.

In the first group are the majority of people who want results but don't want to do the hard work that is required to get the results. The attitude of a person of this group is characterized as follows:

  1. His mental reach, his ambition is limited to getting a high paying job that allows him plenty of rest and entertainment.

  2. He likes comfort and safety. Bold ideas, for this man, are risk-ridden and the work of foolish minds. It's better to be safe.

  3. The thing to look forward to in life is the 5% increment that he hopes he will get in the next appraisal cycle, the movies he has to watch tonight, the pizza corner that he visits twice every month to spend his salary on, the local pub, and the fortnightly movie at the cinema theatre. And may be a new pair of clothes and shoes every now and then. And definitely that nice electronic gadget. And lots of rest and relaxation.

  4. If things work out for him, that is, if God wills it, and if it is in his destiny, and if he happens to get lucky, sure, why not! he too will want to have nicer things, like a really big house, nice cars, fame, lots of money, etc. But hey, we're not lucky! Only a one in a million people get lucky, man. Those people who've got it all, they're lucky. They're different!

The person belonging to the second category is the dreamer, the risk taker, the goal setter and the goal achiever, the dissatisfied man who is always chasing after some ideal. This guy knows that everyone is the same. The people who are successful are so because they worked for it. And they worked real hard. He has big dreams, wants to fulfill them and will do all it takes to get there, will put in all the hard work required. He knows that in this world, there is no such thing as something for nothing. That success has a price and one must pay it to have it.

This poem is a dialogue between the two types of people. It also has some commentary before the poem recital. Please do listen to the audio. I hope you enjoy it.

The Man of Questions paused and stood
Before the Man of Toil,
And asked, "Are you content, my man,
To dig here in the soil?
Do you not yearn for wealth and fame,
And this wide world to see?"
The Man of Toil still stirred the soil
And answered, "No, sir-ee!"

"Do you not yearn," the Questioner asked,
"To pluck life's higher fruits?"
"Oh, yes," said he, "I'd like, maybe,
Another pair of boots."
"And wouldn't you like a coat to match,
And pantaloons and a hat;
And wouldn't you like to dress as well
As your neighbor Jacob Pratt?"
"Why, I'd have duds as good as Jake,"
The Man of Toil replied;
"Why, I'd have clo'es as good as those
'Fore I'd be satisfied."

"But if Jake ran for selectman
And nothing could defeat him,
How would it do, then, just for you
To step right in and beat him?"
"First-class idee," the Man of Toil
Responded with delight;
"I think I'd make mince-meat of Jake
'Fore we got through the fight."

"And then you'd settle down content?"
"Content? Of Course! I swan!
A man's a hog who asks for more
When he's a sillickman."
"But, sir, our Congress is corrupt
And needs a renovation;
Wouldn't you consent in such event
To take the nomination?"
"Oh yes I'd take the job," said he.
The Questioner arched his eyes,
"Then don't you think the presidency
Would be about your size?
Now after Congress had been cleansed
Beyond a shade of doubt
I think you'd go--you would, I know--
And clean the White House out."

"I'd take the job and do it brown,"
The Man of Toil replied;
"But you hoe corn from morn till night
And still are satisfied."
"Me satisfied! I guess that you
Don't know me," he began--
"Oh, yes, I do, I well know you
You are the Average Man."