Whitby Writers Group

a self-help writers co-operative

What is a boy?

The things that you have started
he’s the one to carry on.
The things you think important
he’ll attend to when you’re gone.

Your strategies and policies –
adopt them as you may;
but how they’re to be carried out
depends upon his say.

Your treaties and alliances
to last for thirty years –
he’ll be the one to manage them,
to prove your hopes or fears.

Your safest seat in Parliament;
your Master of the Roll;
your prisons, schools and companies –
of these he’ll take control.

The labours of your lifetime;
the fruits of all you dream
are subject to his arbitrage
to praise or to condemn.

Raise statues in your honour –
or your memory deride?
Your stock until the crack of doom
will be his to decide.

The goals of your endeavour;
the aims of all your toil;
are naught but complications
to his tilling of clean soil.

The destiny of nations;
the fate of all the lands;
the future of humanity
rests solely in his hands.

So look up from your playthings –
the schemes with which you toy –
and pay him some attention,
though he’s nothing but a boy.

by Clark Nida
based on a prose-poem sometimes attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

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