The Important Thing

He was playing in the garden when we called him in for tea,
But he didn't seem to hear us, so I went out there to see
What the little rogue was up to, and I stooped and asked him why,
When he heard his mother calling, he had made her no reply.
'I am playing war,' he told me, 'and I'm up against defeat,
And until I stop the Germans I can't take the time to eat.'

'Isn't supper so important that you'll quit your round of play?
Don't you want to eat the shortcake mother made for you to-day?'
Then I asked him, but he answered as he shook his little head:
'I don't dare to stop for shortcake, if I do they'll kill me dead!
When I drive them from their trenches, then to supper I'll come in,
But I mustn't stop a minute, 'cause this war I've got to win.'

I left him in his battle, left him there to end his play,
For he'd taught to me a lesson that is needed much to-day;
Not the lure of cake could turn him from the work he had to do;
There was nothing so important as to see his struggle through.
And I wondered all that evening, as he slumbered in his bed
If we'd risen to the meaning of the work that lies ahead?

Are we roused to the importance of the danger in our way?
Are we thinking still of pleasures as we thought but yesterday?
Are our comforts and our riches in our minds still uppermost?
Must we wait, to see our danger, till the foe is on our coast?
Oh, there's nothing so important, nothing now that's worth a pin
Save the war that we are fighting. It's a war we've got to win.

by Edgar Albert Guest

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