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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Johann Peter Hebel (1760–1826)

The Guide-Post

Translation of Bayard Taylor

D’YE know the road to th’ barrel o’ flour?

At break o’ day let down the bars,

And plow y’r wheat-field, hour by hour,

Till sundown,—yes, till shine o’ stars.

You peg away the livelong day,

Nor loaf about, nor gape around;

And that’s the road to the thrashin’-floor,

And into the kitchen, I’ll be bound!

D’ye know the road where dollars lay?

Follow the red cents, here and there;

For if a man leaves them, I guess

He won’t find dollars anywhere.

D’ye know the road to Sunday’s rest?

Jist don’t o’ week-days be afeard;

In field and workshop do y’r best,

And Sunday comes itself, I’ve heerd.

On Saturdays it’s not fur off,

And brings a basketful o’ cheer,—

A roast, and lots o’ garden-stuff,

And, like as not, a jug o’ beer!

D’ye know the road to poverty?

Turn in at every tavern-sign;

Turn in,—’tis temptin’ as can be:

There’s bran’-new cards and liquor fine.

In the last tavern there’s a sack;

And when the cash y’r pocket quits,

Jist hang the wallet on y’r back—

You vagabond! see how it fits!

D’ye know what road to honor leads,

And good old age? a lovely sight!

By ways o’ temperance, honest deeds,

And tryin’ to do y’r dooty right.

And when the road forks, ary side,

And you’re in doubt which one it is,

Stand still, and let y’r conscience guide:

Thank God, it can’t lead much amiss!

And now, the road to church-yard gate

You needn’t ask! Go anywhere!

For, whether roundabout or straight,

All roads, at last, ’ll bring you there.

Go, fearin’ God, but lovin’ more!

I’ve tried to be an honest guide;—

You’ll find the grave has got a door,

And somethin’ for you t’other side.