If all the troubles in the world
    Were traced back to their start,
We'd find not one in ten begun
    From want of willing heart.
But there's a sly, woe-working elf
    Who lurks about youth's brink,
And sure dismay he brings alway--
    The elf, 'I didn't think.'

He seems so sorry when he's caught;
    His mien is all contrite;
He so regrets the woe he wrought,
    And wants to make things right.
But wishes do not heal a wound
    Or weld a broken link;
The heart aches on, the link is gone,
    All through--'I didn't think.'

I half believe that ugly sprite,
    Bold, wicked, 'I don't care,'
In life's long run less harm has done
    Because he is so rare;
And one can be so stern with him,
    Can make the monster shrink;
But, lack a day, what can we say
    To whining 'Didn't think'?

This most unpleasant imp of strife
    Pursues us everywhere.
There's scarcely one whole day of life
    He does not cause us care;
Small woes and great he brings the world,
    Strong ships are forced to sink,
And trains from iron track are hurled, alack,
    By stupid 'Didn't think.'

When brain is comrade to the heart,
    And heart from soul draws grace,
'I didn't think' will quick depart
    For lack of resting-place.
If from that great, unselfish stream,
    The Golden Rule we drink,
We'll keep God's laws, and have no cause
    To say 'I didn't think.'

Yesterdays. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1916.

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