If (If I were sent to represent...)
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
If I were sent to represent
A portion of a nation
I would not chat, on this and that,
In the halls of legislation.
To show my power, I'd waste no hour
In aimless talk and bother,
Nor fritter away a precious day
On this and that and the other.
Whether the food a dog consumes
Wouldn't make a porker fatter,
And about a thousand useless things,
Of no import or matter --
Whether each day a man should pray
For our welfare, or shouldn't.
Now I do not say men do this way;
I merely say I wouldn't!
No! were I sent to represent
A state, or town, or county,
I'd do some good, and all I could,
To earn the people's bounty.
Instead of a dog, or a fattening hog,
I'd talk about men's drinking!
And, with words of fire, I would inspire
The stolid and unthinking.
And the time that I might idly waste,
(I don't say men do waste it),
I'd spend in pleading for my cause,
And, with tongue and pen, I'd haste it
Through all the land, till a mighty band,
With laws and legislation,
Should cleanse the stain and cut the chain
That binds our helpless nation.
And little need would there be then,
When that bright sun had risen,
Of asylum wings or building sites --
Of county or State prison.
The need is made by the liquor trade!
Oh, ye wise, sage law-makers,
'Tis the friend you smile upon that makes
Our madmen and law-breakers.
Source:Poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox
W.P. Nimmo, Hay, and Mitchell, Edinburgh