By Phoebe Cary 1824–1871 Phoebe Cary
Suppose, my little lady,
      Your doll should break her head,
Could you make it whole by crying
      Till your eyes and nose are red?
And would n’t it be pleasanter
      To treat it as a joke;
And say you ’re glad “’T was Dolly’s
      And not your head that broke?”

Suppose you ’re dressed for walking,
      And the rain comes pouring down,
Will it clear off any sooner
      Because you scold and frown?
And would n’t it be nicer
      For you to smile than pout,
And so make sunshine in the house
      When there is none without?

Suppose your task, my little man,
      Is very hard to get,
Will it make it any easier
      For you to sit and fret?
And would n’t it be wiser
      Than waiting like a dunce,
To go to work in earnest
      And learn the thing at once?

Suppose that some boys have a horse,
      And some a coach and pair,
Will it tire you less while walking
      To say, “It is n’t fair?”
And would n’t it be nobler
      To keep your temper sweet,
And in your heart be thankful
      You can walk upon your feet?

And suppose the world don’t please you,
      Nor the way some people do,
Do you think the whole creation
      Will be altered just for you?
And is n’t it, my boy or girl,
      The wisest, bravest plan,
Whatever comes, or does n’t come,
      To do the best you can?

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Poet Phoebe Cary 1824–1871


Subjects Living, Youth

Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza


The sisters ALICE (1820—1871) and PHOEBE CARY (1824—1871) grew up on a farm near Cincinnati, Ohio, in an area later immortalized by Alice’s Clovernook stories. There they immersed themselves in the classics of literature under the tutelage of an older sister whose death in 1833 affected them deeply. Although both published poems while still teenagers, it wasn’t until 1850, after their work had been noticed by such luminaries . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Youth


Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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