Eagerly he took my dime,
Then shuffled on his way,
Thick with sin and filth and grime,
But I wondered all that day
How the man had gone astray.
Not to him the dime I gave;
Not unto the man of woe,
Not to him who should be brave,
Not to him who’d sunk so low,
But the boy of long ago.
Passed his years of sin and shame
Through the filth that all could see,
Out of what he is there came
One more pitiful to me:
Came the boy that used to be.
Smiling, full of promise glad,
Stood a baby, like my own;
I beheld a glorious lad,
Someone once had loved and known
Out of which this wreck had grown!
Where, thought I, must lie the blame?
Who has failed in such a way?
As all children come he came,
There’s a soul within his clay;
Who has led his feet astray?
As he shuffled down the hall
With the coin I’d never miss,
What, thought I, were fame and all
Man may gain of earthly bliss,
If my child should come to this!