Songs Of Education: VI. Hygiene

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Form 394411102, Sub-Section X

"All practical Eugenists are agreed on the importance of sleep."--The Eugenic Congress.

  When Science taught mankind to breathe
  A little while ago,
  Only a wise and thoughtful few
  Were really in the know:
  Nor could the Youth his features wreathe,
  Puffing from all the lungs beneath:
  When Duty whispered softly "Breathe!"
  The Youth would answer "Blow!"

  When Science proved with lucid care
  The need of Exercise,
  Our thoughtless Youth was climbing trees
  Or lightly blacking eyes:
  To reckless idlers breaking bounds
  For football or for hare-and-hounds,
  Or fighting hard for fourteen rounds,
  It came as a surprise.

  But when she boldly counsels Sleep
  To persons when in bed,
  Then, then indeed men blush to see
  The daybreak blushing red:
  The early risers whom we term
  Healthy, grow sickly and infirm;
  The Early Bird who caught the Worm
  Will catch the Germ instead.

  For this at least be Science praised
  If all the rest be rot,
  That now she snubs the priggish child
  That quits too soon his cot:
  The pharisaic pachyderm
  Of spiritual pride shall squirm:
  The Early Bird catches the worm,
  The Worm that dieth not.

© Gilbert Keith Chesterton