(Elizabeth Bishop)






Manners


For a Child of 1918

My grandfather said to me
as we sat on the wagon seat,
Be sure to remember to always
speak to everyone you meet.

We met a stranger on foot.
My grandfathers whip tapped his hat.
Good day, sir. Good day. A fine day.
And I said it and bowed where I sat.

Then we overtook a boy we knew
with his big pet crow on his shoulder.
Always offer everyone a ride;
dont forget that when you get older,

my grandfather said. So Willy
climbed up with us, but the crow
gave a Caw! and flew off. I was worried.
How would he know where to go?

But he flew a little way at a time
from fence post to fence post, ahead;
and when Willy whistled he answered.
A fine bird, my grandfather said,

and hes well brought up. See, he answers
nicely when hes spoken to.
Man or beast, thats good manners.
Be sure that you both always do.

When automobiles went by,
the dust hid the peoples faces,
but we shouted Good day! Good day!
Fine day! at the top of our voices.

When we came to Hustler Hill,
he said that the mare was tired, 
so we all got down and walked,
as our good manners required.






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