Betty tried hard to do
All that God asked her to,
Which, being such and such,
Was not so very much,
Nor would be much again,
Seeing she died at ten.

And of that half a score,
Three years or little more
Were all she really spent
Being intelligent —
By which I mean to say,
In an authentic way.

From that three take a third
For sleep: upon my word,
This leaves but two years out
Often to talk about!

Divide that two in half
To let her play and laugh,
Run errands for her mother,
And mind her little brother:
Then cut from that schedule
Almost a year for school, —
How long a period
Have we got left for God?

Allow this little maid,
When she knelt down and prayed,
Some suitable subtractions
For her small mind’s distractions: —
Maybe one day is all
One could compose and call
Strictly devotional.

Peace, darling!, do not frown
Looking from Heaven down
At my crude computation
Of your sweet soul’s salvation!

One day was quite enough;
Blow out your candle — puff! —
That burnt so pure and bright
One morning, noon and night,
And gave for God’s delight
Twenty-four hours’ worth
Of perfect praise on Earth!

From Boundaries