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Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Against Idleness and Mischief


              1How doth the little busy Bee
              2    Improve each shining Hour,
              3And gather Honey all the day
              4    From every opening Flower!

              5How skilfully she builds her Cell!
              6    How neat she spreads the Wax!
              7And labours hard to store it well
              8    With the sweet Food she makes.

              9In Works of Labour or of Skill
            10    I would be busy too:
            11For Satan finds some Mischief still
            12    For idle Hands to do.

            13In Books, or Work, or healthful Play
            14    Let my first Years be past,
            15That I may give for every Day
            16    Some good Account at last.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: I. Watts, Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language for the Use of CHILDREN (London: M. Lawrence, 1715), p. 29. See facsimile reproduction, with introduction by J. H. P. Pafford (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), p.177. PR 3763 W37 A65 1971 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1715
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/6

Rhyme: abab


Other poems by Isaac Watts