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Each day, Newspaper History presents a poem that appeared in an American Newspaper 108 years ago.

The Blessings of Hard Times

From The Topeka State Journal, November 23, 1914. By James J. Montague.

When Farmer Jones’ Berkshire hog was living on the farm
His personality was gross, his manner had no charm;
He daily wallowed in the mud, he guzzled from his trough,
And grew a mass of embonpoint which nothing could take off.
And while his body waxed so great that he could hardly crawl,
His brains became so dull and thick he couldn’t think at all.

But when one day the farm burned down, the Berkshire hog got loose,
And had to put his thickening brains to very active use.
Nobody came to feed him now; he had to hustle ‘round,
And use his nerve and judgement to provide his daily found.
And soon new muscles thewed his flanks instead of flabby fat,
And his once soggy countenance became worth looking at.

There is no startling moral to this tale of Jones’s swine,
Except that when one has to work before one sits to dine,
And has to keep expenses down, the life he learns to lead
Is pretty sure to keep his brains from running all to seed.
And though no doubt it will surprise a lot of soft-raised men,
A little pinch of poverty won’t hurt them—now and then.


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