Manners by Elizabeth Bishop
Manners by Elizabeth Bishop elizabeth bishop stories

classicpoet Poetry from the Masters
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For a Child of 1918 My grandfather said to me

Manners by Elizabeth Bishop

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 grandfather's 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;

don't 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 he's well brought up. See, he answers

nicely when he's spoken to.

Man or beast, that's good manners.

Be sure that you both always do."

When automobiles went by,

the dust hid the people's 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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