ONE day, as I have heard it said, 

It chanced a rag and bit of lead 

Lay in the kennel snug together 

In very wet and muddy weather. 

The rag was soiled and old and torn; 

The bit of lead was bruised and worn, 

Two waifs, whose worth, at full account, 

Was of such very small amount 

They well together might remain 

To hide the pelting of the rain.

Yet low as was their present state, 

They both had known a better fate. 

The rag had once been whole and white, 

In every way had pleased the sight; 

And, in its time, had helped adorn 

A bride upon her wedding-morn; 

Lent to her figure and her face 

An added though unneeded grace, 

Nor thought such parting and distress 

Could e'er befall a wedding-dress. 

The piece of lead could not forget 

Its fortunes had been nobler yet; 

For, molded well for use of one 

Who was his country's faithful son, 

It had though that was long ago 

Been sped against his country's foe, 

And, guided by unerring hand, 

Had stretched him lifeless on the sand.

There came a man with hook and bag, 

And took away the lead and rag; 

And both were to a shop consigned, 

With many others of their kind. 

When winter passed, and summer came, 

The former rag had changed its name 

To paper, and it might avow 

It ne'er had been so white as now. 

Meanwhile, the lead, so long despised. 

Was altered so 'twas highly prized; 

For, melted, purified, and cast, 

It was a printer's type at last. 

They now, in this, their new condition, 

Were put into their old position; 

Drawn closer than before, to kiss, 

And find their apotheosis.

What greater immortality 

Than helping Genius not to die?

Scribner's Magazine