Thrice foolish youth who spurn’st the kindly hand
That Wisdom proffers, filled with priceless treasure,
How canst thou build life’s structure on that measure
Of thy poor wit — not rock, but shifting sand?
The yoke of Ignorance, a galling band,
Doth sadly hamper search for greater pleasure;
And O, a scanty crop gives barren Leisure —
’Tis surely plain! Wilt thou not understand?
Then, follies fashioned in our youthful day
May well be likened to a blemished tree,
Which having started crooked on its way,
Years add but strength to its deformity.
Then, pray for wisdom and its pure delight —
A cloudless morn presages peaceful night.
William Blocksidge, Songs o’ the South, London: Watts, 1908, p. 49
canst = (archaic) can (second person singular present of “can”)
doth = (archaic) does
morn = morning
presage = an indication, intimation, sign, or warning of a future occurrence or event; an omen, portent; a foretelling, intuition, prediction, or premonition that something is about to happen; a foreshadowing, intuition, or presentiment of a future occurrence
spurn’st = (archaic) spurn
thou = (archaic) you
thy = (archaic) your
’tis = (archaic) a contraction of “it is”
wilt = (archaic) will