'T Is But A Drop

John Pierpont

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'Tis but a drop" the father said,
And gave it to his son;
But little did he think a work
Of death was then begun.
The "drop" that lured him when the babe
Scarce lisped his father's name,
Planted a fatal appetite
Deep in his infant frame.

"'T is but a drop," the comrades cried,
In truant school-boy tone;
"It did not hurt us in our robes,
It will not now we're grown."
And so they drank the mixture up--
That reeling, youthful band;
For each had learned to love the taste
From his own father's hand.

"'T is but a drop," the husband said,
While his poor wife stood by,
In famine, grief, and loneliness,
And raised th' imploring cry.
"'T is but a drop--I'll drink it still--
'T will never injure me:
I always drink--so, madam, hush!
We never can agree.'

She wept, she pleaded, but in vain,
The hunger of her child,
And her own tatter'd dress--the wretch
Her mournful words revil'd.
He took the cup with fiend-like air,
And deep and long he drank;
Then dash'd it down, and on the earth
Insensible he sank.

"'T is but a drop--I need it now,"
The staggering drunkard said;
"It was my food in infancy--
My meat, and drink, and bread.
A drop--a drop--oh, let me have,
'T will so refresh my soul!"
He took it--trembled--drank and died,
Grasping the fatal bowl.

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