A Little Grey Curl — Poem by Louisa M. Alcott

A little grey curl from my father's head
I find unburned on the hearth,
And give it a place in my diary here,
With a feeling half sadness, half mirth.
For the long white locks are our special pride,
Though he smiles at his daughter's praise;
But, oh, they have grown each year more thin,
Till they are now but a silvery haze.

That wise old head! (though it does grow bald
With the knocks hard fortune may give)
Has a store of faith and hope and trust,
Which have taught him how to live.
Though the hat be old, there's a face below
Which telleth to those who look
The history of a good man's life,
And it cheers like a blessed book.

[A]A peddler of jewels, of clocks, and of books,
Many a year of his wandering youth;
A peddler still, with a far richer pack,
His wares are wisdom and love and truth.
But now, as then, few purchase or pause,
For he cannot learn the tricks of trade;
Little silver he wins, but that which time
Is sprinkling thick on his meek old head.

But there'll come a day when the busy world,
Grown sick with its folly and pride,
Will remember the mild-faced peddler then
Whom it rudely had set aside;
Will remember the wares he offered it once
And will seek to find him again,
Eager to purchase truth, wisdom, and love,
But, oh, it will seek him in vain.

It will find but his footsteps left behind
Along the byways of life,
Where he patiently walked, striving the while
To quiet its tumult and strife.
But the peddling pilgrim has laid down his pack
And gone with his earnings away;
How small will they seem, remembering the debt
Which the world too late would repay.

God bless the dear head! and crown it with years
Untroubled and calmly serene;
That the autumn of life more golden may be
For the heats and the storms that have been.
My heritage none can ever dispute,
My fortune will bring neither strife nor care;
'Tis an honest name, 'tis a beautiful life,
And the silver lock of my father's hair.