Most Haste, Worst Speed

Miss Porden

A True Story

Eager my mother’s mandate to obey
Swift to the verdant lawn I haste away,
I will not e’en to tie my bonnet stay
But ere my flying feet attain the grass
I must alas all round a corner pass,
A box of Earth alone impedes my flight,
The corner’s long, and well t’will bear my weight
I mount it, but in jumping off, my gown
Catches the wood, and it is overthrown.
To take it up, altho’ it cause delay
I must, to save my mother’s anger, stay,
’Tis done, but onwards as once more I go,
A breeze of wind does off my bonnet blow,
I will not stay for it, but ah the sun
Strikes on my head, ere twenty yards are run.
Still further from me does the bonnet blow,
But I alas, to fetch it still must go,
Nay e’en the wind has blown it off the grass
Beyond the corner that I would not pass

I pick it up, and tying it, I run,
But scarce again my flight have I begun
Ere by a rising molehill overthrown
Prone on the grass, alas, I tumble down
 And now, so many difficulties past,
I do my errand and return at last,
Seeing my fall, to me thus cries my mother,
“Look not one way, while still you row another,
For things tho’ small, if necessary stay,
Excess of haste can only cause delay.”


July 1808