"I am a boxer, who does not inflict blows on the air, but I hit hard and straight at my own body." -- 1 Cor. ix. 26 (WEYMOUTH'S Translation).
'T'was breakfast time, and outside in the street
The factory men went by with hurrying feet.
And on the bridge, in dim December light,
The newsboys shouted of the great prize fight.
Then, as I dished the bacon, and served out
The porridge, all our youngsters gave a shout.
The letter-box had clicked, and through the din
The Picture News was suddenly pushed in.
John showed the lads the pictures, and explained
Just how the fight took place, and what was gained
By that slim winner. Then, he looked at me
As I sat, busy, pouring out the tea:
"Your mother is a boxer, rightly styled.
She hits the air sometimes, though," and John smiled.
"Yet she fights on." Young Jack, with widened eyes
Said: "Dad, how soon will mother get a prize?"
We laughed. And yet it set me thinking, how
I beat the air, because a neighbour's cow
Munched at our early cabbages, and ate
The lettuce up, and tramped my mignonette!
And many a time I kicked against the pricks
Because the little dog at number six
Disturbed my rest. And then, how cross I got
When Jane seemed discontented with her lot.
Until poor John in desperation said
He wearied of the theme -- and went to bed!
And how I vexed myself that day, when he
Brought people unexpectedly for tea,
Because the table-cloth was old and stained,
And not a single piece of cake remained.
And how my poor head ached! Because, well there!
It uses lots of strength to beat the air!
"I am a boxer!" Here and now I pray
For grace to hit the self-life every day.
And when the old annoyance comes once more
And the old temper rises sharp and sore,
I shall hit hard and straight, O Tender-Wise,
And read approval in Thy loving eyes.