to train the ants to play and dance, to teach the toad to stutter
I do not think that I would shrink from stern and vital duty;
I sometimes soil my palms with toil; I am no lilied beauty.
I half believe that I conceive each man should plan some service;
I think I might perform some flight, or feat, and not get nervous.
I’m not averse to work, or worse, for needful bread and butter,
But I do best (by actual test) the job of poke-and-putter;
Lord! how I love to putter!
I love to squirt the garden dirt, to treat the thirsty grasses,
To paint the shed a bluish red, to glue Aunt Dora’s glasses,
To saw a limb, or take a whim to grease the differential,
To do ten stunts, and all at once, and none of them essential,
To train the ants to play and dance, to teach the toad to stutter,
To fool away the live-long day, to poke around and putter;
For Lord! I love to putter!
It may be true that when I'm through, some Expert of Efficients
Will strive to prove each wasted move affronted High Omniscience,
But when I face the Throne of Grace to get what’s coming to me,
I still shall plead for one small meed of lenity, if due me;
When Gabriel’s tones shall shake my bones, when that last blast shall utter,
I’ll ask the Lord to please afford a place where I can putter!
O, Lord! please let me putter!
— “Puttering,” in Edmund Vance Cooke his Companionable Poems (Chicago, 1932) : 195-196
First encountered in Catalogue of Copyright Entries : Pamphlets, leaflets ..., (New Series, Volume 17) pamphlets, leaflets, contributions to newspapers of periodicals, etc.: lectures, sermons, addresses for oral delivery; dramatic compositions; maps; motion pictures (1920) : here
(hence date prior to publication in 1932)