The Country Doctor (Carleton)

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The Country Doctor
by Will Carleton

There's a gathering in the village, that has never been outdone
Since the soldiers took their muskets to the war of '61,
And a lot of lumber wagons near the church upon the hill,
And a crowd of country people, Sunday dressed and very still.
Now each window is preempted by a dozen heads or more,
Now the spacious pews are crowded from the pulpit to the door;
For with coverlet of blackness on his portly figure spread,
Lies the grim old country doctor, in a massive oaken bed,

Lies the fierce old country doctor,
Lies the kind old country doctor,

Whom the populace considered with a mingled love and dread.

Maybe half the congregation, now of great or little worth,
Found this watcher waiting for them, when they came upon the earth;
This undecorated soldier, of a hard, unequal strife,
Fought in many stubborn battles with the foes that sought their life.
In the nighttime or the daytime, he would rally brave and well,
Though the summer lark was fifing or the frozen lances fell;
Knowing, if he won the battle, they would praise their Maker's name,
Knowing, if he lost the battle, then the doctor was to blame.

'Twas the brave old virtuous doctor,
'Twas the good old faulty doctor,

'Twas the faithful country doctor-fighting stoutly all the same.

When so many pined in sickness he had stood so strongly by,
Half the people felt a notion that the doctor couldn't die;
They must slowly learn the lesson how to live from day to day,
And have somehow lost their bearings-now this landmark is away.
But perhaps it still is better that his busy life is done;
He has seen old views and patients disappearing, one by one;
He has learned that Death is master both of science and of art;
He has done his duty fairly and has acted out his part.

And the strong old country doctor,
And the weak old country doctor.


This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.