A Beloved Poem- “People Will Talk” by Mary E. Harris

This has been one of my favorite poems since I was just a young girl.  I was only 10 years old and even at that tender age, it resonated with me.  Truly a classic, and it has stood the test of time.   People are the primary reason that I am a “loner”, someone
who prefers a small, quality circle of friends, people who truly know my heart and intentions.  As for the rest of you, here you are, right here in this poem!

You may get through the world, but ’twill be very slow,
If you listen to all that is said as you go;
You’ll be worried and freeted and kept in a stew,
For meddlesome tongues will have something to do;

For People Will Talk.

It quiet and modest, you’ll have it presumed
That your humble position is only assumed;
You’re a wolf in sheep’s clothings, or else you’re a fool,
But don’t get excited, keep perfectly cool;

For People Will Talk.

If generous and noble, they’ll vent out their spleen.
You’ll hear some loud hints that you’re selfish and mean.
If upright and honest and fair as the day,
They’ll call you a rogue in a sly, sneaking way!

For People Will Talk.

And then if you show any boldness of heart,
Or a slight inclination to take your own part,
They will call you an upstart, conceitied, and vain;
But keep straight ahead, don’t stop and explain;

For People Will Talk.

If threadbare your dress, or old-fashioned your hat,
Some one will surely take notice of that,
And hint rather strong that you can’t pay your way;
But don’t get excited whatever they say,

For People Will Talk.

If you dress in the fashion, don’t think to escape,
For they criticize then if a different shape;
You’re ahead of your means, or your tailor’s unpaid
But mind your own business, don’t mind what is said;

For People Will Talk.

Now, the best way to do is to do as your please,
For your mind, if you have one, will then be at ease.
Of course you will meet with all sorts of abuse,
But don’t think to stop it, it is of no use,

For People Will Talk.

“The world will tell you who you are, until you tell the world”

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11 thoughts on “A Beloved Poem- “People Will Talk” by Mary E. Harris

  1. I have been looking for this poem ever since I was in Standerd 7 for I loved it from the days of singing it at primary level. I was no more complete in the memory. thank you for making it available
    Lekitlane T.M.

  2. My great-great-grandmother wrote this poem. Mary E. Harris, born in Kentucky in 1839. She wrote this poem in 1866, age 27.

  3. i learned this poem 30 years in elementary school. foergot some words and has been looking for it. i feel as it it was written about me.thanks so much to your grandmother for writing it. it is like a prayer to me when i think of it. so glad i am able to get my prayer back.

  4. Hey Lindsay,
    I recently found something in a collection of mine…I think it may have to do with your grandmother…It is a Vintage Silver (Stainless-I think) Pitcher Table Lighter, I was researching it to list it on ebay, when I found your Grands poem. The only reason I found the poem is because on the bottom of the lighter there is an engraving which reads, “Read Clothes Talk By Mary Harris”…..I was wondering if they are one in the same before I list…Please let me know.

    • I’m sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I was not getting the responses until just today on this post. I do not if they are the same person. I have forwarded this page to my mother who knows more about her. I’m sure you already listed it though. But I’m sure my mother will be interested in seeing the comment. Thanks!

  5. I love this poem!! It was reintroduced to me while I was in the hospital. The medical nurse who was assigned to me gave me a printout of this poem which I haven’t heard in years and was so happy to receive again, I will now have it framed and hanging on my wall for everyone to see and appreciate it as I do Thanks so much to your grandmother for writing and hitting home for me on this one, I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT!!!

  6. My father used to recite this often.Have been looking for the words for many years.Thank you for resurrecting them.Mair Fairbanks

  7. I am very delighted to meet this lovely poem of mine.my english teacher taught me this poem when i was in secondary school 14 years ago.parts of it are missing in my memory.i thank you for this post.

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