OLD John had an apple-tree, healthy and green,
Which bore the best codlins that ever were seen,
So juicy, so mellow, and red;
And when they were ripe, he disposed of his store,
To children or any who pass’d by his door,
To buy him a morsel of bread.
Little Dick, his next neighbour, one often might see,
With longing eye viewing this fine apple-tree,
And wishing a codlin might fall:
One day as he stood in the heat of the sun,
He began thinking whether he might not take one,
And then he look’d over the wall.
And as he again cast his eye on the tree,
He said to himself, ‘Oh, how nice they would be,
So cool and refreshing to-day!
The tree is so full, and one only I’ll take,
And John cannot see if I give it a shake,
And nobody is in the way.
But stop, little boy, take your hand from the bough,
Remember, though John cannot see you just now,
And no one to chide you is nigh,
There is One, who by night, just as well as by day,
Can see all you do, and can hear all you say,
From his glorious throne in the sky.
O then little boy, come away from the tree,
Lest tempted to this wicked act you should be:
‘Twere better to starve than to steal;
For the great GOD, who even through darkness can look,
Writes down every crime we commit, in His book;
Nor forgets what we try to conceal.