from Oracles for Youth

Caroline Gilman

Let some one hold the book, and ask one of the questions. The answers being all
numbered, the girl or boy who is questioned chooses a number, and the person
who holds the book reads the answer to which that number belongs, aloud.
For instance:
Question. What is your character?
Answer. I choose No. 3
Questioner reads aloud:
No. 3. Gentle tempered, sweet and kind,
           To no angry word inclined.
          What Will Be Your Destiny?
1. Just as you think you’ve gained great wealth,
    Something will make you lose your health.
2. Your hair will be white in a single night,
    From having an unexpected fright.
3. You will enjoy a sweet old age,
    So kind and pure, so long and sage.
4. You will fall down at eighty-four,
    And break a dozen ribs or more.
5. You will finish your days with God for your friend:
    Who would not be glad of so blissful an end?
6. You will be ever absorbed in books,
    And never give a thought to looks.
7. In peace and plenty you will lie,
    And in the arms of friendship die.
8. You will have cause for many tears,
    To cloud the beauty of your years.
9. Ah, is it so? when you are old,
    you will be very poor, I’m told.
10. In the night-time you will weep,
      And your painful vigils keep.
11. Nothing dreadful, nothing sad,
      Comes to you; for this I’m glad.
12. You always will have an excellent table,
      And full of horses will keep your stable.
13. The Sibyl says you’ll die in Rome,
      Which for a time will be your home.
14. Your plenty and peace
      Will never cease.
15. You will suddenly die in the crowded street,
      If the age of a hundred years you meet.
16. You will ride in your carriage-and-four,
      And be very kind to the suffering poor.
17. Never murmur, never care,
      You will be a millionaire.
18. Sick at heart, and sick at head,
      You will wish that you were dead.
19. As the might of God you see,
      Religious you will ever be.
20. To California you will go
      To get the shining gold, you know.
21. Brightest pleasures you will see,
      And happiness your portion be.
22. Love will gild your joyous life,
      Free from pain and care and strife.
23. Don’t despond, and do not care,
      You will be a nabob’s heir.
24. To California you will be sent,
      But will return as poor as you went.
25. A missionary you will be,
      Far o’er the billows of the sea.
26. It is your destiny to rule,
      And you will keep a village school.
27. Ball and parties you will find
      Alone are suited to your mind.
28. Through the vista of the years
      I see you mourning and in tears.
29. A country life at length you’ll lead,
      Rejoicing in your ambling steed.
30. Fair in the wild and prairied west,
      Your tired frame at length you’ll rest.
31. A public singer’s place you’ll take,
      And a sensation you will make.
32. You’ll only love your native home,
      From which you will not care to roam.
33. A great pianist, you will gain
      Bright laurels from the admiring train.
34. A kitchen garden you will keep,
      And sell fresh vegetables cheap.
35. To higher virtues you will rise,
      Until you’re ready for the skies.
36. To the city’s crowded street
      You’ll direct your willing feet.
37. In digging in a worn-out field
      You’ll see a box, securely sealed,
          Half buried in the ground;
      And therein jewels bright, and gold,
      And bank-notes, in large bundles rolled,
          Will joyfully be found.
38. A music teacher you will be,
      This is your tuneful destiny.
39. You will travel in your prime,
      And view the works of art sublime.
40. You will journey the whole world o’er,
      And gather relics from every shore.
41. The most of your time will be passed on the sea,
      But wherever you are, you will happy be.
42. On an island will you live,
      And nice pleasure-parties give.
43. You will spend your leisure hours,
      In a garden tending flowers.

Further Reading

Poems about the Future
"Oh could I raise the darken'd veil"
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
After Us
by Nikola Madzirov
Days of Future Dwell
by Samuel Amadon
He Foretells His Passing
by F. D. Reeve
by Tracy K. Smith
The Hammock
by Li-Young Lee
Untranslatable Song
by Claudia Reder
Poems about Living
"I'm afraid of death"
by Kathleen Ossip
A Toast
by Ilya Kaminsky
Another Elegy
by Jericho Brown
Ashes of Life
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
August, 1953
by David Wojahn
bonne chance de lycée
by Buck Downs
C'est La Guerre
by Danniel Schoonebeek
Characteristics of Life
by Camille T. Dungy
Corpse Flower, Luna Moth
by Daniel Tobin
Costumes Exchanging Glances
by Mary Jo Bang
Daily Life
by Susan Wood
Difficult Body
by Mark Wunderlich
Elegy in Joy [excerpt]
by Muriel Rukeyser
En Route
by Darcie Dennigan
far memory
by Lucille Clifton
First Things to Hand
by Robert Pinsky
Flowers of Rad
by Sampson Starkweather
Forth Into View, Random Warriors
by Pattiann Rogers
from Two Inch Fables
by Marilyn Chin
by Natasha Head
How to Uproot a Tree
by Jennifer K. Sweeney
I could suffice for Him, I knew (643)
by Emily Dickinson
I Have a Rendezvous With Life
by Countee Cullen
I Know A Few Things
by Stuart Dischell
In a Landscape: IV
by John Gallaher
In Betweenness
by Pierre Joris
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
by Joe Brainard
Life is Fine
by Langston Hughes
Little Night Prayer
by Péter Kántor
Living in Numbers
by Claire Lee
Lost and Found
by Ron Padgett
Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus [excerpt]
by Denise Levertov
by Carl Dennis
Meditation 29
by Philip Pain
by Ernest Hemingway
My Teacup
by Alli Warren
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
On Living
by Nazim Hikmet
On the Gallows Once
by Kofi Awoonor
One Train May Hide Another
by Kenneth Koch
Past Inclemency & Present Warmth
by Eryn Green
Poem Excluding Fiction
by Noah Falck
by Effie Waller Smith
Primitive State [excerpt]
by Anselm Berrigan
Roar Shack
by Alice Fulton
Samurai Song
by Robert Pinsky
Song for Future Books
by Joanna Fuhrman
Songs of a Girl
by Mary Carolyn Davies
by Bill Knott
by Mark Doty
sugar is smoking
by Jason Schneiderman
Summer in Winter in Summer
by Noah Eli Gordon
Tear It Down
by Jack Gilbert
The Clouded Morning
by Jones Very
The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Old Stoic
by Emily Brontë
The Pain
by Laura Kasischke
The Secret
by Denise Levertov
This is My Life
by William Stanley Braithwaite
by Walt Whitman
Thrown as if Fierce & Wild
by Dean Young
Variation on a Theme
by W. S. Merwin
Virgil's Hand
by Francesc Parcerisas
What the Living Do
by Marie Howe
What Wild-Eyed Murderer
by Peter Meinke
What's Left (Al-Mutanabbi Street)
by Katrina Roberts
Where I Live
by Maxine Kumin
won't you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton
Yellow Beak
by Stephen Dobyns
[I'm not with my]
by Joshua Beckman
Poems about Time
by David Lehman
by Marjorie Welish
In Betweenness
by Pierre Joris
Individual Time
by Alice Notley
Manifest Destiny
by Cynthia Lowen
Meeting and Passing
by Robert Frost
by Mary Ruefle
On Time
by John Milton
Paper Swallow
by Stanley Moss
Poem with Lines from Pierre Reverdy
by Sandra Simonds
Real Time
by Charlie Smith
by Jacek Gutorow
Song of Quietness
by Robinson Jeffers
The Edges of Time
by Kay Ryan
The Moon in Time Lapse
by David Rivard
The Sun-Dial
by Adelaide Crapsey
by Sally Van Doren
Time does not bring relief (Sonnet II)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
To a Young Girl at a Window
by Margaret Widdemer
What God Knew
by Marianne Boruch