from Oracles for Youth by Caroline Gilman |

After losing a son in 1839, Caroline Gilman wrote to her sister that she had developed "something amounting to aversion to the whole writing process," a process which now "seemed to be almost a disease."

  • Sunday, October 27, 2013 5:48pm
  • Life

from Oracles for Youth

by 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.


About This Poem

Caroline Gilman was born on October 8, 1794, in Boston, Massachusetts. Her first poem, was published–without her permission–when she was sixteen. In 1832, Gilman began to edit one of the earliest United States children’s papers, the Southern Rosebud. Many of Gilman’s works discuss the humorous happenings of domestic life. She died on September 15, 1888 at the age of 94.


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