Do It Now by Berton Braley

Old Burying Ground in Hingham, Massachusetts.
Image via Wikipedia

If with pleasure you are viewing
any work a man is doing,
If you like him or you love him,
tell him now;
Don’t withhold your approbation
till the parson makes oration
And he lies with snowy lilies on his brow;
No matter how you shout it
he won’t really care about it;
He won’t know how many teardrops you have shed;
If you think some praise is due him
now’s the time to slip it to him,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he’s dead.

More than fame and more than money
is the comment kind and sunny
And the hearty, warm approval of a friend.
For it gives to life a savor,
and it makes you stronger, braver,
And it gives you heart and spirit to the end;
If he earns your praise – bestow it,
if you like him let him know it,
Let the words of true encouragement be said;
Do not wait till life is over
and he’s underneath the clover,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he’s dead.


  1. My grandmother used to quote this poem to us. I could never recite the whole thing but always remembered the lesson it was teaching.

  2. My great aunt Elliott Taylor was married to Berton and I am always pleased to hear appreciations of his poems

  3. Deborah Sharp,

    I am very glad I found your posting here. I have placed an online memorial page on Berton Braley on the Find A Grave Website, at I did this even though I am unrelated to Berton Braley, because I am doing research for my website,, and wanted to find biographical information on Mr. Braley. I set up the memorial page in the hope that it could serve as an information collecting point, so that others who might know something about him could add information or correct any errors, and eventually a more complete biography could be made. If you have time, please visit the memorial page. I welcome anything you might be able to add to it, and I can transfer the memorial page to you if you would like, as is typically done with persons who are within about four generations of the person or are otherwise interested.

    I have not yet had time to put together all of the information I have on Berton Braley or complete any research, but I do know that he and Elliot Taylor had a son named Ian Braley (1925 – 1999) whose obituary can be found at

    I do research on authors whose works appear on the Make Fun Of Life! Website, in order to authenticate authorship, to make certain that the complete work is available, and to make sure it is in the original unaltered wording.

    You can reach me by leaving a message for me on the Find A Grave Website, or by contacting me at email address, or by leaving a message here.

    Thank you.

    -Nathan Taylor, Chief Funologist at ‘Make Fun Of Life!’

    P.S.: Also, my thanks to Fully Zoetic for this posting. Keep up the good work.

  4. Wish I could do more than saying “thanks” for such a worthwhile effort and wishing you well. Heard big parts of this fine poem today from a neighbor as I walked our prodigal dog, and he and his spouse walked each other. Much enjoyed returning home and learning a bit about Berton Braley and reading his beautiful poem in its entirety. I wish the best for you. Take care, Gene

  5. Love this – have often recited it in my mind and shared with others since my school days in the 50’s I could not remember all of the second verse (except he cannot read his tombstone when he;s dead), Thank you for making this available!!

  6. My grandfather taught me this poem about 55 years ago! I never knew who wrote it. Very glad to know!

  7. I love this poem and have recited the first portion on several church programs. I never knew the second part but I am going to learn it.

  8. I was a 19 year old Theological student in 1954 when Mr Wynand Malan of the farm The Aric d’ Oreleans near Franschoek in South Africa, gave me this poem. I never saw Mr Malan again, but after 68 years the poem remains part of DNA.

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