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Bert Leston Taylor.

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And excited the youth with the writing tool
Who does the Newport drivel and drool
For the prosperous publisher bland and fat
Who ordered the virgin paper that
Was made by the man with the paper mill
Who bought the pulp that paid the bill
Of Ole Oleson the husky Swede
Who did a foul and darksome deed
When he swung his ax with vigor and vim
And smote the spruce tree tall and trim
That grew in the forest primeval.

This is the shop girl Mag or Liz
Who daily devours what news there is
Concerning the lady far from slim
Who changed the time of her ocean swim
And excited the youth with the writing tool
Who does the daily Newport drool
For the pursy publisher bland and rich
Who bought the innocent paper which
Was made by the man with the paper mill
Who bought the pulp that paid the bill
Of the Swedish jack who slew the spruce
That came to a most ignoble use -
The lofty spruce with the glorious plume -
The giant spruce that used to loom
In the heart of the forest primeval.




HOW THEY MIGHT HAVE BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS


We sprang to the motor, I, Joris and Dirck.
I snapped on my goggles and got to my work.
"Hi, there!" yelled the cop in the helmet of white;
"Let her flicker!" said Joris, and into the night,
With a sneer at the speed laws, we hurtled hell-bent
To carry to Aix the good tidings from Ghent.

The going was poor, we expected delay,
And the usual livestock obstructed the way.
At Boom we ran over a large yellow dog,
At DГјffeld a chicken, at Mecheln a hog;
What else, we'd no time to slow down to inquire;
At Aerschot, confound it! we blew out a tire.

I jacked up the axle and ripped off the shoe,
And snapped on an extra that promised to do.
"All aboard!" I exclaimed as I cranked the machine,
But something was wrong with the curst gasoline.
"By Hasselt!" Dirck groaned, "We'll be half a day late;
We ought to have sent the good tidings by freight."

False prophet! I tinkered a minute or two
And again we were off like "a bolt from the blue."
We ate up the hills at a forty-mile clip,
And skidded the turns like the snap of a whip,
Till we dashed into Aix and were pinched by a cop
For failing to slow when commanded to stop.

"Now, wouldn't that frost you!" said Joris, but we
When we told the glad tidings were instantly free.
The Mayor himself paid the ten dollars' fine,
And blew us to dinner with six kinds of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted, by common consent)
Was no more than their due that brought good news from Ghent.




THE DINOSAUR


Behold the mighty Dinosaur,
Famous in prehistoric lore,
Not only for his weight and strength
But for his intellectual length.
You will observe by these remains
The creature had two sets of brains -
One in his head (the usual place),
The other at his spinal base.
Thus he could reason _a priori_
As well as _a posteriori_.
No problem bothered him a bit;
He made both head and tail of it.
So wise he was, so wise and solemn,
Each thought filled just a spinal column.
If one brain found the pressure strong
It passed a few ideas along;
If something slipped his forward mind
'Twas rescued by the one behind;
And if in error he was caught
He had a saving afterthought.
As he thought twice before he spoke
He had no judgments to revoke;
For he could think, without congestion,
Upon both sides of every question.

Oh, gaze upon this model beast,
Defunct ten million years at least.




A BALLADE OF CAP AND BELLS


When as a dewdrop joy enspheres
This pleasant planet, arched with blue,
When every prospect charms and cheers,
And all the world is fair to view -
Who does not envy (have not you?)
That mortal, by Thalia kissed,
Who plies, in plumes of cockatoo,
The blithesome trade of humorist?

But when the wind of fortune veers,
And blue-white skies turn leaden hue,
When every pleasant prospect blears
And all the weary world's askew -
Who then would envy (if he knew)
Jack Point the jester, glum and trist;
Or ply, tho' first of all the crew,
The dismal trade of humorist?

Ah, jocund trifles writ in tears,
And merry stanzas steeped in rue!
When all the world in drab appears
The fool must still in motley woo.
Tho' bitter be the cud he chew,
Still must he grind his foolish grist;
Still must he ply, the long day through,
The tragic trade of humorist!


_L'Envoi_

Lady of Tears, what pains perdue
The heart and soul of him may twist
Who doth in cap and bells pursue
The glad sad trade of humorist!




GENTLE DOCTOR BROWN


It was a gentle sawbones and his name was Doctor Brown.
His auto was the terror of a small suburban town.
His practice, quite amazing for so trivial a place,
Consisted of the victims of his homicidal pace.

So constant was his practice and so high his motor's gear
That at knocking down pedestrians he never had a peer;
But it must, in simple justice, be as truly written down
That no man could be more thoughtful than gentle Doctor Brown.

Whatever was the errand on which Doctor Brown was bent
He'd stop to patch a victim up and never charged a cent.
He'd always pause, whoever 'twas he happened to run down:
A humane and a thoughtful man was gentle Doctor Brown.

"How fortunate," he would observe, "how fortunate 'twas I
That knocked you galley-west and heard your wild and wailing cry.
There _are_ some heartless wretches who would leave you here alone,
Without a sympathetic ear to catch your dying moan.

"Such callousness," said Doctor Brown, "I cannot comprehend;
To fathom such indifference I simply don't pretend.
One ought to do his duty, and I never am remiss.
A simple word of thanks is all I ask. Here, swallow this!"

Then, reaching in the tonneau, he'd unpack his little kit,
And perform an operation that was workmanlike and fit.
"You may survive," said Doctor Brown; "it's happened once or twice.
If not, you've had the benefit of competent advice."

Oh, if all our motormaniacs were equally humane,
How little bitterness there'd be, or reason to complain!
How different our point of view if we were ridden down
By lunatics as thoughtful as gentle Doctor Brown!




IN THE GALLERY


Weirder than the pictures
Are the folks who come
With their owlish strictures -
Telling why they're bum.
Of all lines of babble
This one has the call:
Picture gallery gabble
Is the best of all.

Literary fluffle
Never, never cloys;
Much has Mrs. Guffle
Added to my joys.
For that chitter-chatter
I delight to fall.
But the picture patter
Is the best of all.

With the music highbrows
I delight to chat,
Elevating my brows
Over this and that.
Music tittle-tattle
Never fails to thrall.
But the picture prattle
Is the best of all.

Sociologic rub-dub
I delight to hear;
Philosophic flub-dub
Titillates my ear.
Lovelier yet the spiffle
In the picture hall;
For the picture piffle
Is the best of all.

Weirder than the pictures
Are the folks who stand
Passing owlish strictures,
Catalogue in hand.
Hear the bunk they babble
Under every wall.
Yes. The gallery gabble
Is the best of all.




ALWAYS

"_Il y a tous les jours quelque dam chose._"
- ABELARD TO HELOISE.


When Mrs. Mead was full of groans,
When symptoms of all sorts assailed her,
She sent for bluff old Doctor Jones,
And told him all the things that ailed her.
It took her nearly half the day,
And when she finished out the string -
"Ye-e-s, Mrs. Mead," drawled Doctor J.,
"There's always some dam thing."

I like the line. It's worth a ton
Of optimistic commonplaces.
It's tonic, it refreshes one,
It cheers, it stimulates, it braces.
It summarizes things so well;
It has the philosophic ring.
Has Kant or Hegel more to tell?
"There's always some dam thing."

The dean of all the cheer-up school
Adjures sad hearts to cease repining,
And intimates that, as a rule,
The sun behind the cloud is shining.
"Into each life - - " You know the rest;
No need to finish out the string.
Longfellow boiled might be expressed,
"There's always some dam thing."

When things go wrong I do not read
The cheer-up poets, great or lesser.
To soothe my soul I do not need
The Neo-Thought of Mr. Dresser.
Sufficient for each working day,
With all the worries it may bring,
That helpful line by Doctor J.,
"There's always some dam thing."




THE MODERN MARINER


A dry sheet and a lazy sea,
And a wind so far from fast
It barely floats the owner's flag
That flutters at the mast -
That flutters at the mast, my boys;
So while the sky is free
Of cloud we'll take a yachtsman's chance
And venture out to sea.

The aneroid has dropped a tenth!
Back, back across the bar
To a harbor snug, and a long cold drink,
And a big fat black cigar -
A big fat black cigar, my boys;
While, on an even keel,
The Swedish chef out-chefs himself
In getting up a meal.

Give me a soft and gentle wind,
A fleckless azure sky;
I care not for your "snoring breeze"
And dinners heaving high -
And dinners heaving high, my boys,
Make no great hit with me;
So when the breeze begins to snore
We'll not put out to sea.

There's laughter in yon beach hotel,
And summer girls a crowd;
And hark the music, mariners,
The band is piping loud!
The band is piping loud, my boys,
Bright eyes are flashing free.
Come, fly the owner's-absent flag
And join the revelry.




A BALLADE OF THE CANNERY


What of the phrases, long decayed,
Of paleologic pedigree,
Musty, moldy, frazzled, and frayed -
A doddering, dusty company?
What shall be done with them? say we;
And east and west the people bawl,
Dump them into the Cannery! -
Into the brine go one and all.

"Grilled" and "lauded" and "scored" and "flayed,"
"Common or garden variety,"
"Wave of crime" and "reform crusade,"
"Along these lines" and "it seems to me,"
"Noted savant," "I fail to see,"
The "groaning board" of the "banquet hall," -
Masonjar 'em in "ghoulish glee" -
Into the brine go one and all.

"Succulent bivalves," "trusty blade,"
"Last analysis," "practical-ly,"
"Lone highwayman" and "fusillade,"
"Millionaire broker and clubman," "gee!"
"In reply to yours," "can such things be?"
"Sounded the keynote" or "trumpet call," -
Can 'em, pickle 'em, one, two, three -
Into the brine go one and all.


_L'Envoi_

Under the spreading chestnut tree
Stands the Cannery, all too small.
The Canner a briny man is he,
And into the brine go one and all.




PANDEAN PIPEDREAMS

(_Induced by smoking "Pagan Pickings."_)


I

_This is something that I heard,_
_As the fluting of a bird,_
_On a certain drowsy day,_
_When my pipe was under way._
_I was weary of the town,_
_And the going up and down;_
_Sick of streets and sick of noise, - _
_And I pined for Pagan joys._

Daphne, here it is July!
Just the month, my love, to fly
To a sylvan solitude
In the green and ancient wood.
We will trip it as we go
On the neo-Pagan toe,
Sunny days and starry nights,
Savoring the wild delights
Of a turbulent desire
That may set the wood on fire.

We will play at hunt-the-fawn,
In the neo-Dorian dawn.
You will scamper through the brake,
And I'll follow in your wake -

As the young Apollo ran
In the piping days of Pan.
You'll escape me, without doubt,
For I'm just a trifle stout;
But, when I have lagged behind,
Waiting for my second wynde,
From some pretty hiding-place
Will emerge your laughing face;
I shall glimpse your eyes of blue,
Hear your merry "Peek-a-boo!"

What to wear? The Pagan plan
Contemplates a coat of tan;
But I fear we shall require
Just a trifle more attire.
Bushes scratch and brambles sting;
Insect myriads are a-wing; -
Heavens, how mosquitoes swarm
When the woodland air is warm.
(MEM: To take, when we elope,
Tanglewood Mosquito Dope.)

Do you like the picture, dear?
Have you aught of doubt or fear?
Have you any criticism
Of my neo-Paganism?
If not, dearie, let us fly
To that passion-ripening sky,
Where our souls may have their fling,
And our every care take wing.

_So the bird song fluted by,_
_Like a vagrant summer sigh - _
_Came, and passed, and was no more;_
_And my pleasant dream was o'er._
_For arose the wraith of Doubt;_
_And I knew my pipe was out._


II

_This is something that befell_
_When my pipe was drawing well - _
_Something, rather, that I heard_
_As the fluting of a bird._

Daphne, come and live with me
In a Pagan greenery.
Life will then be naught but play,
One long Pagan holiday.
We will play at hide and seek
In the alders by the creek;
Sport amid the cascade's smother.
Splashing water at each other; -
Every moment pleasure wooing,
Every moment something doing.
If we talk, we'll talk of Love:
All its arguments we'll prove.
Such a mental rest you'll find.
Leave your intellect behind.

Night will come, (for come it will,
'Spite the fluting on the hill,)
And we'll pitch a cozy camp
Where it isn't quite so damp.
While you dry your hair and laze
By the campfire's violet blaze,
I will rob a balsam tree
To construct a house for thee.
What so dear as to be wooed
In a sylvan solitude?

What so sweet as Pagan vows
Whispered in a house of boughs?
Pagan love's without alloy.
Pagan kisses never cloy.
Arms that cling in Pagan fashion
Never tire. A Pagan passion
Is the only kind I know
That outlives a winter's snow.
Daphne, Daphne, let us fly!
You're a Pagan - so am I.

_So the fluting on the hill_
_Passed and died, and all was still._
_So the Pagan Pickings died,_
_And I laid the pipe aside._




THE LAUNDRY OF LIFE

(_An Adventure in Sentiment._)


Life is a laundry in which we
Are ironed out, or soon or late.
Who has not known the irony
Of fate?

We enter it when we are born,
Our colors bright. Full soon they fade.
We leave it "done up," old and worn,
And frayed;

Frayed round the edges, worn and thin -
Life is a rough old linen slinger.
Who has not lost a button in
Life's wringer?

With other linen we are tubbed,
With other linen often tangled;
In open court we then are scrubbed,
And mangled.

Some take a gloss of happiness
The hardest wear can not diminish;
Others, alas! get a "domes-
Tic finish."




WISDOM IN A CAPSULE

"_If she be not so to me._
_What care I how fair she be?_"
- THE SHEPHERD'S RESOLUTION.


Here we have in this truism
Mr. James's pragmatism.
Test your troubles day by day
With it, and they fly away.
Is the weather boiling hot,
Hot enough to boil a pot -
If it be not so to me,
What care I how hot it be?

Take a pudding made of bread;
Much against it has been said;
But it does not lack defense -
Many say it is immense.
Be it damned or be it blessed,
Let us make the acid test -
If it be not so to me,
What care I how good it be?

So with every blooming thing
That has power to soothe or sting;
Ships or shoes or sealing wax,
Carrots, comets, carpet tacks.
Every philosophic need
Covered by this capsule creed:
If it be not so to me,
{good}
What care I how {bad} it be?




THE LAND OF RAINBOW'S-END


Young Faintheart lay on a wayside bank,
Full prey to doubts and fears,
When he did espy come trudging by
A Pilgrim bent with years.
His back was bowed and his step was slow,
But his faith no years could bend,
As he eagerly pressed to the rose-lit west
And the Land of Rainbow's-End.

"_It's ho, for a pack!" sang the Pilgrim gray,_
"_And a stout oak staff for friend,_
_And it's over the hills and far away_
_To the Land of Rainbow's-End!_"

"Thou'rt old," young Faintheart cried, "thou'rt old,
And there's many a league to go;
And still thou seekest the pot of gold
At the farther end of the bow."
"I am old, I am old," said the Pilgrim gray,
"But ever my way I'll wend
To the rose-lit hills of the dying day
And the Land of Rainbow's-End."

"Come, rest thee, rest thee by my side;
Give o'er thy doomsday quest."
"Have done, have done!" the Pilgrim cried:
"The light wanes in the west.
The road is long, but I shall not tire;
I will lay my bones, God send,
By the beautiful City of Heart's Desire,
In the Land of Rainbow's-End."

"_Then it's ho, for a pack!" sang the Pilgrim gray,_
"_And a stout oak staff for friend,_
_And it's over the hills and far away_
_To the Land of Rainbow's-End._"




A BALLADE OF A BORE


When the weather is warm and the glass running high
And the odors of Araby tincture the air;
When the sun is aloft in a white and blue sky,
And the morrow holds promise of falling as fair; -
In spring or in summer I'm free to declare,
And the same I am equally free to maintain,
One person has power my peace to impair:
The man who tells limericks gives me a pain.

When the foliage flushes and summer is by,
And russet and red are the popular wear;
When the song of the woodland is changed to a sigh
And the horn of the hunter is heard by the hare; -
In the season of autumn I'm free to declare,
And my language is lucid and simple and plain,
One person's acquaintance I freely forswear:
The man with the limerick gives me a pain.

When the landscape is iced and the snow feathers fly,
When the fields are all bald and the trees are all bare,
And the prospect which nature presents to the eye
Is chiefly distinguished by glitter and glare; -
In the season of winter I'm free to declare
That the limerick person is flat and inane.
This person, I think, we could easily spare:
The man who tells limericks gives me a pain.


_L'Envoi_

From New Year to Christmas I'm free to declare
That, for ways that are dull and for verse that is vain,
One bore is peculiar - and not at all rare:
The man with the limerick gives me a pain.




THE POLE

(_Tune_: "_Carcassonne._")


I'm an old man, I'm eighty-three,
I seldom get away;
My work, it keeps me close at home -
I have no time for play.
If it were not for the journey back,
That so fatigues a soul,
I'd like to take a little trip -
I never have seen the Pole.

'Tis said that in that favored place
There is no heat or drouth;
And that, whichever way you turn,
You're looking south-by-south.
Some say there is a flagstaff there,
Some say there is a hole.
Think of the years that I have lived
And never have seen the Pole!

The parson a hundred times is right -
We ought to stay at home.
I'm an old man, I'm eighty-three,
I have no call to roam.
And yet if I could somehow find
The time - God bless my soul! -
I think that I would die content
If I only could see the Pole!

My brother has seen Baraboo,
If so he speak the truth;
My wife and son they both have been
As far as to Duluth;
My cousin cruised to Eastport, Maine,
On a ship that carried coal;
I've been as far as Mackinac -
But I never have seen the Pole!




SH-H-H-H!

"_Mr. Mabie is now reading the summer books._"
- THE LADIES' HOME JOURNAL.


What shall we buy for a summer's day?
What is good reading and what is not?
Mabie will tell us - we wait his say;
For Mabie alone can know what's what.
Meanwhile the world is as still as death;
Mute inquiry is in men's looks;
Everybody is holding his breath -
Mabie is reading the summer books.

The suns are at pause in the cosmic race;
The mills of the gods have ceased to grind;
The only sound that is heard in space
Is the rhythmic clicking of Mabie's mind.
Elsewhere silence, or near or far -
Chattering Pleiads or babbling brooks;
For the whisper has passed from star to star:
"Mabie is reading the summer books."




THE VANISHED FAY


Tell me, whither do they go,
All the Little Ones we know?
They "grow up" before our eyes,
And the fairy spirit flies.
Time the Piper, pied and gay -
Does he lure them all away?
Do they follow after him,
Over the horizon's brim?

Daughter's growing fair to see,
Slim and straight as popple tree.
Still a child in heart and head,
But - the fairy spirit's fled.
As a fay at break of day,
Little One has flown away,
On the stroke of fairy bell -
When and whither, who can tell?

Still her childish fancies weave
In the Land of Make Believe;
And her love of magic lore
Is as avid as before.
Dollies big and dollies small
Still are at her beck and call.
But for all this pleasant play,
Little One has gone away.

Whither, whither have they flown,
All the fays we all have known?
To what "faery lands forlorn"
On the sound of elfin horn?
As she were a woodland sprite,
Little One has vanished quite.
Waves the wand of Oberon:
Cock has crowed - the fay is gone!




AUTUMN REVERY


When the leaves are falling crimson
And the worm is off its feed,
When the rag weed and the jimson
Have agreed to go to seed,
When the air in forest bowers
Has a tang like Rhenish wine,
And to breathe it for two hours
Makes you feel you'd like to dine,
When the frost is on the pumpkin
And the corn is in the shock,
And the cheek of country bumpkin
City faces seems to mock, -
When you come across a ditty
(Like this one) of Autumn's charm,
Then it's pleasant in the city,
Where they keep the houses warm.




THE RECOIL


I met a friend of lofty brow -
As lofty as the laws allow.
I said to him, "You'll know, I'm sure -
What's doing now in litrychoor?"
Said he: "I hate the very name;
I'm weary of the blooming game.
I read, whenever I have time,
Something by Phillips Oppenheim."

"Cheer up!" said I. "What's new in Art? -
You drift around the picture mart.
What do you think of Mr. Blum? -
Some say he's great, some say he's bum."
"I'm strong for Blum," my friend replied;
"His pictures are so queer and pied.
I wouldn't change them if I could;
I'd rather have things queer than good."

I spoke of this, I spoke of that,
But everything was stale and flat.
Said I, "You once adored the chaste,
You used to have such perfect taste."
"Good taste," he wailed, "brings but distress,
'Tis an affliction, nothing less;
While those whose taste is punk and vile
Are happy all the blessed while."


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Online LibraryBert Leston TaylorA line-o'-verse or two → online text (page 3 of 4)