William Cullen Bryant.

A new library of poetry and song, Volume 2 online

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We ne'er shall see him more ;

He used to wear a long black coat,
All buttoned down before.

His heart was open as the day.

His feelings all were true ;
His hair was some inclined to gray, —

He wore it in a queue.



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HUMOROUS POEMS.



879



Whene'er he heard the voice of pain,
His breast with pity burned ;

The large round head upon his cane
From ivory was turned.

Kind words he ever had for all ;

He knew no base design ;
His eyes were dark and rather small,

His nose was aquiline.

He lived at peace with all mankind,

In friendship he was true ;
His coat had pocket-holes behind,

His pantaloons were blue.

Unharmed, the sin which earth pollutes

He passed securely o*er, —
And never wore a pair of boots

For thirty years or more.

But good Old Grimes is now at rest,
Nor fears misfortune's frown ;

He wore a double-breasted vest, —
The stripes ran up and down.

He modest merit sought to find.

And \ny it its desert ;
He had no malice in his mind.

No ruffles on his shirt

His neighbors he did not abuse, —

Was sociable and gay ;
He wore large buckles on his shoes.

And changed them every day.

His knowledge, hid from public gaze.

He did not bring to view,
Nor make a noise, town-meeting days.

As many people do.

HLs worldly goods he never threw

In trust to fortune's chances,
But lived (as all his brothers do)

In easy circumstances.

Thus undisturbed by anxious cares

His peaceful moments ran ;
And everybody said he was

A fine old gentleman.

Albert G. Grebn.



THE HEXGHT OF THE RIDICULOlTa

I WROTE some lines once on a time

In wondrous merry mood,
And thought, as usual, men would say

They were exceeding good.



They were so queer, so very queer,

I laughed as I would die ;
Albeit, in the general way,

A sober man am I.

I called my servant, and he came ;

How kind it was of him.
To mind a slender man like me, ^ •«

He of the mighty limb 1

"These to the printer," I exclaimed.

And, in my himiorous way,
I added (as a trifling jest)j

" There *11 be the devil to pay."

He took the paper, and I watched.

And saw him peep within ;
At the first line he read, his face

Was all upon the grin.

He read the next ; the grin grew broad.

And shot from ear to ear ;
He read the third ; a chuckling noise

I now began to hear.

The fourth ; he broke into a roar ;

The fifth ; his waistband split ;
The sixth ; he burst five buttons off.

And tumbled in a fit.

Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye,
I watched that wretched man.

And since, I never dare to write
As funny as I can.

OLIVER wendbix Holmes.



THE ONE-HOSS SHAY;
OB, THE deacon's MASTERPIECE.

A LOGICAL STORY.

Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,

That was built in such a logical way

It ran a hundred years to a day.

And then of a sudden, it — ah, but stay,

I *11 tell you what happened without dday.

Scaring the parson into fits,

Frightening people out of their wits, —

Have you ever heard of that, I say ?

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five.
Oeorgius Secundus was then alive, —
Snuffy old drone from the German hive.
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down.
And Braddock's army was done so brown,
Left without a scalp to its crown.



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880



HUMOROUS POEMS.



It was on the terrible Earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.

Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,

There is always somewhere a weakest spot, —

In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill.

In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,

In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace, — lurking still,

Find it somewhere you must and will, —

Above or below, or within or without, —

And that 's the reason, beyond a doubt,

A chaise brecUcs doum, but does n*t loear out.

But the Deacon swore, (as Deacons do,
With an *' I dew vum," or an " I tell yeou,')
He would build one shay to beat the taown
*n' the keounty 'n* all the kentry raoun' ;
It should be so built that it could n' break daown ;
— **Fur," said the Deacon, ** 't's mighty plain
Thut the weakes* place mus' stan* the strain ;
*n' the way t' fix it, uz I maintain,

Is only jest
T* make that place uz strong uz the rest"

So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak.
That could n't be split nor bent nor broke, —
That was for spokes and floor and sills ;
He sent for lancewood to make the thills ;
The crossbars were ash, from the straightest trees ;
The panels of whitewood, that cuts like cheeee.
But lasts like iron for things like these ;
The hubs of logs from the " Settler's ellum," —
Last of its timber, — they could n't sell 'em,
Never an axe had seen their chips.
And the wedges flew from between their lips.
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips ;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw.
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too.
Steel of the finest, bright and blue ;
Thoroughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide ;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.
That was the way he "put her through."
"There I" said the Deacon, ** naow she '11 dew !'*

Do ! I tell you, I rather guess

She was a wonder, and nothing less !

Colts grew horses, beards turned gray.

Deacon and deaconess dropped away,

Children and grandchildren, — where were they ?

But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay

As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day I

Eighteen hundred ; — it came and found
The Deacon's masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hundred increased by ten ; —
" Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.



Eighteen hundred and twenty came ; —
Running as usual ; much the same.
Thirty and forty at last arrive,
And then come fifty, and fifty-five.

Little of all we value her©

Wakes on the mom of its hundredth year

Without both feeling and looking queer.

In fact, there *8 nothing that keeps its youth.

So far as I know, but a tree and truth.

(This is a moral that runs at large ;

Take it — You 're welcome. — No extra chaige.)

First of November, —the Earthquake-day. —
There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay,
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local as one may say.
There could n't be, — for the Deacon's art
Had made it so like in every part
That there was n't a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thills,
And the floor was just as strong as the sills.
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whippletree neither less nor more.
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
And spring and axle and hub encore.
And yet, ds a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be loom out I

First of November, 'Fifty-five !

This morning the parson takes a drive.

Now, small boys, get out of the way !

Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay.

Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.

" Huddup ! " said the parson. — Off" went they.

The parson was working his Sunday's text, —

Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed

At what the — Moses — was coming next

All at once the horse stood still.

Close by the meet'n'-house on the hill.

— First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill, —
And the parson was sitting upon a rock.

At half past nine by the meet'n'-house clock, —
Just the hour of the Earthquake shock !

— What do you think the parson found.
When he got up and stared around ?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound.
As if it had been to the mill and ground »
You see, of coui-se, if you 're not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once, —

All at once, and nothing first, —
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

End of the wonderful one-hoss shay.
Logic is logic. That 's all I say.

OuvBR Wendell holmes.



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HUMOROUS POEMS.



881



BUDOLI^ THE HEADSMAN.

Rudolph, professor of the beadsman's trade,
Alike was famous for his arm and blade.
One day a prisoner Justice had to kill
Knelt at the block to test the artist's skill.
Bare-armed, swart-visaged, gaunt, and shaggy-
browed,
Rudolph the headsman rose above the crowd.
His falchion lightened with a sudden gleam,
As the pike's armor flashes in the sti'eam.
He sheathed his blade ; he turned as if to go ;
The victim knelt, still waiting for the blow.
'* Why strikest not ? Perform thy murderous

act,"
The prisoner said. (His voice was slightly

cracked.)
"Friend, I Jiave struck,*' the artist straight re-
plied ;
" Wait but one moment, and yourself decide."
He held his snuff-box, — "Now then, if you

please ! "
The prisoner sniffed, and, with a crashing sneeze.
Off his head tumbled, bowled along the floor.
Bounced down the steps ; — the prisoner said no

more 1

OuvER Wendell Holmes.



CTTY AND COUNTRY.

READ AT A FESTIVAL GATHERING OF THE SONS OP BERK-
SHIRE. MASS.

Come back to your Mother, yo children, for shame,
Who have wandered like truants for riches and

fame !
With a smile on her face, and a sprig in her cap.
She calls you to feast from her bountiful lap.

Come out from your alleys, your courts, and your

lanes.
And breathe, like our eagles, the air of our plains ;
Take a whiff from our fields, and your excellent

wives
Will declare 't is all nonsense insuring your lives.

Come, you of the law, who can talk, if you please.
Till the man in the moon will allow it 's a cheese.
And leave " the old lady that never tells lies,"
To sleep with her handkerchief over her eyes.

Ye healers of men, for a moment decline
Your feat5 in the rhubarb and ipecac line ;
While you shut up your turnpike, your neigh-
bors can go
The old roundabout road to the regions below.

You clerk, on whose ears are a couple of pens.
And whose head is an ant-hill of units and tens.
Though Plato denies you, we welcome you still
As a featherless biped, in spite of your quill.



Poor drudge of the city ! how happy he feels
With the burs on his legs and liie grass at his

heels i
No dodger behind his bandannas to share, —
No constable grumbling, "You mustn't walk

there ! "

In yonder green meadow, to memory dear.

He slaps a mosquito, and brushes a tear ;

The dewdrops hang round him on blossoms and

shoots.
He breathes but one sigh for his youth and his

boots.

There stands the old school-house, hard by the

old church ;
That tree by its side had the flavor of bii-ch ;
0, sweet were the days of his juvenile tricks.
Though the prairie of youth had so many " big

licks " I

By the side of yon river he weeps and he slumps.
The boots fill with water, as if they were pumps.
Till, sated with rapture, he steals to his bed,
VTith a glow in his heart, and a cold in his head.

'T is past, — he is dreaming, — I see him again ;
The ledger returns as by legerdemain ;
His mustache is damp with an easterly flaw,
And he holds in his fingers an omnibus straw.

He dreams the chill gust is a blossoming gale.
That the straw is a rose from his deal* native vale ;
And murmurs, unconscious of space and of time,
" A 1. — Extra super. — Ah ! is n't it prime ! "

0, what are the prizes we perish to win,

To the first little "shiner" we caught with a pin ?

No soil upon earth is so dear to our eyes

As the soil we first stirred in terrestrial pies !

Then come from all parties and parts to our feast ;
Though not at the "Astor," we '11 give you at

least
A bite at an apple, a seat on the grass.
And the best of old — water — at nothing a glass !
Oliver Wendell holmes.



WHITTLINO:

A "national portrait."

The Yankee boy, before he 's sent to school,
Well knows the mysteries of that magic tool,
The pocket-knife. To that his wistful eye
Turns, while he hears his mother's lullaby ;
His hoarded cents he gladly gives to get it.



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882 HUMOROUS POEMS.




Then leaves no stone unturned till he can whet it ;


She lies ab




And in the education of the lad


Tillneai




No little part that implement hath had.


Then come




His pocket-knife to the young whittler brings


Because




A growing knowledge of material things.


Her hair u
Her che<




Projectiles, music, and the sculptor's art;,


Remains o:




His chestnut whistle and his shingle dart;,


Before si




His elder popgun with its hickory rod,






Its sharp explosion and rebounding wad.


She dotes \




His cornstalk fiddle, and the deeper tone


And mei




That murmurs from his pumpkin-stalk trombone,


She 's eloq




Conspire to teach the boy. To these succeed


They gi^




His bow, his arrow of a feathered seed,


She talks c




His windmill, raised the passing breeze to win,


And fall




His water-wheel, that turns upon a pin ;


And, if a I




Or, if his father lives ui)on the shore.


She wou




You '11 see his ship, ** beam ends upon the floor,"






Full rigged with raking masts, and timbers


Her feet ar




stanch.


Herhan




And waiting near the washtub for a launch.


Her jewels
And her




Thus by his genius and his jack-knife driven.


Her color i




Ere long he '11 solve you any problem given ;


(Though




Make any gimcrack musical or mute,


Her body i




A plow, a couch, an organ or a flute j


Her heai




Make you a locomotive or a clock.






Cut a canal, or build a floating-dock.


She falls ii




Or lead fort;h Beauty from a marble block ; —


Who 8W(
He marries




Make anything in short, for sea or shore,




From a child's rattle to a seventy-four ; —


fin o m a r




Make it, said I ? — Ay, when he undertakes it,


OUC Ulctl

One of the




He '11 make the thing and the machine that


Both are




makes it.


She 's got c




And when the thing is made, — whether it be


He 's gol




To move on earth, in air, or on the sea ;






"Whether on water, o'er the waves to glide.






Or upon land to roll, revolve, or slide ;


AMR1




Whether to whirl or jar, to strike or ring,




Whether it be a piston or a spring.


FROM •




Wheel, pulley, tube sonorous, wood or brass,






The thing designed shall surely come to pass ;


Of all the




For, when his hand 's upon it, you may know


The queen




That there 's go in it, and he 'U make it go.


Among (




John Pierpont.


A bridge a
Without a
Not even 8




THE MODERN BELLE.


A thing fo
Is America




She sits in a fashionable parlor.






And roclis in her easy -chair ;


English an




She is clad in silks and satins,


Germans, 1




And jewels are in her hair ;


Crossing tl




She winks and giggles and simpers,


In one c




And simpers and giggles and winks ;


So subtle 8




And though she talks but little.


No Herald




'T is a good deal more than she thinks.


In findii


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Depend upon it, my snobbish friend.
Your family tbi-ead you can't ascend,
Without good reason to apprehend
You may find it waxed, at the farther end.

By some plebeian vocation !
Or, worse than that, your boasted line
May end in a loop of stronger twine,

That plagued some worthy relation !

John Godfrey Saxb.



RAILROAD RHYME.

Singing through the forests,

Rattling over ridges ;
Shooting under arches.

Rumbling over bridges ;
Whizzing through the mountains,

Buzzing o'er the vale, —
Bless me ! this is pleasant,

Riding on the rail !

Men of different ** stations"

In the eye of fame.
Here are very quickly

Coming to the same ;
High and lowly people.

Birds of every feather,
On a common level,

Travelling together.

Gentleman in shorts,

Looming very tall ;
Gentleman at lai^e,

Talking very small ;
Gentleman in tights.

With a loose-ish mien ;
Gentleman in gray.

Looking rather green ;

Gentleman quite old.

Asking for the news ;
Gentleman in black.

In a fit of blues ;
Gentleman in claret.

Sober as a vicar ;
Gentleman in tweed.

Dreadfully in liquor !

Stranger on the right

Looking very sunny,
Obviously reading

Something rather funny.
Now the smiles are thicker, —

Wonder what they mean I
Faith, he 's got the Enicker-

Bocker Magazine I



Stranger on the left

Closing up his peepers ;
Now he snores amain.

Like the Seven Sleepers ;
At his feet a volume

Gives the explanation.
How the man grew stupid

From *' Association 1"

Ancient maiden lady

Anxiously remarks.
That there must be peril

'Mong so many sparks ;
Roguish-looking fellow.

Turning to the stranger,
Says it 's his opinion

She is out of danger I

Woman with her baby,

Sitting vis-d.'Vi8 ;
Baby keeps a-squalling.

Woman looks at me ;
Asks about the distance,

Says it 's tiresome talking^
Noises of the cars

Are so very shocking I

Market-woman, careful

Of the precious casket,
Knowing eggs are eggs,

Tightly holds her basket ;
Feeling that a smash.

If it came, would surely
Send her eggs to pot

Rather prematurely.

Singing through the forests,

Rattling over ridges ;
Shooting under arches.

Rumbling over bridges ;
Whizzing through the mountains.

Buzzing o'er the vale, —
Bless me ! this is pleasant.

Riding on the rail !

John Godfrey Saxb.



WOMAITS WILL.

AN EPIGRAM.

Men make their wills, but wives

Escape a work so sad ;
Why should they make what all their lives

The gentle dames have had t

JOHN GODFREY SAXB.



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884 HUMOROUS POEMS.




"NOTHING TO WEAR."


For an actual belle and a possible bride ;






Miss Floila. McFlimsey, of Madison Square,


But the miracle ceased when she turued inside out,






Has matie three separate journeys to Paris,


And the truth came to light, and the dry-goods






And her father assures me, each time she was


beside.






there,


Which, in spite of collector and custom-house






That she and her friend Mrs. Han-is


sentry.






(Not the lady whose name is so famous in history,


Had entered the port without any entry.






But plain Mra. H., without romance or mystery)
Spent six consecutive weeks without stopping








And yet, though scarce three montlis have passed






In one continuous round of shopping, —


since the day






Shopping alone, and shopping together,


This merchandise went, on twelve carts, up
Broadway,






At all hours of the day, and in all sorts of
weather, —






This same Miss McFlimsey, of Madison Square,






For all manner of things that a woman can put


The last time we met was in utter despair.






On the crown of her head or the sole of her foot,


Because she had nothing whatever to wear !






Or wrap round her shoulders, or fit round her








waist.


Nothing to wear ! N




Or that can be sewed on, or pinned on, or laced,


I do not assert — thi




Or tied on with a string, or stitched on with a bow,


us —




In front or behind, above or below ;


That she 's in a state of




For bonnets, mantillas, capes, collars, and shawls ;


Like Powers' Greek SI




Dresses for breakfasts and dinners and balls ;


But I do mean to say, ]




Dresses to sit in and stand in and walk in ;


When, at the same m




Dresses to dance in and flirt in and talk in ;


Which cost five hundj




Dresses in which to do nothing at all ;


less.




Dresses for winter, spring, summer, and fall ;


And jeweliy worth t




All of them different in color and pattern.


guess.




Silk, muslin, and lace, craj)e, velvet, and satin.


That she had not a thi




Brocade, and broadcloth, and other material.


wear!




Quite as expensive and much more ethereal ;


I should mention just




In short, for all things that could ever be thought


Flom's




of,


Two hundred and fifty




Or milliner, inodisUy or tradesman be bought of.


1 liad just been selected a




From ten-thousand-francs robes to twenty-sous


The rest in the shade, I




frills ;


On myself, after twenty




In all quarters of Paris, and to every store.


Of those fossil remaii




While McFlimsey in vain stormed, scolded, and


*' affections,"




swore,


And that rather decays




They footed the streets, and he footed the bills.


of art,
Which Miss Flora pei




The last trip, their goods shipped by the steamer


heart."




Arago,


So we were engaged. Ou




Formed, McFlimsey declares, the bulk of her


Not by moonbeam or e




cargo.


grove,




Not to mention a quantity kept from the rest.


But in a front parlor, n




Sufficient to fill the lai-gest -sized chest.


Beneath the gas-fixturej




Which did not appear on the ship's manifest,


Without any romance o




But for which the ladies themselves manifested


Without any tears in W




Such particular interest, that they invested


Or blushes, or transpor




Their own proper persons in layers and rows


It was one of the quiete




Of muslins, embroideries, worked under-clothes.


With a very small sprinl




Gloves, handkerchiefs, scarfs, and such trifles as


And a very large diamo




those ;


On her virginal lips wh






She exclaimed, as a sorl




beauties,


And by way of putting




Gave good-hy to the ship, and go-hy to the duties.


** You know, I 'm to pc




Her relations at home all marveled, no doubt,


And flirt when I like,


1


Miss Flora had grown so enormously stout


speak, —











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HUMOROUS POEMS.



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And yoii must not come here more than twice in

the week,
Or talk to me either at party or ball,
But always be ready to come when I call ;
So don't prose to me about dnty and stuff,
If we don't break this off, there will be time

enough
For that sort of thing ; but the bargain must be
That, as long as I choose, I am perfectly free,
For this is a sort of engagement, you see.
Which is binding on you but not binding on me. '*

Well, having thus wooed Miss McFlimsey and
gained her.

With the silks, crinolines, and hoops that con-
tained her,

I had, as I thought, a contingent remainder

At least in the property, and the best right

To appear as its escort by day and by night ;

And it being the week of the Stuck ups* grand
ball,—
Their cards had been out a fortnight or so.
And set all the Avenue on the tiptoe, —

I considered it only my duty to call,
And see if Miss Flora intended to go.

I found her, — as ladies are apt to be found.

When the time intervening between the first
sound

Of the bell and the visitor's entry is shorter

Than usual, — I found — I won't say, I caught
her, —

Intent on the pier-glass, undoubtedly meaning

To see if perhaps it did n't need cleaning.

She turned as I entered, — "Why, Harry, you
sinner,

I thought that you went to the Flashers' to din-
ner ! "

**So I did," I replied; "but the dinner is swal-
lowed
And digested, I trust, for 't is now nine and
more,

So being relieved from that duty, I followed
Inclination, which led me, you see, to your
door;

And now will your ladyship so condescend

As just to inform me if you intend

Your bt'auty and graces and presence to lend

(All of which, when I own, I hope no one will
borrow)

To the Stuckups, whose party, you know, is to-
morrow ? "

The fair Flora looked up with a pitiful air.
And answered quite promptly, "Why, Harry,

mon chcVy
I should like above all things to go with you

there ;
But really and truly — I 've nothing to wear."



" Nothing to wear ! go just as you are ;

Wear the dress you have on, and you '11 bo by

far,
I engage, the most bright and particular star

On the Stuckup horizon" — 1 stopped — for
her eye, *
Notwithstanding this delicate onset of flattery,
Opened on me at once a most terrible battery

Of scorn and amazement She made no reply,
But gave a slight turn to the end of her nose

(That pure Grecian feature), as much as to say,
" How absurd that any sane man should suppose
That a lady would go to a ball in the clothes,

No matter how fine, thnt she wears every
day!"

So I ventured again : " Wear your crimson bro-
cade "
(Second turn-up of nose) — " Tliat 's too dark

by a shade."
"Your blue silk"— "That 's too heavy."

"Your pink" — "That's too light"
"Wear tulle over satin" — "I can't endure

white."
"Your rose-colored, then, the best of the

batch" —
" I have n't a thread of point lace to match."
" Your brown moire antique*' — " Yes, and look

like a Quaker."
"The pearl-colored" —" I would, but that

plaguy dressmaker
Has had it a week." " Then that exquisite lilac.



Online LibraryWilliam Cullen BryantA new library of poetry and song, Volume 2 → online text (page 69 of 81)